Big Ideas Platform 2024 Gathers Africa’s Leading Minds to Explore Tech as a Catalyst for Change

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Mediaage NG News – ABUJA, Nigeria

Economic policy expert and an advocate for transparency and good governance, Oby Ezekwesili has described technology as “an incredible potential to unlock opportunities”.

She also said these potentials can only be utilised by those who make themselves available and ready for behavioural change.

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Dr. Ezekwesili, a former Nigerian Finance Minister, revealed this on Saturday at this year’s edition of the Ɓig Idea Platform, hosted by the School of Politics, Policy and Governance.

At the event themed Information Technology and Behavioural Change, she stated that the government must show its readiness to explore technology and ideas capable of improving the growth of the country and its inhabitants.

“It is the dearth of ideas that distinguishes countries, she said.

“The government has demonstrated its unreadiness to explore on ideas. It has kept us stuck on a low equilibrium and realm of what’s possible.

“Through our talented youth, Africa has a brighter future. We are ambitious to make leaders with competence”, she added.

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SPPG CEO Alero Ayida-Otobo emphasised on technology’s pivotal role in tackling Africa’s challenges across sectors like communication, commerce, education, and more. The platform delved into four key subthemes: blockchain technology, environmental awareness, virtual reality, and artificial intelligence (AI). Four prominent African innovators presented their “big ideas” for leveraging these technologies for positive impact.

Former Information Minister, Frank Nweke expressed agreement with what Dr. Ezekwesili said. He disclosed that the African governments have a role to play in technological development in the continent, adding that the continent must be brought into thoughts when technological inventions are developed by the western world.

“Africa has the most youthful population in the world and by 2050, the continent will have the most population globally. So, why are technological inventions and policies not having Africa on the table”? He asked.

Oluseun Badejo, SPPG’s Blockchain Project lead, championed the use of blockchain technology to address issues like certificate forgery and data alteration in the education sector. This secure and cost-effective solution would streamline verification of academic credentials, benefiting both institutions and graduates..

Sian Cuffy – Young from Siel Environment said transformation of waste education begins with a step, entailing that the responsibility of keeping the environment clean rests on an individual, not the government alone.

“No one need to tell you, you have to be your own boost to make things happen. For this to work, you must be specific and singular, address the barriers in changing behaviours. If the barriers are there, how do people cross? She asked.

Sabiqah Bello, representing Ahmad Salkida of HumAngle, a media platform utilising VR to humanise Africa’s conflicts, showcased the power of VR journalism. VR allows viewers to experience the realities of others, fostering deeper empathy and understanding.

Dr. Amina Salihu, the MacArthur Foundation’s Deputy Director for Africa, addressed concerns raised by panellists like Ajibola Amzat, a Nigerian investigative journalist, who emphasised the potential for misuse of technology.

Prof. Remi Sonaiya, a Nigerian politician and educationalist, stressed the importance of ethical considerations and responsible use of technology.

Toyosi Akerele-Ogunsiji, a technology education expert, highlighted the crucial role of AI in information verification. She emphasised the need for AI literacy and integrating AI education into curricula to equip Africa’s future workforce with essential skills.

The event amongst others, aimed to project technology as a tool for positive behavioural change. It also had its objective in making the society understand that behaviour must be singular, change must address barriers, the need to understand the risk in the application of technology which must be assecible to the people it is created for.

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