The speed of technology driven change in today’s economic era is surely not abating in either developed or developing economies. Information and Communication Technology (ICT) has become vital to the process of socioeconomic development, offering extraordinary impacts with regard to building human capacity, influencing market structures, promoting economic competitiveness, facilitating trust and trustworthy relationships between citizens and their government, and among economic actors. It is widely believed that today’s technological world is the start of a socio-economic change that has been likened to the industrial revolution (Orlikowski 2001). A global realization of a new kind of economic era has emerged where information, knowledge and capacity-building, rather than natural resources, play a vital role in sustainable socioeconomic competitiveness. This is increasingly influencing the desire and commitment of national governments and development partners to use the benefits of ICT to leverage sustainable socio-economic development, such as the 2015 Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Economic transformation into a knowledge intensive economy is greatly dependent on a society’s vision and attitude towards promoting a learning economy with strong institutional linkages and promoting the physical and human infrastructure that facilitates trust and supports social participation in socio-economic development processes (Avgerou et al., 2005).
Most African economies including Nigeria are plagued with poor human and physical infrastructural capacity, weak trust institutions, and inconsistent policies. African economies vitally need a critical mass of knowledgeable policy makers who can effectively anticipate, understand, adapt and manage the dynamics of socio-economic change processes. This requires the capacity to promote trust, a learning culture, and to ensure strong institutional linkages that facilitate improved synergy and positive externalities for development. African economies must recognize and demonstrate strategic efforts and commitment in maximizing ICT to facilitate sustainable capacity-building and to strengthen institutional linkages from a holistic perspective. Also, trust building across societal and institutional structures is imperative to ensure the effectiveness of the market, attract and reinforce investor confidence, and encourage citizens’ participation in the socio-economic development process.
This research study presents a conceptualized model for socio-economic development which developing economies, especially those in Africa, would find useful to consider in utilizing ICT to leverage socio-economic development and competitiveness. The model identifies the elements and conditions that support sustainable socio-economic development such as trust, capacity-building, effective policies and sustainable funding structure. The research, which focuses on the Nigerian economy as a case study, adopts a mix of both interpretative and empirical research components in exploring the theoretical underpinning of trust, capacitybuilding from a perspective of knowledge creation through national innovation systems, and knowledge transfer through knowledge transfer instruments such as FDI. The research outcomes establish that effective ICT policy and strategy offer a holistic approach that can help address the fundamental challenges facing most African economies and Nigeria in particular. ICT offer great promise for promoting sustainable socio-economic development by facilitating a context of trust that significantly supports market effectiveness and citizens’ participation in the socio-economic development process. ICT also strategically facilitates capacity-building which can help achieve sustainable socio-economic development.
27 September 2006