Abdulmalik Musa is an information technology professional who specialised in value–driving mobile platforms. In this interview with Ngozi Okpalakunne, Musa, a former consultant for Jumia Nigeria, ARM Pension, among others, spoke on the reasons for increased rate of cybercrime in the country and how such crime can be abated. He also spoke, among other issues, about the impact of artificial intelligence on the job market and the way individuals can upgrade themselves in order not to be left out. Excerpts.
How would you rate Nigerians’ acceptance of Information Technology?
The level of acceptance of Information Technology (IT) in Nigeria has been steadily increasing over the past few years. Nigerians are becoming more tech-savvy and embracing IT solutions in various aspects of their lives.In the business sector, many Nigerian companies are adopting IT to streamline their operations, improve efficiency, and expand their customer base. E-commerce has gained significant traction in the country, and many Nigerians now shop online, which is a testament to their acceptance of IT-driven solutions for convenience and access to a wider range of products and services.
In education, there is a growing interest in online learning platforms and e-learning solutions, especially with the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. This demonstrates that Nigerians are increasingly open to leveraging IT for educational purposes.
Additionally, the Nigerian government has initiated various IT-related projects and policies to promote digital inclusion and innovation. The National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) has been actively involved in driving IT awareness and development across the country.
However, it is important to note that challenges such as limited internet access in some rural areas and the digital divide still exist, which can hinder widespread IT acceptance.
Additionally, concerns about data privacy and cyber security need to be addressed to further enhance the trust and acceptance of IT solutions.
Overall, Nigerians’ acceptance of IT is on the rise, and it plays a pivotal role in various aspects of their daily lives, business, and education. With continued efforts to improve infrastructure and address digital literacy and security concerns, the country is poised for even greater IT adoption and integration in the future.
The rate of cybercrime is high among the youth, what, in your opinion, may be responsible for this and what is the way out?
The high rate of cybercrime among the youth can be attributed to several factors, and addressing this issue requires a multifaceted approach.
One of the factors responsible for high rate of cybercrime among young individuals is digital literacy gap. Many young people lack proper education and awareness about online security and the consequences of cybercrime. Schools and communities should emphasise digital literacy and cyber-security education from an early age to bridge this gap.
Another factor is peer pressure and social engineering. Youth are often more susceptible to peer pressure and social engineering tactics that can lead to cybercriminal activities. Encouraging critical thinking, skepticism, and ethical behavior can help combat this problem.
Also, the anonymity provided by the internet can embolden young individuals to engage in cybercrime. Law enforcement agencies should work to improve online tracking and accountability measures.
There is also economic factors. Financial motives drive many cybercrimes. Youth unemployment and financial struggles can push some individuals towards illegal online activities. So, providing more economic opportunities, especially in the tech sector, can help deter cybercrime.
Mental Health and Well-being is also another factor. Some young people turn to cybercrime as a result of stress, anxiety, or feelings of isolation. Promoting mental health awareness and support services can mitigate this aspect.
The way out of this issue involves a combination of preventive and punitive measures.
There is need to implement comprehensive cyber-security and digital literacy programmes in schools and communities to educate young people about online risks and responsible online behavior.
On the other hand, the law enforcement agency should strengthen cyber-security law enforcement and penalties for cybercrimes, while also providing avenues for rehabilitation and education for young offenders.
Mentorship is also crucial as it encourages positive role models and mentors who can guide young individuals away from cybercrime and towards legal and ethical pursuits.
There is also need to promote the use of effective cyber security tools and software to protect individuals from falling victim to cybercrimes.
Communities, parents, and guardians should be involved in monitoring and guiding the online activities of young people.
There should be government and industry collaboration. Governments and the tech industry should collaborate to create safer online environments, enforce regulations, and promote ethical behaviour.
Artificial Intelligence, including robots will soon take over some jobs. What do you think is the implication of this on the job market?
The impact of artificial intelligence, including robots, on the job market is a complex and evolving issue. While it’s true that AI and automation technologies are changing the way we work, it’s essential to consider both the positive and negative aspects of this transformation.
On the one hand, AI and robots have the potential to increase efficiency and productivity in various industries, leading to economic growth. They can handle repetitive, dangerous, or labor-intensive tasks, reducing the risk of accidents and improving overall job safety.
Additionally, they can perform tasks with high precision, which can be particularly valuable in fields like healthcare and manufacturing.
On the other hand, there are concerns about the displacement of human workers due to automation. Some jobs may become obsolete, and workers in those industries could face unemployment or the need to acquire new skills. It’s crucial to acknowledge these challenges and provide support and opportunities for affected workers to transition to new roles or industries.
To address this issue, governments, businesses, and educational institutions should work together to promote workforce retraining and up-skilling programmes. These initiatives can help individuals adapt to the changing job landscape and find new employment opportunities. It’s also vital to consider the ethical and societal implications of AI, including ensuring that AI technologies are developed and used responsibly to mitigate negative consequences.
Individuals who are at risk of losing their jobs due to technological advancements like AI and automation can take several steps to adjust and prepare for the changing job market.
They can start by evaluating their current skills, strengths, and interests. Consider what they enjoy doing and where their skills align with emerging job opportunities. This self-assessment can help one identify potential career paths.
Such individuals can research the skills and qualifications that are in demand in their desired field or industry. This might include digital literacy, data analysis, programming, or other technical skills. Acquiring these skills can make one a more competitive job candidate.
Also, they can explore educational and training opportunities. Many universities, colleges, and online platforms offer courses and programmes that can help one acquire new skills or upgrade existing ones.
Having been in IT industry for some years, what are some of the factors hampering the development of the sector in Nigeria?
There is insufficient and often unreliable infrastructure, including power supply and internet connectivity, can hinder IT development.
Disparities in access to IT resources and education exist between urban and rural areas, limiting IT penetration.
Shortage of skilled IT professionals and limited opportunities for IT education and training can impede progress.
Another factor has to do with regulatory and policy issues. There is inconsistent regulations, bureaucratic obstacles, and a lack of supportive policies, this can discourage IT investment.
Besides, economic instability, inflation, and inadequate funding can affect IT businesses and startups.
Also, political instability and corruption can undermine the conducive environment for IT growth.
To address these challenges, there is need for the government to invest in Infrastructure. Improve and expand the country’s infrastructure, including reliable power supply and broadband connectivity.
There is need to develop policies and programmes to bridge the digital divide, particularly in rural areas, and ensure affordable access for all.
What informed your decision to venture into Information Technology?
My decision to venture into Information Technology was informed by a series of experiences and a profound shift in my interests. Initially, I had always dreamed of becoming a pilot, drawn to the idea of soaring through the skies. However, fate had a different path in store for me.
The turning point came when I had my first interaction with a desktop computer, a moment that would forever alter the course of my ambitions. It was a humble setup, complete with a DOS-based operating system, and its primary purpose, at that time, was for playing computer games. Little did I know that this seemingly innocent encounter with technology would ignite a passion that would shape my future.
Read also: Four jailed in Kwara over cybercrime
As I delved deeper into the world of computing, I was captivated by the limitless possibilities it offered. The ability to manipulate code to create programmes and applications, solve complex problems, and explore the vast realm of the digital universe fascinated me. The logic, problem-solving, and creativity required in Information Technology resonated with me in a way that flying never had.
I realised that IT was not just a career path, but a journey of constant learning, innovation, and adaptation. It was a field that allowed me to make a tangible impact on people’s lives and businesses through technology. This realisation, coupled with my early fascination with computer games, led me to choose Information Technology as my calling.
Since that moment, I dedicated to honing my skills, expanding my knowledge, and contributing to the ever-evolving world of IT. The decision to pursue this field has been a thrilling and rewarding one, and I am excited to continue exploring the endless possibilities that Information Technology has to offer.