Oladipo, O.F., Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, Nigeria
The importance of mainstreaming youth empowerment in national and organizational ICT policies and strategies cannot be overstated as it can help catalyze social change and empowerment. Experts have revealed that the youth all over the developing economies are facing multiple socio economic questions; what makes a difference is what policy measures and action plans are being put in place to address those problems and how committed is the political leadership in each of the countries. Nigerian youths are facing serious challenges ever imagined to face a young generation in any century; from unemployment to disillusionment, it is a galore of disconnections from the mainstream of the society. However, the Internet has been promoted as an important tool in ensuring that marginalized groups, particularly the youths are included in the development of the global information society and a number of web-based initiatives offer additional ways to educate young people.
This paper focused on the evaluation of a number of policies and programs in Nigeria that are turning to the Internet to communicate with young people about entrepreneurship and self empowerment bearing in mind that in most rural communities in Nigeria, only the most primitive telecommunications infrastructure is currently available. The authors reviewed how the Internet had been used as a tool for reaching youth with case studies from across Nigeria. A growing number of programs by the states and national governments that are turning to the Internet to communicate with young people about mentoring, self-empowerment and entrepreneurship were appraised in the paper. The challenges of using these technologies such as physical access to technology; socioeconomic factors, like income and education; demographic characteristics, such as age, gender, and geographic location; and culture were examined as well as strategies deployed to overcome them. Finally, research results suggested a moderate level of Internet access among youth in the country and pointed to the significant interest that youth have in this technology towards self-empowerment. Also, questions such as the effect of Internet technology programs on knowledge, attitudes, behaviour, or use of services, cost-effectiveness, the features that made them successful and how such projects can be improved and expanded were answered.