During the Pre-Covid-19 era Information and Communication Technology (ICT) has been Pivotal in maintaining social order.
However, during the Covid-19 Pandemic ICT became even much more important in the entire human society, individuals, businesses and even governments looked to ICT to solve urgent needs and prevent an imminent collapse of the human society.
This growth in the use of ICT brought about a lot of opportunities, these opportunities helped developed countries to advance their ICT but sadly there were a lot of consequences also.
Opportunities for the ICT Sector as a Result of the COVID-19 Pandemic
The pandemic provided the following opportunities in the ICT sector.
Consequences and Opportunities for the ICT Sector as a Result of the COVID-19 Pandemic
Research and development
Many Industries struggled during the pandemic, the economy of various Nations was shaken and some countries like Nigeria went deeper into debt, but as for the ICT sector, various opportunities were provided for more research and development in the ICT.
For example, due to social distancing, and the lookdown associated with pandemics, there was a need for a more efficient audio-visual communication system.
This led to the development of the “Google meet” software and an improvement on the already existing “Zoom” and “Whatsapp” software applications.
During the pandemic after a few months of lockdown, the founder of the Zoom virtual meeting software application became a multi-billionaire.
There was diverse research in many sectors where ICT is used; this advancement especially in the area of Artificial Intelligence (AI) became so pronounced.
For example, several AI‐based computer vision camera systems were deployed in China and across the world to scan crowds for COVID‐19 symptoms and monitor people during the lockdown.
This move does not just enhance Covid-19 monitoring and control but also enhanced the general security network.
The increase in virtual and audio-visual communication in various establishments led to massive employment opportunities for ICT experts, and all professions and skills related to ICT.
Heightened Need for ICT Experts
The lockdown associated with the pandemic reminded a lot of business owners of the need to go “Digital”, this led to an increase in the demand for full-stack, front-end, and web backend developers.
Understanding the need for global visibility, many businesses that need to establish their online presence sought experts in Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
The need for individuals with these ICT or ICT related skills skyrocketed the demand and hence increased the economic value and importance of individuals with such skills.
Increased Sponsorship and Career Opportunities In the ICT Sector
The Pandemic led to increase in the demand of skilled personnel in Computer Programming, Machine learning (ML), AI and Data Science.
Tech giants such as Google and Amazon provided numerous opportunities for individuals with Zero skill to up-skill themselves in ICT or ICT related skill.
Google launched a free online platform known as “Digital Skills for Africa” they also made their machine learning framework known as “Tensorflow” to become an open sourced tool.
Various Governments including the Nigerian government awarded scholarship to those in the ICT field of study.
Zenith bank of Nigeria also organized a computer software application development contest, which saw the youthful winners smile home with scholarships and sponsorships.
Consequences for the ICT Sector as a Result of the COVID-19 Pandemic
There was a lot of negative effect associated with the pandemic as it relates to ICT, and they include but not limited to the following:
Due to the increase in the production of software and automation, many hardware technicians lost their jobs.
Loss of Employment
Many individuals worked and have continued to work remotely; even this assignment is to be submitted remotely, eliminating the need to patronize any startup selling A4 paper, writing materials or cybercafé.
Here is brief statistics released by the Brookings research department during the year 2020 “the unemployment rate for those aged 16-19 increased by 20.9 percentage points.
The result is that while young people age 16-29 make up less than a quarter of the labor force, they accounted for about a third of the rise in the unemployment rate between February and April of this year”. (“This Year” refers to 2020)
Capital Intensive Projects
Due to the massive surge in Traffic received by Telecommunication companies during the pandemic, there was a need to get rid of old systems, and build new ones or upgrade systems in other for the systems to be able to handle the surge in traffic which they are receiving.
These upgrade requires funds, this was a challenge because some nations such as Nigeria sank into recession during the pandemic.
Heightened Security Concerns
The activities of Hackers and cybercriminals became more pronounced during the pandemic, there were many harmful websites that sprung up, webroot released the following disturbing statistics.
Two percent of all COVID-19 websites created in the past few months were malicious.
There has been a 2,000% increase in malicious files with Zoom in their name.
A 40% increase in unsecured remote desktop protocol machines for remote working. With unsecured RDP, cybercriminals will use brute force to gain complete control of the machine.
Unsecured RDP isn’t new, but during the pandemic, the attack area surface is only continuing to grow.
ICT personnel was challenged with the task of securing their systems and that of their clients, this became more evident during the #ENDSARS protest in Nigeria when the Anonymous Group of Hackers claimed to be responsible for multiple attacks on several Governmental and bank websites.
It’s a two-sided coin, while there was an increase in the demand for developers and software technicians, hardware technicians were running out of business.
Although the pandemic provided the opportunity for many to enroll in online ICT courses it also helped cybercriminals to sharpen their skill.
ICT will continue to thrive as the opportunity for research and development provided by the pandemic was second to none.
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