Digital development equates the power of words and action. And indeed, the world still remembers and for a long time, will continue to recall the words of John F. Kennedy on the Mission call to the Moon!
And he said: “We choose to go to the Moon. We choose to go to the Moon. We choose to go to the Moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard; because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one we intend to win, and the others, too…..”
Indeed, the imperatives of digital transformation is one Nigeria must willingly admit and vigorously refuse to delay. A single keyword crafted with the assurances of resetting the human mind can reboot our ICT System with a conspicuous directional change. This construct, if consciously deployed, can address its challenges with a focused development trajectory. Digital transformation can be better understood as migrating from an analogue mindset to digital mind shift; particularly when we explore the Sociology of Things (SoT); with human attitude at the centre of digital transformation influenced by bold technology idea.
A recent case in point in the Nigerian technology ecosystem is recognising the potential of the word ‘Digital’ as a transformational tool applied to redirect the rigid mindset in our national technology agenda to a proactive development mindshift. Therefore, the renaming of the Federal Ministry of Communications to Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy; by the Honourable Minister, Dr. Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami, after consultation with concerned stakeholders remains exemplary. Today, this transformational change dynamics has energised the foundation of our national development. The core lesson learned from this process is that a successful leader must be equipped with Sociology culture of ‘a listening ear’; spurred by convincing emotional intelligence. This, in a nutshell, qualifies as digital Sociology.
Noortje Marres, author of ‘Digital Sociology: The Reinvention of Social Research’, revealed a critical (new) overview and assessment of the key concepts, methods and understandings that currently inform the development of specifically digital forms of social enquiry. Indeed, Digital Sociology is new and only came into adoption and usage as a label only seven years ago. Many scholars of Sociology consider this as somewhat mysterious. This consideration is informed by the observation that sociologists have studied digital societies and used digital techniques for many decades.
This dates back to studies of computers in the workplace in the early 80s. For example, in earlier development of software packages, it was used to process survey data. Also, it is understood that sister terms, like Digital Anthropology predate Digital Sociology by about 12 years. In complex view, it also revealed that some define the new ‘computational social science’ as essentially a form of data analytics. By contrast, digital sociologists are committed to investigating a far wider set of interactions between idea, data, people, technologies – and much more. The research argues that what goes on in digital culture takes the form of sociological processes; but they are still too rarely understood in those terms.
The justification of the above is that Nigerian digital intervention processes and experience by Dr. Pantami is relatively new. But it portends a great transformational strategy and effective tool to drive national development; not only in Technology, but in many other critical areas such as Agriculture, Healthcare, Environment, Human Relationships; as well as global peace Architecture, etc.
Amazingly, within the global transformational trajectory, there are many landmines dressed as buzzwords that becloud our mind in the right development direction. These buzzwords are many: AI, Big Data, Cloud, IoT, Social Media, Data Analytics, 5G, Blockchain, Inter-Cloud, etc. In any case, such hypes have become tremendously necessary to ventilate and propel the mind and shift it towards constructive productivity; as well as strategic development – enabling the digital inclusion of the over 10 million Nigerians in Diaspora; to deliver quantum contributions to fast-track our knowledge economy process.
National Digital Day (NDD)
Recently, Dr. Leo Stan Nnamdi Ekeh – Chairman, ZINOX Group positively inflamed the digital transformation narrative; mainly with a passionate call for National Digital Day (NDD). This call on President Muhammadu Buhari to declare the 1st of October (hitherto designated as Nigeria Independence Day); as NDD is significant in many dimensions. During the commissioning of the TD Africa Tech Experience Centre; Ekeh argued that NDD will visibly delineate our analogue mindset and deliver a mindshift required for Nigeria to vigorously engage the global knowledge Olympiad – going forward. Furthermore, like the emergence of Digital Economy in our development Ecosystem; as well as the creation of the Digital Economy Department of work in our institutions; the NDD is envisioned and programmed to improve the GDP and harvest abundant creation of wealth.
Most importantly, these digital buzzwords and accompanied effects have the power to positively affect people’s perceptions and actions; leveraging sociological phenomena to advance fundamental and visionary thinking in the productive realm of the future-of-work. This master-class intervention by Dr. Ekeh is fortified with abundant sociological pillars and delivers the proof of concept; through the worldwide streaming of the commissioning of the Tech Experience Centre by Dr. Pantami, on behalf of the President. The sociological showcase also amplifies that digital media technologies have cut a notch for itself with unstoppable audacity.
Undoubtedly, combining the digital economy framework with a declaration of NDD would exponentially trigger quantum employment and productivity that would translate into many trillions of Naira value-added effects. It will not only spur creativity, innovation and quest for accelerated research and development; but will also engender quality transformation in education as well as scientific and digital literacy in multiple domains. The call brilliantly showcased the significant interplay between People, Ideas, Technology, Data, and digital Sociology; since the rationale resides in the realm of data as the behavioural phenomenon of humans and related intelligent mediums as the oxygen of life.
Therefore, the declaration of a National Digital Day (NDD) for Nigeria comes with bags of immense opportunities and benefits; especially in a nation predominantly dominated by the youth constituting over 65% of the population. Furthermore, this call factors the fact that 72% of the population currently live in the rural area and digitally underserved. Above all, looking into the near future when in 30 years (2050); our population is expected to balloon to 400 million, the NDD will become an enviable legacy. Indeed, it will be for the benefits of Generation Next in Africa.
Finally, the digital transformation will be incomplete without the inclusion and interplay of Sociology of Things (SoT) and Sociologists.