The impact of IT on the economy and standard of living in The Gambia
By Kejau Touray, University of Liverpool
During this century, many countries have seen serious economic problems and constantly looking for ways to stimulate their economies and create jobs for their youths, which make up the largest number in developing countries. Information Technology, has seen the fastest growth, creating millions of jobs directly but it is also seen as a direct innovator of services and tools for development. The Gambia, emerging from 22 years of dictatorship is no exception, with its youths among the highest number of illegal migrants to Europe and other developed countries. The government and businesses are actively looking for ways to create jobs for these youths at home. IT can be solutions to our employment problem but IT also encourage innovation of new and existing services and tools to ensure reduction waste and improve productivity. Skills training and ICT infrastructure is need to reduce the digital divide, existing in the various regions in the country and for the country itself to reduce the digital divide between it and other nations, especially the developed countries (Dey, 2016), as the competitiveness of a nation’s economy depends on how well it uses new technologies, like IT.
IT can alleviate poverty and improve the lives of the citizens as it touches all areas of a country’s economy, and created more wealth for the last 15 years than any sector in the developed as well as developing world. IT can be used in The Gambia, to increase the nation’s competitiveness globally, using innovation in new and in existing application and help create of new economies such as e-commerce, e-banking, healthcare and biotechnology (Constantinescu, 2017). By training our people in highly sought after IT jobs, with a well educated and English speaking IT skilled workforce, the illegal migration dubbed the ‘backway’ can truly be history. All that is needed is well established broadband and western standard electricity supply to enable Gambians can get essential 20th century skills and enable them to create IT jobs as well as get freelancing and outsourcing jobs, and to earn European standard pay whilst living in sunny and sandy beaches of The Gambia, known as the smiling coast of Africa.
Impact on standards of living and wellbeing
Innovation in technology, especially IT, creates new products in almost every service and helps transforming them into productive services, creating jobs, increasing a country such as The Gambia’s competitiveness globally which result in improving the quality of life of its citizens (Constantinescu, 2017). With every country experiencing e-skills gap as computer science enrollments in higher institutions dwindle against the rising need for more skilled IT professionals, resulting in companies paying obscene salaries for IT professionals (E-skills gap a concern for EU, 2013). This has created many opportunities for developing countries to train their citizens to be able fill in those gaps whilst staying at home and being paid good salaries and improving the country’s economies. Freelancing or online outsourcing (OO), can be a great source of employment and skill gap closing opportunities for both developing and developed economies, respectively. The 2015 Human Development Report quoted a study that estimates £2.2 trillion in GDP and more than 140 million new jobs in India and Africa could be created, if developing countries have the same IT infrastructure as in the developing countries (Avgerou, 2017).
The contribution to the growth of GDP by IT is evident in all countries, developing and developed. Although neo-economists in these developers country fear that IT, automation in particular, will deprive the citizens of cheap factory and office jobs, early researches by ‘ICT for Development’ (ICT4D) shows that computers and IT can eradicate inefficient and corruption in government, improve healthcare, education as well as a growth in a countries competitiveness and growth (Avgerou, 2017). In fact IT has a much more dramatic impact on the economies of developing countries than those in the developed world impacting all income groups unlike developed countries (Constantinescu, 2017). Advertisement growth, e-commerce, fintech and other payment facilities, account for growth in GDP, apart of the tax from IT professional’s PAYE.
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