If you take 30 steps linearly you will move roughly 30 meters. However, if you take 30 steps exponentially, you get to a billion meters! Computers have been improving in price-performance at an exponential rate for the last 45 years. In a world of mobile digital technology, a farmer in Anambra State is likely to own a smartphone that is a million times cheaper and smaller, and a thousand times more powerful than a NASA supercomputer in the 1970s. To effectively serve its population the Nigerian population must go digital and become a smart government.
The price performance of mobile digital technologies has grown exponentially. As they become affordable, they spread virally. The 134 million citizens of Nigeria, Africa's most populous country, had just 500,000 telephone lines in 2001 when the government began encouraging competition in telecommunications. The market responded, andNigeria had more than 30 million cellular subscribers. As a side note, it is also important to remember that it wasn't just Nigerians who benefited from these mobile sales. When Nokia’s profits hit $1 billion in 2009, the company said: “…market penetration in Africa was largely responsible.” In 2010 when the Finnish multinational sold its billionth handset it came as no surprise that the sale took place in Nigeria.
In addition to producing a big boost in the local economy, more Nigerians became internet enabled. This allowed Nigeria’s democracy to quickly transmit information about the government via platforms such as Twitter. Also, CSOs started to develop apps that made the national budget process more transparent to Nigerians.
These exponential technologies are known to disrupt governments and major industries, democratise knowledge, and demonetise assets. A desire for government accountability fuels the drive for engagement and reduces the barriers between those at the top and those at the bottom. Occupy Nigeria demonstrated the significance of social media in Nigerian politics. The removal of a fuel subsidy by President Goodluck Jonathan in 2012 led to mass protests which were organised via Twitter. With an estimated one tweet every second during the protest, Occupy Nigeria demonstrated that Nigerians are capable of mobilising to demand change from their government. Occupy Nigeria demonstrates the need for BPSR and politicians to engage with citizens via social media. (Kazeem and Makama, 2014)
Using mobile technology as a means for promoting free and fair elections, Nigeria, in 2011, saw the emergence of Revoda: a mobile application which allowed voters to connect to the entire electoral process. Spearheaded by the Enough is Enough Nigeria Coalition, Revoda enabled parallel vote count, access to polling unit results, transmission of collected results, and additional information about the entire electoral process throughout the country during the elections. However, voting irregularities were a serious problem in several states; and electoral violence reached new heights . In 2015 we will continue to see how social media networks engage with politicians, and the electoral results themselves. (Kazeem and Makama, 2014)
The Nigerian Federal Government, is deploying efforts to adapt to this fast changing and highly communicative social and political environment by increasingly utilising these same technologies.