Meried Bekele
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Information technology is a relatively newer form of transmitting information that took over after the invention of the Internet. Connection, all over the world has been made possible within a fraction of a second helping speed up and secure our method of communication and transfer of information. In today’s digital world where people live and breathe information, data has become the number one sought out resource. Most people these days when talking about information usually refer to digital data, but traditional ways of conveying information have been around since anyone can remember. Information is a major part of everyone’s life whether we are dealing with different types of professions or even in our social life.

Having enough information about a specific subject is called knowledge, and that can be used as a key instrument for various solutions. Information can be used as a means for economic growth, the pursuit of justice, National security, trade growth, health sectors, and as a portrayal of power for a country. These are some of the reasons why those who know the value of information say it is a resource equivalent to fuel, if not more. If anyone is still unconvinced that information is as much of an income generator as fuel or other traditional resources all you have to do is look at the incomes generated by some of the social media companies that made billions selling information and data of their user which in return made these companies influential in different aspect of a country like politics, economics, social interactions and so much more.

Although the Internet was first made in and for the USA, it has been vastly improved and used by developed countries since then, for purposes like cyber security and cyber-attacks. Anyone who can manage information proceeds one step ahead of any obstacles and remains victorious this is why we say in this day and age information, like fuel, is a valuable resource. Improvements and the new vast usage of the Internet for everyday use have been growing rapidly in places like China, Russia, and most of Europe but this growth has been a lot slower in Africa where the consumption has mostly been limited to entertainment.

 It is needless to say Ethiopia is one of the countries that has fallen behind in taking advantage of all the things information technology has to offer. Most of our systems are stuck in their old way of manually recording and storing data where the time and energy wasted on this is completely avoidable. Citizen’s documentation on all levels of government is mainly done manually while creating a system for documentation of basic government activities is not a sophisticated task as other countries have done it 30 or 40 years ago. This proves our slow progress is not a problem caused by the unavailability of resources but an absence of the proper initiation. Digitalizing Ethiopia’s government system and documentation is a task that could be done in 2 years or less without spending a ridiculous amount of money.  If financial constraints were ever the issue there are international organizations that give out funding for projects like this but no known initiation or request was made by the government to digitalize the countries system.

In conformity with the interview Meried Bekele (CEO of IE Network Solutions) had with INSA TV, the first step Ethiopia should consider taking when digitalizing the country’s documentation system is making sure we have the proper infrastructures built and operational. Internet infrastructures should first be available to all our citizens regardless of where they are located and should be reliable. Although actions are being taken by the Ethiopian government, the Internet service currently being provided in the country is limited and unreliable. If we as a country want to solve this problem and take advantage of all the benefits information technology has to offer then we first and foremost need top-down commitment, starting from higher government institutes down to each individual. This committed action would include new laws being implemented, encouraging the private sector, intentionally dealing with the constraints of the industry, supporting startup companies, and the government taking all majors to improve our information technology infrastructures. If a committed decision from our government was made to digitalize the citizen documentation system the day-to-day activities of our country as a whole would improve in just a few years.

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