ABERDEEN, Scotland — Nigeria is a land of contrasts: Africa’s largest economy and most populous nation. But beneath its vibrant economy and culture, a large portion of its residents grapple with extreme poverty. The World Bank reveals that 40% of Nigerians — about 83 million people — live below the national poverty line, equivalent to an annual income of 137,430 naira ($381.75).
This socio-economic ailment has widespread consequences, particularly in rural areas and primarily in the North. It often restricts access to basic services like education, health care and electricity.
Yet, hope emerges from technology’s growing influence. This article delves into the multifaceted technical innovations underway in Nigeria, highlighting their potential to alleviate poverty and enhance the quality of life.
Education is a fundamental right, as stated in Article 26 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It is rooted in principles of non-discrimination, equality and inclusivity. Yet, in Nigeria, countless children and youths are denied this right. Overcrowded classrooms, a lack of trained educators, inadequate educational resources and sporadic school attacks hinder progress. What we’re witnessing is the consequence of denied rights, reflecting not just uneven educational resource distribution but deeper systemic social inequalities.
However, some technical innovations appear to alleviate these educational disparities. Digital education dissolves the boundaries of time and space, substantially lowering the cost of knowledge dissemination. A case in point is uLesson, a digital education platform born in Nigeria and now sweeping across Africa. As Sim Shagaya, uLesson’s CEO, puts it, for a monthly fee of around $5 or an annual payment of $70, it’s affordable even for those living on $3-4 a day.
As Nabila A., a student, shared, “At school, we didn’t have a regular chemistry teacher, making the subject daunting. But when I started using the uLesson app, things became clearer.”
uLesson’s innovation lies in its personalized learning approach. It can tailor learning plans based on students’ learning progress and interests, while also offering assistance and guidance for answering questions. According to a uLesson report, nearly 80% find it user-friendly, and a significant 90% rely on it for the upcoming academic year, with 70% integrating it into their summer learning. Students also utilize uLesson for pivotal national exams like the WAEC and BECE.
The essence of technological intervention is to bolster human capital — the blend of skills, knowledge and health accumulated over one’s lifetime. Such accumulation is crucial for economic ascent and poverty alleviation.
In Nigeria, the challenge of timely access to critical medical supplies, especially in emergencies, has found a game-changing solution in LifeBank. Founded in 2015 by Temie Giwa-Tubosun, motivated by a compelling aspiration to address the alarming rate of maternal deaths caused primarily by blood shortages, LifeBank has revolutionized emergency health care logistics through technical innovations.
Using a robust online platform, LifeBank bridges the gap between hospitals and local blood banks, ensuring that vital medical supplies—blood, medical oxygen canisters and medicines — are delivered promptly, often within less than an hour of placing an order. This 24/7 service goes beyond mere delivery. Recognizing the prevalent concern of HIV/AIDS transmission, LifeBank has integrated a feature allowing customers to verify the safety of the blood supplies, fostering trust and reliability in a context where these are paramount.
Further enhancing its reach and effectiveness, LifeBank employs SMS messaging, ensuring hospitals in need can swiftly locate and connect with equipped counterparts, and patients can find institutions with the necessary facilities. This integrated, tech-driven approach ensures that the critical lifeline of medical supplies never falters, making LifeBank an indispensable ally in Nigeria’s health care landscape.
In the sun-drenched expanses of Nigeria, solar energy is a beacon of untapped potential. Despite Nigeria’s stature as Africa’s largest economy, the irony of inconsistent power supply is palpable, leaving millions without reliable electricity.
The remedy might just lie overhead.
Solar panels, equipped with photovoltaic cells, capture sunlight and directly transform it into electricity. This method is not only sustainable but also sidesteps the harmful emissions associated with traditional power generation.
Ogunleye and Mulugetta, scholars from the Federal University of Technology, have championed the transformative benefits of specific solar projects in Nigeria, such as those bringing power to remote schools and health clinics. Beyond mere illumination, these projects are revitalizing communities and industries, offering a cleaner alternative to the smoke-belching diesel generators that have long been a mainstay.
While challenges such as high setup costs and infrastructure constraints exist, the momentum gained from international investments and the evolution of photovoltaic technologies. By harnessing its abundant sunlight and capitalizing on these technological strides, Nigeria stands at the precipice of a brighter, more sustainable future.
In sum, while Nigeria’s challenges — poverty, unemployment and energy crises — remain daunting, the burgeoning technological landscape offers a beacon of hope. As we stride forward, it’s pivotal to harness these innovations, ensuring a brighter, more prosperous future for all Nigerians.
– Yudi Zhang