For most of history innovation has been guided by necessity; a need to provide solutions to a well identified problem. From creation of clubs weapons from sticks and stones to the creation of fire, communities, schools and in more recent times, industrialization all the things necessary to improve the lives of people or improve how they perform their daily tasks. Fast forward to the last three decades which can be categorized as the information age and we have seen the rise of the internet, mobile technology and the availability of information in ways that would have been thought impossible fifteen years ago. Advances made possible by innovation, the same drive that pushed advances centuries ago. A need to improve the way of life, both for self or for the community in general.
You see, all through history till last night, I can genuinely say there isn’t one ICT solution to any of Nigeria’s problems. Not one. You might beg to differ, but then there are global issues and there are local issues. There have been innovations for global issues but for our local issues, not so much. Now the question arises with regards to what these issues are. They exist too, quite a number. A major one being accountability in the public sector with immediate issues with voting both for the public and in the different national identities. Other ones being in health, education, security.
Now I would like to say BudgIT, Jumia, Konga, Iroko, Jobberman same with Andela but the question arises that what Nigerian problems have been solved? I mean BudgIT has done an excellent job with presenting easy to read data to Nigerians, Iroko keeps doing an excellent job with bringing Nigerian content to Nigerians in diaspora, I believe Konga, Jumia and Jobberman have reached their peak and are beginning to decline, I haven’t spent much time looking at Andela (I most likely should) and I am aware of many other ICT driven ventures which are only just making themselves known. It is good yes, but then innovation? I leave that to you. Before I go on, here’s a quick definition of what innovation is…
What comes to mind when I hear innovation, is a new method, idea or product and seeing as Nigeria is different, in their way of doing pretty much everything, I believe ICT should go the same way.
With that in mind, I doubt that any of the websites above or companies above would fit the criteria for new in method, idea or product, but then I digress.
If you have a contrary view, I am open to it, but then I do not believe that ICT in Nigeria has been innovative and I do not believe it has solved one solely Nigerian problem.