Columnists

Are we ready for a global reset?

085927-01-03

While some people waited for normalcy, others are moving on into a new world. AFP PHOTO

bitangendemo-ima

Summary

  • While some people waited for normalcy, others are moving on into a new world.
  • We are gingerly opening the economy and possibly schools to experiment if learning will take place.
  • Some parents have set aside schooling until it is safe for their children to go back to school.
  • In the meantime, online learning innovations are getting better and promising to leave no one behind.

For the first time since its inception 75 years ago, the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) held its annual meetings virtually. The Covid-19 pandemic continues to reset the way we live and work.

While some people waited for normalcy, others are moving on into a new world. But are we ready for these changes?

We are gingerly opening the economy and possibly schools to experiment if learning will take place. Some parents have set aside schooling until it is safe for their children to go back to school. In the meantime, online learning innovations are getting better and promising to leave no one behind.

Studies are showing that working remotely results in more productivity and is more time-efficient for employees with less need to travel to their usual work places. Worshiping may never be the same. Virtual sermons are becoming popular as are collaborative prayer sessions with family and friends through web conferencing platforms.

They are also getting more innovative with different presentational additions. Zoom's recent collaboration with the emerging Mmhmm app is changing boring presentations into lively interactive productions. The innovations will affect teaching and learning too. Some of these innovations are as a result of many years of behavioral studies aimed at understanding the customer. There is no doubt that the outcomes are so powerful that the intended purpose of getting the consumer's attention has been achieved.

As digital instructional methods change, the demand for adopting such methods increases. This is the reason the future of any work must be underpinned by lifelong learning. Just like a majority of people adopted the use of PowerPoint to make presentations, the new normal will be presentations that make a learning impact. In the future teachers may also double as video production experts.

Now that Covid-19 has accelerated the global reset, policymakers have to act quickly to ensure that the critical infrastructure is in place. Previously, it was not taken seriously when we said that broadband is a human right issue. However, Covid-19 has amplified the necessity of broadband so much so that we must urgently act to ensure that no one is left behind.

To be ready for an almost certain future, we must invest in communication and energy infrastructure. The 5th Generation (5G) broadband rollout, for example, is more urgent now than ever before. Consumers will demand higher speeds to download content that will mostly be in video formats.

New business models in entertainment are reliant on streaming. The future of conferencing like the just concluded UNGA leverages streaming to deliver speeches throughout the world. Then there is the rise in e-health especially in remote parts of Africa.

Further, policymakers should work towards a universal digital literacy programme for citizens. The rate of change is such that soon, and very soon, even currency will be digital. Agricultural industry that supports more than 40 percent of Kenya's total population and more than 70 percent of the country's rural inhabitants is under intensified digitalisation. In essence, without digital literacy, it will be difficult to function in the emerging economies.

There is enough reason to envisage a continuation of irreversible changes. Change is virtually happening in every sector, and each change comes with a more powerful value proposition than the existing one.

Private sector organisations also have a greater role to play in supporting government by reaching out to their stakeholders, building their digital capability, enabling the acquisition of new skills in the spirit of lifelong learning. With such collaboration, the government will be compelled to remove duties on devices and access to broadband.

Digitalisation has changed the rules of success and only those that embrace it will harvest its fruits. Covid-19 has given us the opportunity to align ourselves along the emerging new way of life. Our readiness to use digitalisation for new experiences and value depends on how fast we adopt and develop new business models.