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General News of Thursday, 12 February 2015

Source: Cameroon Tribune

ICT, a fundamental option for development

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Almost nine years ago, the UK parliament’s “Postnote” clearly stated that information and communication technology (ICT) can help developing countries tackle a wide range of economic, health and social problems.

By improving access to information and by enhancing ICT, these countries can substantially eliminate extreme poverty, combat serious disease, and achieve universal primary education and gender equality, the Postnote indicated.

The Head of State, President Paul Biya in his message to the youths came back to this topical issue reminding them of the technological changes that are taking place and the need to readjust to such alterations. "Technological advancement has changed the way things are done. The new economy is computer-dominated”, he said.

In effect, the decision to develop a policy towards ICT at the level of government fully concretised in 2007, even though individual institutions were already grabbling with it. Things have eventually advanced with the computerisation of the public services but the distance remains wide considering the challenges therein.

ICTs in the real sense refer to diverse set of technological tools and resources used to communicate, create, disseminate, store and manage information. Technologies here include computers, internet, broadcasting (radio and television) and telephony.

These in effect, are potential areas of employment which call for a refocusing from the educational system in order to bring up technicians and engineers. “The ongoing professionalization of secondary and higher education seeks to meet this requirement.”

The need to go ICT fits squarely with the exigencies embedded in the country’s ambitions. President Biya points out clearly that areas like agriculture, mining, tourism, arts, sports and environment need to be tackled and as such there is need to have better training institutions that prepare youths for their integration in them. “These sectors are real niches for growth and skilled jobs such as plumbing, electricity and motor and industrial mechanics.”

The drive towards technological studies needs to be intensified with the main goal of weeding out installed concepts that technical schools are reserved for duller students. In fact, this manner of reason is what has kept the country behind in ICTs.

The good thing however is that the trend of events at the international level is fast driving policy makers and the population at large to recognise the importance of ICTs. The Head of State reminds youths in his speech that technical skills pay more than the business and service sectors.

The advantage with these sectors is that many individuals and companies are investing in it, computer services, internet and telephone. And as destiny would have it, all other activities are building around them. Investors would certainly hesitate injecting their funds into a country with undeveloped ICT.

The impact of high-speed internet needs not to be emphasised. All businesses now thrive on the back of telecommunication. Even agriculture which remains Cameroon’s best bait will not progress without the effective use of industrial inputs, fertilizers, pesticides, tractors etc.

And for this to happen, everything must start with the fundamental stage and that base is simply the country’s educational and training programmes.

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