“Technology, like art, is a soaring exercise of the human imagination.” – Daniel Bell
In life, everything is created twice: first in the mind, before it becomes a reality. We imagine it first before we see it. The image exists in the mind and later becomes our reality. Perhaps this is why Daniel Bell sees technology as an exercise of the human imagination. Technology has given birth to numerous innovations. It has undoubtedly changed the world from one age to another and from generation to generation. Many things our forefathers thought were beyond their capabilities are now within our reach. The impossibilities of yesterday have become today’s realities, thanks to technology!
This enabler of possibilities has put many nations on the global map. It has transformed seemingly arid lands into fertile ground for wonders. The United Arab Emirates, for instance, has experienced incredible transformations by deploying top-notch technology in all areas of life. Little wonder it is now a destination for tourists from all over the world. Every nation can replicate this success, and the dividends of doing so will be enormous. So, what is the way forward?
For developing nations like Nigeria, the way forward is to embrace technology education. Technology is a skill that can be learned. Interestingly, anyone and everyone can learn it. It does not discriminate based on status, age, race, or creed. Those who desire it can obtain it. It levels the playing field for individuals and nations. The ubiquity of telephone technology reinforces this perspective, as both high-status and low-status individuals now use telephones for their various transactions. If this is our current reality, it demonstrates that technology education can be accessible to everyone.
Our perspective on technology must change. Many people believe it is beyond our grasp. However, the likes of Flutterwaves and other Fintech companies have shown the opposite. Even if we cannot create technology yet, we can adopt and adapt it. Who even says we cannot create it? Various exhibitions by agencies under the Federal Ministry of Science, Technology, and Innovation have shown that we have the capability. Our technologies may not be top-notch at the moment, but with persistence and continuous skill development, they can be.
To sharpen our skills in this regard, schools must make technology education interesting and enjoyable for students from an early age. It is a catch-them-young approach. If possible, we should use our local language to teach it. This approach will make it easier to build upon the foundation later in life. The education is available; all we need to do is adapt it to our own circumstances. Once we have mastered it, we can “globalize” the “local.” The adoption and adaptation of technology will not be difficult because we already know our challenges and how technology can help solve them.
Government agencies, particularly those responsible for providing technology knowledge, must step up their game. It should not be business as usual. If technology is meant to trigger human imagination for development, the way it is imparted must be stimulating and focused on local challenges. These agencies must look beyond their comfort zones and collaborate with others to educate the population on the significance of using technology to transform societies. Recently, agencies such as the National Centre for Technology Management and the Nigeria Institute of Transport Technology have started moving in this direction. Other technology education institutions should join the movement. With a proper understanding of technology and how it works, Nigeria will be able to solve most of its problems.
If technology is truly going to be an exercise of the human imagination in Nigeria, we must learn how it works and how to deploy it to solve our local problems. We need to find a way to globalize it. I imagine a Nigeria that can compete favorably with other developed nations of the world if we make technology our way of life. While all the knowledge we need may not be available at the moment, we can start with what is currently accessible within Nigeria’s Science, Technology, and Innovation (STI) space.