Based on personal conviction, right now, someone somewhere in the world checking his or her phone for the umpteenth time today. With the way technology and innovation has changed the world, we are more connected than ever. Social media, mobile games and the internet itself have drawn a crowd of users, as such that no minute passes without someone being online, playing a game or reading content off a website – even simultaneously. Well, that’s on the bright side. On the flipside of this advent, the world seems to heavily depend on smartphones for virtually anything. That has raised a decrying number of phone addicts, social media trolls, peddlers of falsifications and a host of many other tech misusers. The things with which a smartphone can be accomplished are in the numerous, and when not used correctly, could turn cataclysmic, to the extent that tech’s cons would seemingly outweigh its pros.
Nigeria is like every other nation in the world when it comes to the use of gadgets. There is no gainsaying in the fact that even the average teenager in the country has a cornucopia of activities carried out on social media. What is the effect? Probably seeing the rate at which youths are using their phones unproductively – posting and texting virtually every minute of the day, one of the leaders rose to the occasion and decided to publicly address the menace.
President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki rendered what has been an eye-opener, decry and clarion call this week – one of the most spontaneous we have ever seen. He implored Nigerian youths to rather use their phones as tools with which they can venture into entrepreneurship, after which self-employment and job creation will follow. Saraki made this charge in Abuja while delivering the Fourth Convocation Lecture of Adeleke University in Osun State.
To buttress his points at the lecture is Bukola’s paper on the “National Development Through Entrepreneurship: The Role of Private Universities in Nigeria”, which informed the public that it has become mandatory for youths to stop seeing their phones as mere fashion accessories, and begin to harness the gadgets’ abilities as potent platforms which will launch them into entrepreneurship and gainful self-employment.
He told the graduands at the University: “I will say that it is probably true that Nigerian youths are currently not leveraging the potential of social media for the stimulation of entrepreneurship in a variety of areas, including those that were unheard of just a few years back. I would love to see more youths in this country put what they learned in their tertiary studies to impactful use by taking advantage of the abundance of opportunities social media has for business ventures”.
According to Bukola, entrepreneurship is a prospect that starts with a mindset, and the creation of networks would follow such notion, along with seeing phones as a medium through which slid ideas can be gestated by getting tutorials to start or ginger new businesses. The President of the Senate made a rather solid point here, as smartphones are virtually connected to a myriad of networks from which ideas can be garnered and put into productive use. The era of deriving fun alone from the internet is slowly going with the wind, as significant startups around the world are leveraging smartphone technology to form springboards upon which their business ideas are catapulted to reach a vastness of similar phone users which the ultimate goal of making money and changing the world.
According to Bukola, unarguably, “There isn’t any reason for any of today’s graduating students cannot become a Jack Dorsey, the co-founder of Twitter with a net worth of USD 5 Bn, or Brian Chesky, the co-founder of Air BnB, or Michelle Phan of the cosmetic business Ipsy, which is now worth USD 300 Mn – not bad for someone who started out by uploading her videos on YouTube”. Because entrepreneurship is vital to the success of Nigeria’s economy, the National Assembly has long prioritized the passage of landmark economic law that will give MSMEs the enablement to grow.
According to a paper by Ifeyinwa Awulor, the development in the telecommunications industry worldwide is quite rapid and unprecedented, as one innovation replaces the other in a matter of weeks. Nigeria takes part in that race for rapid development, as the years of economic reversal via mismanagement have brought about adverse impacts on its growth and development rate. Awulor stated that GSM happens to be the most common mobile communication technology because it has the capacity to solve a variety of communication issues. Most importantly, he said that “Phones have become an essential part of so many lives, making it hard to live without it, to the extent that when it is lost, it feels as if a part of one’s body has left.” This is not just factual about phone use in Nigeria but in other parts of the world. A study conducted by the Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC, shows that Nigeria has the largest mobile phone user base in Africa, boasting of 142 million active lines and more than 167 million phones in the country. The study also showed that active mobile internet subscription has exponentially grown from 63 million in 2014 to more than 81 million in January, with the numbers predicted to double by 2019.
Another research by CcHub – social innovation hub in Lagos that provided empirical phone use data – shows that Facebook is the number one app Nigerian blue-collar workers use. Out of the percent that subscribes for the internet, Facebook, with 25.5 percent, is the most used. Whatsapp came quite close with 25 percent.
On the gory side of smartphone use in Nigeria, Awulor states that it has been transformed into malevolent acts that have soiled the society’s image, decrying that it has made people act abnormally, networks operate erratically, and students are becoming very distracted in class as they are busy texting and taking snapshots. No doubt, mobile phones have played a huge role in people’s lives and the economy of Nigeria, from the reduction of stress to the creation of jobs and connection to the outside world. Nigerian Communications Commission’s report buttresses this by informing that more than 1 million “indirect jobs” have been created by the telephony sector in the past half-decade, significantly alleviating poverty in the process. As people now sell airtime to make profits and make calls at mobile payphones, Nigerians are using the technology to better their living standards. In as much as smartphones have become like the air that people breathe, keeping them connected and informed, it is nonetheless the reason for sundry mayhems that permeate the society. A recent sitting in Abuja revealed many challenges users face and suggested a way to curb the ramp. The major of the discussion was the common service failure that has caused people to recharge and not enjoy the benefits of their hard-earned cash.
Smartphones have increased crime records, with the use shifted from supposed benefits to negative perpetuation. Notoriously known as 419, lawbreakers have used smartphones for illicit, fraudulent acts, including kidnapping who masterminds have devised new methods to gain more clients with the use of their smartphones. There are increased road accidents in urban areas, most of which can be attributed to smartphone technology. Texting and driving, making calls while on the express or even the simple vibration to indicate an incoming call or text messages have been found to cause mishaps and loss of lives on the road. Most of all, mutual coexistence has been reduced among families, as there is no need to write a letter or physically contact loved one anymore – we have cell phones to do that for us. Presently, Nigerian family members can stay apart for years and even decades without having personal contact with one another, breaking the supposed African spirit of unity. All these ills have probably led to the admonishment coming from Bukola Saraki – that instead of giving smartphones the opportunity to bring about a chasm in the Nigerian society, youths should begin to use them as business tools, which will make life, the country and the world at large, better.
Smartphones carry with them mind-blowing potentials that can be used for a variety of purposes. Bukola, in line with this, told private universities to rise to the challenges of promoting private enterprises by ensuring that entrepreneurial skills were taught across various disciplines.
He said: “The education ethos ought to move away from the over-emphasis on theory-based approach and paper certification towards inculcating practical skills that support apprenticeship and boost innovation and industry. This is the place of Vocational and Technical educations which provide that the youth imbibe practical skills that will not only make them employable but will also help the country to build an army of job providers.” Buttressing, the concluding parts of Awulor’s paper says that “The invention of mobile phones was made possible with painstaking research and with the motive of making the world a better and safer place to live. As the world is fast becoming a global village and a necessary tool for this process is communication, of which telecommunication is a crucial element, urgent and positive steps should be made by both private individuals and government to embrace the benefits of this technology, that when utilized judiciously, would enhance lives and improve the economy at large”.