THE FUTURE OF COMMUNICATION AND TECHNOLOGY Predicting the future to a high degree of accuracy is not really a natural capability of mortals, it is more of a divine attribute. However, by studying the past or analyzing data gathered about the past, it is possible to make an intelligent guess of what the future has in store. The development of writing by man is one of the fundamental inventions that has changed not only the way we communicate, but also laid a solid foundation for civilization and technological development. Based on past records, it is clear that the numerous quantum leaps in human development has emanated from enhancement of communication and major technical and scientific inventions. The trend has remained up till today and will most likely remain so well into the future. Therefore as I said earlier we can use these past trends to project into the future and come up with possible evolutional or revolutionary future path for communication and technology. What are the possibilities? 1. Future communication is mobile. The communication services of the future will gravitate towards total mobility. Services are likely to be available everywhere anywhere, whether you are in a submarine that is 10,000 feet below sea level, or you are flying 30,000 feet above sea level, in the middle of the Atlantic ocean or the centre of Sahara desert. Thus the companies that are likely to perform best in future are those that will have the capability to provide access anywhere anytime. 2. Future communication is universal. In future, people are likely to regard access to communication services as a fundamental human right no matter their location, social or economic status. The future is such that owing a telephone will be as common as putting on clothes. 3. Future communication is converged multimedia, that is, access to information will not be limited to voice service only, but everybody will have access to voice, data, video, picture, broadcasting and internet services, using the same platform, the same service provider, the same hand-held device, one number and a single bill at the end of the month 4. Future communication is cheap and affordable. Technological advancement and economies of scale are going to drive down telecommunications prices to the extent that even the poorest people will be able to afford the services and the most illiterate people will be able to use them conveniently. 5. Future communication will have multi-sectoral application. In future, our communication device or service will change the way we operate in other sectors of the economy. It is already affecting the way we bank or provide financial services. It will have greater penetration into other sectors such as agriculture, education, medicine and health services etc. Communication and technological development will definitely affect all aspects of life. It is therefore necessary for all stakeholders, including government, the private sector, the civil society to prepare to face the challenges ahead and adapt to the changes that the revolution in communication and technology is bringing into the world. There will be need to make new laws or change existing laws; government must change the way it governs and its interaction with the citizens. The changes will have security implications; it will erode our privacy and various aspects of our socio-economic life. We must all therefore prepare for the future changes so that it doesn’t come on us like a thief in the night and meet us unprepared. Thank you for listening.