Embracing technology can help curb graft in Africa
African countries have always been ranked at the bottom when it comes to technology infrastructure among the regional economies included in World Competitiveness. The figures show that sub Saharan African region has a long way to go before it makes full use of technology to support its long-term competitiveness. Africa’s technology infrastructure is the weakest of the 333 criteria, stalling the improvement in our overall competitiveness ranking. Overall most African countries are rated among the least competitive economies. Poor IT infrastructure is dragging the African economies down, and few policymakers and politicians seem to realize it, let alone be taking much needed action. Few people I have come across in the countries I have been lucky to visit in the continent who have floated ideas on how IT could benefit their countries and economies as a whole. Policymakers in Africa need to start investing in a centralized IT systems to smoothen processes of registration of voters, persons, business among others.
Imagine if there was a system that showed the names of all voters entitled to vote. I don’t think there would be public outcry which always accompany elections results with malpractices like double registration and vote rigging among the most common. Imagine the voting system was accessible to all stakeholders, enabling them to check on how much was being voted to whom. This way, they, along with the general public, would have rightful access to details of how their voting processes are being conducted. In developed and very transparent societies like Finland, such a system enables better public scrutiny, which has eliminated corruption in the land of Finns. Indeed, amid lack of budget allocations to research and development, there is lack of progress made by government agencies in making use of advanced technology. Africans love to talk about corruption, but few attempt to find the proof. Here, better IT infrastructure would aid transparency and the public’s trust in officialdom. And without bigger and better investment in IT, African countries will remain in the same position as the laggard in the whole world.