UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA - AFRICAN STUDIES CENTER
1.1 BACKGROUND INFORMATION ON NIGERIA
The Federal Republic of Nigeria is a tropical country on the West African Coast along the Gulf of Guinea, with the Republic of Benin to the West , Niger to the North, Chad to the North-East and Cameroon to the East and South-East.
The climate is tropical. In the South, the average annual temperature is about 32oc, with high humidity and the average annual rainfall above 3,800mm in parts of the South-East. It is drier and semi-tropical in the North, and the average annual rainfall may be as low as 625mm.
Nigeria covers an area of some 923,769 sq.km, and situated between latitudes 4o and 14oN of the equator. In some parts of the country, latitude tends to modify the high humid and hot temperature associated with tropical rain-forest regions.
The vegetation ranges from rain forest in the south, through deciduous forest to grasslands dotted with shrubs which finally shades into the dry desert regions. Within the past few decades, desert encroachment has threatened human and cattle life in the northern - most parts of the country. The southern part is characterised by undulating hills, occasionally rising to as high as 3000 to 5,000 meters in some places. The northern part shows the same features but rising to a plateau in the centre and north-eastern part of the country to about 8,000 metres above sea level.
The two major rivers transversing the country are Rivers Niger and Benue, in a confluence at Lokoja, from where they flow through a series of creeks in the delta region into the Atlantic Ocean. Other inland drainage areas and important rivers are Cross-River, Imo River, Kaduna River, and Lake Chad.
1.1.1 Demographic and Cultural Diversity
The peoples of Nigeria are many and varied. They include the Fulanis, the Yorubas, Hausas, Igbos and a large number of Northern and Southern ethnic groups. These variations have combined to produce a very rich admixture of cultures and art, which form the heritage of modern Nigeria.
The Nigeria census in 1963 recorded a total of 55.670.055. There was another census in 1973, but the results were never published. In 1984, the population of Nigeria was officially estimated at over 94 million. Nigeria's population today is put at about 100,000,000 on a land mass of approximately 930,000sq. kms. It is a Federation of thirty states and Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory. The climatic conditions range from wet and humid in the South to dry and hot in the North.
There have been suggestions that more than 45% of the Nigerian populace are under 20 years old and are still of school going age. This has put a lot of pressure on the educational systems of the country, and eventually on the labour market. The economy is therefore being planned to grow fast enough to provide jobs for the many school leavers annually.
Furthermore, the rural-to-urban migration has been found to be growing daily and thus creating unprecedented problems of health and housing, transportation, law and order. This puts a lot of pressures on the delivery systems for these social services. In spite of this, majority of Nigerians still live in rural areas, living on subsistence farming, trading, rural industries, and crafts.
1.1.2 Some Telecommunication Information on Nigeria
The total number of subscribers to telephone lines as at the end of December 1986 was put at around 230,000 while Telex subscribers were only 5,300 in number. Total installed capacity for telephone then was 320,834 and telex 11,577. The percentage utilisation for telephone therefore was 71.6 per cent while telex was approximately 45.7 per cent. However, modernity in telecommunications has provided facilities that make for new class of service, improved revenue generation with properly reviewed tariff policy. Now, in 1996, the country has almost 1,000,000 subscribers to telephone lines all of which are handled by standard A antennae facing both the Indian and the Atlantic Ocean Regions installed at four (4 NO.) different geographical locations across the country. Nigeria operates a Domestic Satellite System by leasing three (3 No.) transponders from INTELSAT which are accessed by nineteen (19 No.) Standard B earth stations in some state capitals of the Federation. There is a Territorial Manager responsible for Telecommunications Administration in each state except Lagos state where because of the relatively large number of switching centres and subscribers in the metropolis, it was considered prudent to have at least two (2No.) Territorial managers.
Nigeria embraced Digital Technology since the 1980s with the introduction of Digital Switches and Transmission Systems (Radio and Optic fibre) into the network. Since the beginning of the 90s, Mobile Telephone Services (Cellular), Paging and Electronic Mail have also been part of the services offered by NITEL (Nigerian Telecommunications Plc). NITEL now has an X.25 and X.40 switching facilities in its network. Today however, to a population of One hundred million (100m), the figure of more than half a million telephone lines in the country means in effect, a very low telephone density ratio; though the country has the largest number of telephones in any one country in Africa.
1.1.3 Economic and Socio-Political Climate of Nigeria
The importance of communication in any country whether developed or developing is so obvious. In fact the inter-relationship between the economic development of a country and effective telecommunication services is so interwoven that it is difficult to tell which one comes first. Suffice it to say however, that most developed nations have the more developed telecommunications infrastructures and services. While the inhabitants of the developed world look forward to enjoying the full benefits of the so-called "Information Society" by the year 2000, the situation in the developing world is the opposite. For example, it is well known that the city of Tokyo has more telephones than the whole of the continent of Africa with a population of 500 million.
This type of disparity, coupled with the interest of common humanity, led the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) to seek ways and means of not only bridging the gap but also enabling humanity, as a whole, to cooperate towards a common goal of telecommunications service within easy reach of all people at the turn of the century. One of these ITU efforts (2) culminated in the Resolution (No.20) adopted by the Plenipotentiary Conference of ITU in Nairobi, 1982, which called for the establishment of "an International Commission for worldwide telecommunications development.
The Resolution mandated the Commission, inter alia, "to recommend a range of methods including novel ones for stimulating telecommunications development in the developing world using appropriate and proven technologies in ways which would:
a) serve the mutual interest of governments, operating companies, the public and specialised user groups in the developing world and of the public and private sectors in the developed world; and
b) lead to progressive achievement of self-reliance in the developing world and the narrowing of the gap between the developing and developed countries".
The Independent Commission for Worldwide Telecommunications Development, which was set up, eventually submitted its report, titled the "Missing Link" which is famous for its contents and recommendations on world telecommunications development especially in the developing world.(3) The ITU felt it necessary that after the submission of the report, a World Telecommunications Development Conference should be held to go through it.
This Conference (4) was held and brought together Members of the Union at ministerial level to study and exchange views on the many aspects of the report of the Independent commission that had national government policy implications. This was the first Conference of its kind and it reflected the importance that the ITU gives to telecommunications development particularly in the developing countries.
The Conference adopted on 30th May, 1985 the Arusha Declaration which, in many ways, was expected to help in the bridging of the telecommunications gap, if conscientiously implemented.
In addition to the Arusha Declaration, it is pertinent to also recall the Lagos Plan of Action for the Economic Development of Africa which incorporated in its programme of action, the Transport and communications Decade for Africa which aimed at rapidly developing the transport and communications infrastructure of the continent to respond to the political, economic and social aspirations of the continent. Furthermore, an Africa Telecommunications Development Conference was also organised by ITU on behalf of the Panaftel Coordinating Committee, in Tunis, Tunisia, from January 12 to 16, 1987. It dealt with various aspects of telecommunications development plans in Africa.(5)
In the pre-colonial days, Nigerians lived under political systems with varying degrees of sophistication in terms of organisation and management of their own affairs.
In 1960, Nigeria became an independent country. Since independence, Nigeria as a nation has experienced frequent political changes. It has had eleven governments of which seven have been military and four civilian. Presently, Nigeria is having a military government.
The colonial infrastructures vis-a-vis roads, railways, telecommunication, system of administration, language and common rules of commerce, educational institutions and colonial townships-have al helped to rub the rural Nigerians of their tribal nature and made them available for the development of the new nation.
Urban areas have continued to grow and telecommunication facilities are increasing at a tremendous rate; educational institutions are growing and attracting more and more young people to come into contact with one another. Associations and other professional bodies are recruiting membership on the basis of achievements. All these augur well for a nation in the making.
Economic development during the colonial era, under the British, supported the production of raw materials and tropical products like palm-oil, palm-kernel, rubber, cocoa, groundnut, groundnut oil, and timber, and also minerals for export.
Since the discovery of oil in 1970, oil has come to dominate the whole economy and trade of Nigeria.
In the Second Development Plan 1970-74, the role of the government was reviewed and stated explicitly. The rationale for the government role in the economy was stated as follows:
..."that progress would be faster, if the nation is motivated in its economic activity by a common sound purpose. Effective coordination ..... easier when they all subscribe to a common goal and operate under a common impetus(1).
For a long time, the influence of the government in the economy has been all pervading, not restricted to the traditional areas of providing infrastructural support, law and order, but has made direct investments via its numerous publicly owned corporations, companies and joint ventures in the direct production of some goods.
The foundation of the modern economy of Nigeria was laid during the implementation of the 2nd Development Plan. The 3rd Development Plan 1975 - 1980 adopted the objectives of the 2nd Plan and also adopted the following implementing and measurable objectives:
i) Increase in per capita income
ii) More even distribution income
iii) Reduction in the level of unemployment
iv) Increase in the supply of high level manpower
v) diversification of the economy
vi) Balanced diet
vii) Indigenization of economic activity
The third plan was aided by OPEC and sustained favourable balance of payments positions, then.
The execution of the 3rd Development Plan recorded significant achievement in various fields of the economy. But due to some operational problems and many other reasons, the performance fell short of the high expectations prevailing at the outset of the plan.
With the introduction of the 4th Development Plan which coincided with the return of the civilian rule under a new Presidential type constitution, almost immediately the oil prices and demand started to fall and the expected revenue declined.
With the introduction of SAP (Structural Adjustment Programme) in 1986, as compared with the pre-early 1980s there was renewed interest in making use of local technological resources with increased local sourcing of industrial raw materials. The increased renewed interest was due to some factors which included political interest in self-reliance and the need of finding production techniques more appropriate to distributional and employment objectives. SAP, though increased the local sourcing of industrial raw materials in Nigeria, has not contributed significantly to the technological development of the country mainly because of the increased local cost of importing those inputs that cannot yet be produced locally. One major problem is the shortage of machinery and spare parts, since very limited capacity exist in Nigeria for local fabrication of the simplest machine, and equipment with the result that even the machine designed or adapted by research institutes were hardly commercialised.
Inadequate or ineffective dissemination and use of information is assumed to be responsible for the slow pace of industrial development in Nigeria. For rapid industrialization, dissemination of usable research findings to industrialists in the language and format they understand is one major factor. The inability of the publication and utilization of research findings has also resulted in a considerable proportion of researchers carrying out activities which have very little or no relevance to science and technology and industrial developments.
1.1.4 ELECTRONIC COMMUNICATIONS AND THE TELECOMMUNICATIONS SYSTEM
While the existence of information does not necessarily ensure its use, the real value of an information system lies in the servicing of specific user needs. In order to solve this problem, and hoist the country on the path of greater technological and overall socio-economic development as well as create a new lease of life for the citizenry, a planned increase in penetration of telecommunications services has been seen as a welcome development for national growth.
Every human society, from the most primitive to the most advanced, depends on some form of telecommunications network. It will be virtually impossible for any group of people to define their collective identities or make decisions about their common and binding interests, without communications. Communication networks make society a reality.
It makes it possible for people to cooperate, to produce and exchange commodities, to share ideas and information and to assist one another in times of need.
Indeed, every facet of the basic rights is dependent on telecommunication. Such basic rights of the individual as the right to life, the right to personal liberty and dignity, the right to free expression and information and the right to free movement, all of which enhance the quality of life of the individual, are facilitated by telecommunications.
Electronic Communications involve the process by which messages are sent across the globe through the use of the computer, telephone line and a modem. Unlike the fax system which allows one page of text to be transmitted at a time, electronic communication facility allows several pages to be processed off-line and through a single dialling, it allows these several pages of messages to be transmitted to a gateway where they can be distributed to their various destinations.
Furthermore, electronic communication involves any of several forms of information exchange between two or more computers through any of several methods of interconnection such as telephone line, optical fibre, satellite or radio. This communication mode is rapidly spreading throughout the world as a fast, reliable and in most applications, an inexpensive form of communication. It is fast and inexpensive because it can use existing public telephone lines, a dedicated (leased) line or via microwave radio frequency.
The foregoing is indicative of the requirements necessary to induce a meaningful development of telecommunications infrastructure in Africa.
1.1.5 The Geopolitical Structrue of NITEL
This section of this report examines geopolitical structure and policy phasing and its implications on the pursuit of profit and social services objectives including national interest and unit within the framework of telecommunications policy in Nigeria. Geopolitics in its generic sense attempts to explain world political developments in terms of geographic space. It emphasizes fact of physical and economic geography seen either as opportunities or limitations in the pursuit of specific goals and objectives.
The geopolitical structure and policy phasing is also well demarcated when we examine the functions and roles of which the Nigerian Telecommunications (NITEL) was set up. NITEL was established to provide efficient telecommunications services to all parts of the Federation and to link Nigeria with all parts of the world with emphasis on those countries maintaining strong economic and political relations with Nigeria. In its external services, it was also mandated to give priority to the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) sub-region and other independent African States as a reflection of Nigeria's foreign policy.
On domestic telecommunications services and the implications of pursuing multiple objectives, i.e. socio-political and economic policies on the operations of NITEL, the enormous difficulties in evolving and implementing telecommunications policies and programmes in Nigeria became apparent when consideration is given to the large size and regional distribution of the country's population and the structure of the country's rural settlements. An effective coverage of all parts of the Federation in the supply of telecommunications services depended on resource availability and effective planning and co-ordination of the systems network as well as efficient management and technical operations. Telecommunications is a capital intensive industry. However, with resource constraints, a phased approach to network expansion was adopted. This called for sound investment decisions, technological and management innovations, operational and financial efficiency and generation of profits sufficient enough to efficiently maintain and expand telecommunications services to all parts of the Federation.
Prior to 1985, the internal and external telecommunications services were provided and managed by two distinct organisations, namely the Posts and Telecommunications Department, for internal services and the Nigerian External Telecommunications Ltd for external services. This situation was fraught with problems. The Posts and Telecommunications Department consisted of two dissimilar businesses with different operating objectives and environments. The Postal Service was essentially social in outlook. As telecommunications on the whole is a commercial operation, there were difficulties in the management of these two services to the detriment of the public interest of having good communications facilities. Further, the existence of separate organisations for the management of the internal and external telecommunications networks did not augur well for efficient national telecommunications network because of lack of co-ordination that existed between the two operating entities in development planning, project phasing, implementation, operation, maintenance and billing. This separate existence of the operating entities often resulted in duplication in investment with consequential heavy demand on scarce national financial and human resources for telecommunication development. It also affected the promotion of cross subsidisation from the more lucrative international sector to the not-so-lucrative domestic sector which was beset with problems arising from logistics and maintenance due to, among other things equipment spread.
Organisational problems were not the only one that retarded telecommunication development efforts in Nigeria. Others including the following, deserve special mention:
a) The planned objective could not always be achieved due mainly to shortage of funds, inadequate executive technical manpower and uncoordinated project management.
b) Rapid advancement in technology is making the procurement of spare parts for maintenance of existing systems a costly undertaking as these were then obtainable from fewer sources than before.
c) Lack of equipment standardisation which created problems of spare parts stocking.
d) The inadequacy of the tariff, at times, has made generation of revenue to cater for recurrent capital expenditure and future development difficult.
e) Lack of future plan, information and needs from local government areas.
f) Lack of co-ordination of infrastructural planning.
(g) Poorly defined and discontinuous policies on national development plans.
The net effect of these problems was constant failure to attain planned targets and poor performance of the telecommunications undertaking in the country.
It is pertinent, however, to point out that these problems are being tackled within the limits of the authority and resources of the new organisation, NITEL. For example, plans have been completed to start the establishment of standards for equipment operation and architecture, while at the same time the tariff is being reviewed to reflect the reality of the present-day operational costs. The NITEL organisation is such that it is now very easy to contact local government areas for information about their development plans where these exist. Also, efforts are being made to follow up equipment standardisation with local manufacture of telecommunications equipment. In fact, the centralisation of the control of the international and domestic services has led to an improvement in the operation and maintenance of the national network and the situation is such that NITEL is now able to pay all salaries from its earnings.
Telecommunications is both dynamic and capital intensive and in view of its catalystic effect on the development of other sectors of the economy such as agriculture, health, tourism and education and its necessity for the commercial, industrial, socio-economic and political development of the country, the need for an orderly and efficient development of telecommunications infrastructure in Nigeria has now been found more urgent in order to keep pace with the development of the other sectors of the economy.
The overall national objective on telecommunications may be stated in general terms as the provision of modern, efficient, reliable and adequate telecommunications services in the country subject to the constraints of available resources. In addition to the overall national objective, there are several sub-objectives which deal with specific aspects of telecommunications such as types of services to be provided, quality or service, operational and equipment standards, etc. These objectives have often led to a set of policies within the framework of the national policy.
At the national level, the general objectives are; to promote an orderly and efficient development of telecommunications, and to promote the provision of efficient public telecommunication services in Nigeria. In the fulfilment of these objectives, decisions have been taken on certain issues, some of which are:-
Legislation of Telecommunications;
Role of Government;
Rights of Citizens;
Competitions and Monopoly;
National Security, etc.
1.2 The Nigerian Society and the Information Sector
In some of the present thirty states in Nigeria, the proportion of rural urban dwellers is estimated at over 75% but, generally, Nigeria claims an average of about 70%. Some 80% of these inhabitants are engaged in agriculture and other extractive subsectors, that is, nearly three-fifths of the total population are engaged in the primary activities of growing food (and mining).
Significantly, the agriculture sector in the United States of America employed 44% of that country's population some 100 years ago, but only 2% of the population is today engaged in feeding the entire nation (and exporting food also). A two -sector aggregation of the same American labour force data translates to 92% of all USA workers engaged in non-information activities in 1880, and 8% in the information sector. Today, the population engaged in the information sector is about equal to that in all the other sectors put together, that is about 50%.
Similar changes are reported in other industrialised societies, as in Europe. These countries are said to have arrived at the Information Age or the Post-industrial Age, which is assumed generally to have begun in the 1960's with the discovery of the transistor.
The information Society is characterised by certain relevant dimensions, including:
the change from a goods producing to a service society;
the centrality of theory in technological innovations (as against intuitive inventiveness and craft); and
the application of decision rules in place of intuitive judgements, as in modern management of systems (analysis), organisations and enterprises.
Subsequent sections of this report examine the ways information and communication are being introduced into the economic and social development of the country.
1.3 Telecommunications and Economic Development: Challenges and Opportunities.
Telecommunications are a key infrastructure of economic and social development for the second half of the 21st century. They provide, as facilitator, an enabling condition for carrying on the dominant pursuits of the modern day, namely, of the Information Age. Two types of information business can be identified: the first is associated information, such as derives from the need to transact businesses related to the primary and secondary occupations of extracting (agriculture and mining) and manufacturing. The second is a commodity that is based on information and knowledge.
During the first 50 or so years of the telephone, it was devoted to serving the needs of the traditional economic (and social) sectors, for moving goods from source to consumer. The objective of development in switched or two-way telecommunications was almost entirely the universal penetration of the Plain Old Telephone (POT). The telephone was invaluable for carrying out voice communication over short and long distances. In this circumstance, it was not the agricultural and mining sectors of the economy that called for the most use of the POT but, rather, the manufacturing, distributive and management subsectors.
Where manufacturing is weak, however, as with rural communities and most third-world nations, the penetration of the ordinary voice telephone was expectedly low.
It is clear that the African countries are grossly underwired and their telecommunications facilities quite clearly underdeveloped. An analysis, showing the correlation between national GDP and telephone density revealed the link between economic affluence and the penetration of telecommunications. It is only of academic interest as claimed by Maduka whether it is affluence that came before the telephone or it is the telephone that created the affluence. By treating telecommunications as an infrastructure, the notion is that wealth and affluence can thereby be enhanced, but a quick evaluation of the cost of the telephone line shows that it probably requires an affluent economy to pay for the minimum UN recommended telephone density, of one line per 100 inhabitants. Today, the Nigerian statistic is about 0.66 lines per 100 inhabitants. A combination of the latest census figure and the drastic devaluation of the Nigerian currency (Naira) value is naturally of considerable interest and interpretation to different professionals and scholars.
In the Information Society, information is also a stand-alone commodity, not merely associated with primary or industrial production, but essentially with services, including communication itself. The range of these services includes messengering, broadcasting, advertising, news services, databases, financial and several other professional services. The computer falls in the centre of this rapidly developing information business and the countries which have attained this tertiary or information stage of occupation have large telephone densities. At this point in time, it would be difficult to try to identify a threshold for this stage to be attained. Workers in this stage are finding the POT rather inadequate for the high demands which they now place on telecommunications. They need to be freed from the short cable or leash on the telephone instrument, hence the cordless phone; they have to be reached anywhere (mobile), they manage their time critically (voice/electronic mail) and the need to access large masses of data at high speed, for decision-making in the highly competitive world of modern global business.
1.4 TECHNOLOGY DEVELOPMENT AND TELECOMMUNICATIONS POLICY
1.4.1 Background Information
Technology development refers to the translation of research results into goods and services as well as improvement on existing technologies based on cost and effective evaluation.
Science and Technology have become critical factors of economic and social development. Through their application, it has become possible to harness the forces of nature and to transform the raw material resources with which nature endows man into goods and services for better quality of life. Indeed, the extent to which a nation is committed to this awareness and integrates science and technology practice into the socio-cultural activities of its people marks the difference between developed, developing and under-developed nations. The developed world has attained technological sophistry, by exploiting science and technology to create wealth, save human energy and provide technical services. A country like Japan which has very little natural resources but depends on importation of raw materials from other countries has, through efficient application of science and technology transformed these materials into goods and services and now dominate world markets. On the other hand, the developing countries have economies which are very dependent on the industrialised world, because they have not on their own been able to adequately use science and technology to exploit their natural resources. They possess abundant resources but lack adequate scientific and technological know-how to transform them into goods and services.
1.4.2 The Status of S & T in Nigeria
Nigeria is a developing country, yet on the threshold of industrialisation. The industrial and service sector is still heavily dependent on importation of machinery from overseas countries to keep the wheels of industry going.
The maintenance of these machines, in most cases, is also provided by external experts. This situation is also very true for the telecommunications sector. Telecommunications development in Nigeria so far is wholly dependent on foreign technologies. In most cases, investment by multinationals has meant a mere relocation of facilities without the transfer of ability to innovate since all the elements of technology required to make telecommunication succeed are most often transferred in a package. The main constraint to rapid telecommunications development in Nigeria has therefore been attributed to lack of science and technology capacity for:
i) plant construction and installation;
ii) fabrication of plant and machinery;
iii) technical and managerial activities;
iv) operation and maintenance of facilities.
The transfer of the above elements in a package has reverted Nigeria from utilising local resources for some of them or developing new competence in other critical areas. Another constraint to telecommunications development in Nigeria is the inadequacy of science and technology infrastructure including S & T Manpower, S & T Information, engineering services, materials, instruments and apparatus for training scientists and technologists in telecommunications. Limited dissemination and utilization of research results in telecommunications practice in Nigeria has also been identified as a definite constraint to telecommunication development. Results of research in engineering, electronics and solid state physics in the Universities and Research Institutes are not being fully utilised to develop local capability in telecommunication services and in maintenance, adaptation and integration of new equipment with existing ones.
Another major constraint was once identified as obsolete switching and transmission equipment. Many of the existing exchanges and cable network are obsolete and therefore liable to frequent breakdowns. The demands on maintenance have been more tasking due to the technical limitations inherent in the design and difficulties in obtaining the spares of the equipment which are no longer in production. Also, another factor that militated against telecommunications development is lack of co-ordination and proper planning in projects implementation. Poor studies on project scope and costs resulted in implementation of projects of doubtful economic viability, in some cases, which were later abandoned midstream involving huge economic losses.
The problem of maintenance and operation of telecommunications services was later aggravated by the proliferation of technologies and the lack of technical standards. Not less than five types of automatic switching equipment are currently in use in the country. Even within the same city, several types of switching equipment have been installed. This presents problems in respects of spare parts for maintenance. Standardisation of network equipment in Nigeria has therefore not yet been totally achieved and this imposes additional strains by creating inflexibility in the use of manpower and spare parts.
2.0 TELECOMMUNICATIONS NEEDS, PROBLEMS AND CONSTRAINTS
The long term goal of a telecommunication enterprise is not only to be self-financing but also to generate a reasonable return on investment. To achieve this goal, there must be careful consideration of the sources of investment and the conditions that are attached to them. Its long term interests should always be kept in mind in the choice of sources of capital which ideally should be diverse and a combination of different sources.
It is generally believed that the telecommunication enterprise should have a pricing and tariff policy that is consistent with national objectives set by the government and the cost of providing the services. It is only normal that returns from some partS of the network should subsidise shortfalls that may occur in other parts of the network, such as in the case of rural areas. This norm has always been observed in Nigeria. In addition, mechanisms are essential for identifying the need for investment projects, for evaluating them, for predicting accurately what they will cost and for determining priorities for their execution. Happily enough, the procurement procedures often embarked upon in Nigeria secure an optimum balance between low initial cost, reliability and running cost like maintenance and power.
2.1. THE STATE OF THE TELECOMMUNICATIONS INFRASTRUCTURE IN
2.1.1 Research and Development
Since Nigeria's independence on October 1, 1960, up till 1995, only four national development plans were executed under the Ministry of Communications supervision, and these plans provided about 400,000 installed direct exchange lines (DEL). In 1992, barely seven years after NITEL (Plc) was established, new technologies - electro-magnetic digital, satellite fibre optic, INMARSAT, Integrated Services Digital Network (ISDN) -were introduced into the national networks. Up till 1989, all the exchanges and transmission facilities were of analogue system. Nitel has now successfully introduced the digital system into the network with a total of over 160,000 digital lines since this operation started a couple of years ago. Apart from providing a number of improved telecommunication facilities to the populace, Nigerian Telecommunications (NITEL) Plc, has been recently identified as housing the most suitable computer communications for the use of the South Investment Trade and Technology Exchange Centre (SITTDEC), a collaboration of the G15 countries working to facilitate South-South co-operation with its headquarters in Kuala-Lumpur, Malaysia. The Centre's mission is principally to foster and promote investments, trade and technology in the South countries by providing relevant, authoritative and accessible information to governments, organisations, corporations and individuals in the south countries.
The network capacity of NITEL's 450,516 lines in 1991 was increased to 600,000 at the end of 1992 and to about 1,000,000 at the end of 1995 and it has continued to grow since.
One of the NITEL's most significant achievements between 1990 and 1993 was that up to 60% of the total of about N12 billion invested in the provision of the digital exchanges, transmission links, gateways, and cellular telephone system, was from the company's internally generated revenue. The first time that NITEL's services were going wire-less was when the mobile cellular telephone system services were introduced. The cellular systems introduction into Nigeria was the first of its kind in Africa, South of the Sahara. Across the country today, about a quarter of the total number of telephone lines is of the digital system. NITEL's Research and Development (R & D) which was put in place in 1992 to develop and improve system components to suit the environment and put NITEL in the fore-front of information technology, has continued to assist NITEL forge ahead in its operations. In line with this development, a joint venture agreement to provide data communications services known as DATANET was negotiated with SATCOM. In 1992, a Rural Telecommunications programme which it intended to sustain as part of its contribution to overall national economic growth was also introduced.
More importantly, research and development in NITEL has ben strategically designed to identify and develop solutions to technical problems as the launching pad for technological self-reliance and the introduction of new services. The shift of its R&D efforts from purely theoretical to applied research has now enabled NITEL to design and fabricate systems that are tailored to Nigeria's environmental conditions. Collaborative arrangements were also made with Universities and other Research Institutions. These collaborative efforts led to the design, development and fabrication of devices and systems on up-to-date technology by NITEL, one of which is the Cable Theft Alarm Device.
During the first quarter of 1993, the voice mail, the paging system, trunked radio, and phone card were introduced by NITEL. 15,000 voice mail lines, 100,000 pagers and trunked radio were provided. The voice mail can be accessed from anywhere in Nigeria or other countries throughout the world by using the cellular telephone or touch-tone telephone. For now, there are three kinds of pagers available and only Lagos and Abuja are within the coverage areas of paging services. This means that messages can be sent to or from anywhere in the world within these areas. Some of the advantages of a pager include the freedom of users to go anywhere within the coverage area and be reached, i.e. a pager
subscriber in Lagos and Abuja can receive messages from anywhere in the world at any time.
The Integrated Services Digital Network (ISDN) is another technological feat which made it possible to employ a range of services via one telephone line. The services included were electronic mail, video telephone [tele-conferencing], telefax, etc. NITEL Research and Development [R & D] efforts also supported the evolution of a maintenance philosophy which enabled NITEL to do away with the services of contractors in system maintenance. For instance, NITEL staff designed and fabricated loop converter modules, which used to be imported at higher costs, to meet the demand for private networks based on leased and Special circuits. The cellular is also being used by NITEL to provide celluphone
telecommunications services to some local government areas in support of Federal Government efforts towards rural development.
2.1.2 NETWORK EXPANSION BY NITEL
The network expansion which NITEL embarked upon recently was to add about 510,000 direct exchange lines between 1993 and 1996. This represented more than 100% increase in the network capacity within 4 years. To ensure that all local government headquarters in the country without telecommunication services are provided with services, for a start, a number of local government councils in parts of the nation are now being linked with celluphone by NITEL. The project called National Telecommunication Improvement Project (NTIP) was to provide additional 74,000 lines. The Nigerian Telecommunications engineers and technicians have alsoenhanced adaptation of a number of equipment such as the old Pentomat T600 equipment.This has contributed positively to the increase in revenue generated and also enhanced the performance of this and other equipment.
Prior to May 1992, Nigeria's telephone services were restricted to conventional telephone and telex/telegram. With the NITEL now a fully commercialized autonomous company, there is now a tremendous restructuring of the telecommunications industry in the country and management rationalization for accelerated telecommunications.
Now, management of telecommunications development in Nigeria is organised at three hierarchical levels, namely:
Regulations (by Nigerian Communications Commission established by Decree No. 75 of December 31st, 1992) and
Carriers/operators by Nitel Plc.
NITEL currently provides a variety of other services which include the following:
Private Leased Telephone and Telex Services
Leased Telephone and Telegraph Services
Alternate Voice Data (AVD) Circuit
Data Switching System
Electronic Mail (National Service Only)
X.40 Electronic Messages
However, despite the above significant achievements, many users have always experienced some difficulties with NITEL's facilities.
In essence, the following areas of application have further been identified in the telecommunication system in Nigeria.
Telegraph and Telex
Television and phototelegraphic transmission.
The technologies involved in the operation of the services outlined above are hereby discussed under two major systems: Terrestrial and Satellite.
For terrestrial communication, the technologies involved include Wire-on-Pole, Co-axial Cable and Point to Point Microwave. The Wire-on-Pole system has been found to be very inadequate in meeting telecommunication needs of the country. Worse still, unscrupulous elements in the society sometimes disconnect the wire, for conversion to copper, which is of high market value. This system is also subjected to and destroyed by severe weather conditions. e.g. heavy rainfall or windstorm or occasionally during bush burning and felling of trees.
The co-axial cable system was used for the purpose of linking the South to the North of the country. During the rainy season the cables usually get soaked and performance level fell to less than 30 per cent. It was therefore discarded because of this inadequacy. Nigeria is now concentrating on the microwave link. The greatest disadvantage of this technology, however, is that it requires so many links because of the earth's curvature. Therefore, it requires so many repeater stations which are located in the bush usually in isolated areas and with isolated power generating units. These are very expensive and are also exposed to damage, thereby increasing the cost due to frequent changes.
3.0. TYPES OF DATA COMMUNICATION FACILITIES AT NITEL AND IN SOME NCC REGISTERED ORGANISATIONS
At the National Communications Commission (NCC), it was observed that, as of 1993, just about forty (40) private telecommunications operators were licensed by the Commission. However, because of the awareness of the use of telecommunications for development, more than 250 companies have now been licensed as at the end of December 1995 while not less than 1000 prospective applicants have collected application forms at 1,000.00 (One thousand naira) each, waiting to be licensed to carry out one telecommunication activity or the other.
The activities for which these private companies are applying, are grouped under:
1. Sale and installation of high calibre terminal equipment such as Satellites, High Frequency (HF) Radio facilities.
2. Operation of Payphones
3. Sale and installation of Mobile Communication such as:
c. Voice mail, etc
4. Provision of Community Telecommunications' with
5. Provision of Value-Added Network Services
6. Repair and Maintenance of Telecommunications Facilities.
From the above general operations, the following specific services were identified as currently being offered by the Nigerian Telecommunications (NITEL) PLC and some agencies providing similar services: These services include:
i) Telephone Services
* Telephone with IDD
* Public Payphone
* Call Office and Public Counter Services
* Operator Assistance
* Operator Information Services
ii) Telex Services
* Internal Telex
* International Telex
* Telex Delivery Services (TDS)
* Gentex Service
iii) Telegraph Services
* Telegraph (Internal)
* International Telegraph
* Registered Telegraph Address (RTA)
iv) Specialised Services
* Leased Circuits
* Private Wire
* Alternate Voice Data Circuits
* Private/Limited Networks
* Transmission and Reception of Real Time Television for Network Programmes
v) Value-Added Services
* Cellular Mobile Telephone
* Voice Mail
* Trunked Radio
vi) Other Services
* Voice Cast and Press Reception
* NIFAX Service
* Television Standard Conversion
* International Mobile Satellite Communication (INMARSAT)
* Telecommunications Training Facilities
* Compatibility Tests
vii) Data switching System (New Services)
* Electronic Mail (National Service Only)
* Press Reception and Broadcast
* Word/Data Processing
* X.25 Switch
* X.40 Electronic Messages
* Air traffic Sub-system
* International and Local Card Payphone
* International Transit
* Cable Theft Security Devices
* Digital PABX
* Manhole Water Detector
* TV Antenna
With the above being the specific telecommunication activities, the next step discusses the media for the operation of the services. Thes services are usually carried out through:
Radio (HF or VHF)
The country started embracing Digital Technology since the 1980s with the introduction of Digital Switches and Transmission Systems (Radio and Optic fibre) into the telecommunications network. Since the beginning of the 90s, Mobile Telephone Services (Cellular), Paging and Electronic Mail have been part of the services offered by NITEL which, hitherto enjoyed the monopoly of Telecommunications services provisions, operations and maintenance until 1992, when a decree establishing the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), liberalised terminal ends equipment and value added services for competition and private sector participation.
In order to carry out the above services the following facilities currently exist in the country:
* INTELSAT leased global transborder channels.
* INMARSAT Satellite Access.
* 34 Kbps NITEL wide and digital microwave
Lagos - Ijebu-Ode - Benin - Abuja
Lagos - Ijebu-Ode - Benin - Onitsha - Enugu
* 140 Kbps broad band NNPC optical cable and digital microwave
Lagos - Benin - Warri
Lagos - Benin - Lokoja - Kaduna
* Extensive NITEL Analogue nationwide circuits. (See Figures 1 and 2)
Listed below are the various media through which some of the telecommunications facilities are delivered to the populace in the country. These include those services that are provided by NITEL as well as those that are commercially available on a large scale basis. They include:
1. Very Small Aperture Terminal (VSAT) Services
VSAT is a technology which enables the extension of domestic networks across a large national land mass as well as across national frontiers. VSAT systems integrate transmission and switching functions to implement pre-assigned and on-demand assigned links for point-to-point and broadcast networks.
The Very Small Aperture Terminal (VSAT) services were found to be widely used as alternatives to leased lines and other terrestrial value added services such as X.25/packet switching at significantly lower prices in some organisations in Nigeria. Hosts and terminals are connected directly to the VSAT equipment (earth station) making the need for a satellite central office unnecessary. In contrast to terrestrial trunks, addition of bandwidth is effected easily by the service provider. It can support relatively high bandwidth of 2mbps. VSAT can be configured for broadcast (one-way) or interactive (two-way) data communications.
VSAT services have been found to suffer from long network delays caused by the up and down links through the atmosphere and space. The delay is of the order of 250 microseconds compared with 15 microseconds for a typical terrestrial networks. However, VSAT has been proved to have a higher error rate than fibre optics.
2. Private Wire
Private wire is a dedicated point-to-point circuit which could be provided over cable or radio link system. This is being provided to customers for private and exclusive use. Private Wire facilities, also called local exchange are dedicated lines or local exchange area leased circuits. It is being provided on Analogue (up to 9.6 kbts) or Digital (up to 64 kbts) speed lines. They are in Two categories:
a. Private Wire (Full Time)
b. Private Wire (Part Time)
3. Temporary Exchange Lines
These are voice grade circuits provided to serve at exhibitions and special events on temporary basis.
4. Domestic Leased Circuit
These are dedicated (Leased) circuits within Nigeria. The circuits could be provided on point-to-point or point-to-multi-point as may be required by the customer. Below is a summary of the currently available infrastructure in all the NITEL installations in the country. Table 1 illustrates those infrastructures that are currently available in some states and zonal headquarters of NITEL.
Table 1: NITEL FACILITIES AT THE ZONAL OFFICES AND IN SOME STATES
STATES EXCHANGE TYPE REMARKS Abuja FWSD (Siemens) Federal Capital Akwa Ibom Analogue (PC 1000C) Anambra Analogue (PC1000C) East Central HQ of NITEL Bauchi Digital (EWSD) Analogue (NC23OL) North Eastern HQ of NITEL Benue Analogue PC 1000C Borno Digital IEWSD), analogue (PC 1000C) Cross River Analogue (ARF10.Ericsson) Edo Digital (ITT system 12) Imo Analogue (AXE10, Ericsson) Kaduna Digital (Axe 10 Ericsson) analogue (NEC ITSC with Ericsson-Earth 230L) Station. North Western zonal HQ of NITEL Kano Digital (EWSD) Kwara Digital (ITT System 12) Lagos Analogue (ESK 10,000E) at Amuwo Lagos Zonal HQ of NITELNiger Ondo Analogue/Digital Osun Analogue (PC 1000C) Oyo Digital (ITT System 12) South-Western HQ of NITEL Plateau Digital (AxE-10 Ericsson), analogue Rivers Digital (linea UI)Sokoto Analogue (PC1000c)
4.0 THE INFOSTRUCTURE FOR INFORMATION/TELECOMMUNICATION DEVELOPMENT
4.1 Research and Development
There are presently more than 24 Research Institutes in the country. By the nature of their organisation and mandates they play a leading role in the development of raw materials and production methods for industrialisation. Most of them attract experienced scientists, technicians and engineers to carry out the tasks of their respective institutes. A good number of these Research Institutes are also bracing up to those new challenges in local sourcing of raw materials and effecting technological innovations. In addition to the Research Institutes, government parastatals like NITEL, NIPOST, NTA, Railways have also established R & D laboratories and industries for design, fabrication and local production of equipment and spare-parts.
The private sector has, until recently, not been forthcoming with technological development in the country. Multinational subsidiaries operating in Nigeria rely more on their parent companies or their associates for R & D instead of developing their own independent facilities locally. While it is accepted that no parent company would give up her immediate advantages by exposing her core technology to her subsidiary in a developing nation for fear of the loss of license fees, loss of a market for spare parts, components and other machinery, this attitude of multinational companies has however slightly changed, especially with privatisation and commercialisation of information and telecommunication operations. Both multinationals and indigenous entrepreneurs have now been encouraged, more than ever before, to set up R & D units in their organisations.
Finance is a major factor in achieving any measure of success in science and technology development. The funds allocated by a country for science and technology activities constitute an investment of a special kind. Since the key to national development lies in the effective use of technology for development, it follows that such an investment is vital for the future of the nation.
At present, Government sponsors almost all research activities in the country. There has not been any significant break-throughs over the years and this has been attributable to three factors, namely:
i) Multi-national companies who, although appreciate the role research and development can play in increasing profits in their industries, nevertheless are fully committed to carrying out their inevitable research and development activities in their parent companies outside the country;
ii) Indigenous entrepreneurs in the manufacturing sector who are unwilling to invest in research and development locally, preferring to buy packaged technologies which are the outcome of foreign research and development activities; and
iii) Service organisations, public and private, who lack the appreciation of the role of science and technology in their operation.
In order to ensure an increase in the general level of funding of science and technology development activities and its stability, government has decided that science and technology development activities in the country shall be financed through a funding system involving the Federal Government and its parastatals, the State Government and the Private Sector. In this connection, a National Science and Technology Fund (NSTF) was established to which both government, industries and philanthropic bodies contribute. In addition, government makes effective use of bilateral and international schemes for the procurement of funds from outside for science and technology development activities.
For meaningful technology development, the country's policy is being planned to:
i) have an assured raw materials base;
ii) have a strong manpower base;
iii) have adequate facilities for R & D;
iv) develop capabilities for innovations; and
v) develop production methods.
Furthermore, the need for closer linkage between centres of higher education and research on one hand and industry on the other is now being emphasized more than ever before. Also private entrepreneur are being encouraged to utilise the research findings from the country's University and research institutes for commercial production. In the past, private sector had complained of the non-relevance of the work of these research institutions to their needs. To foster close collaboration and liaison between these groups, the Ministry of Science and Technology has recently set up a Consultative Committee on Industrial Research and Development made up of representative from the Universities, Research Institutes, organised private sectors, the National Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture (NACCIMA), the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), etc. and relevant government departments. Through this forum, strategies are being worked out for the commercial utilisation of research findings emanating from the various Research Institutions in the country.
For example, a lot of simple circuits that are currently being used by the Ministry of Communications are being adapted or developed by local institutions as has been done in most countries. All that is needed is to identify systems and set target dates by which Nigerian made units will be used in these systems. The institutions are then invited to meet these targets. This has served as a challenge that these institutions of higher learning are now bracing up to. If this line of approach continues to be followed, in a few years, a number of systems will be developed locally and in some cases improved versions will be produced. This has been done by other countries such as India, Japan, Brazil, Taiwan, South Korea, etc., in recent years and Nigeria has just started to embrace this culture. There has never been a better opportunity than now that foreign exchange for purchase of systems abroad is scarce.
In this respect, it is pertinent to mention that in the Department of Electrical Engineering of the University of Lagos, this effort has been started. In the university, some equipment designed and constructed locally are being used for some of the undergraduate laboratory experiments. Some of these equipments start as final year projects and have been developed and in some cases improved upon. Further attempts are also being made in designing and extending the range of other equipment in the laboratories. This is necessary in these days of dwindling subventions from government.
Most of the institutions of higher learning in the country have facilities for research and development in the areas of electronics and communications engineering and indeed in many other areas of engineering. In addition there are, in these institutions, competent and resourceful personnel that can undertake researches in these areas and their abilities are being utilized in developing systems that can be used in the country so as to reduce expenditure on foreign consultants, experts or researchers. This has helped to conserve our foreign exchange in these days of dwindling external earnings.
4.2 OVERALL LEVEL COMPUTER LITERACY AND COMPUTER UTILIZATION IN NIGERIA
Despite the fact that there are presently many computer installations in Nigeria, the awareness of the potentials of these computers and their relevance to our national development and well-being is just emerging.
The nation's response to the growing data processing needs, as contained in the National Development Policy Plans have continued to witness the importation and sale of many computer hardwares and softwares to clients. Presently, it has been observed that:
1. There are now well over 400 Computer Science Programmee and 1000 others from faculties like Engineering and Physical Sciences that require offerings in Computer Science up to 200 or 300 levels, as against about
150 students in a typical Computer Science Department in 1975, In addition, because of the recently implemented National Universities Commission (NUC) minimum standards, every university student must now take computer science courses at the 100 level at least. - (Though not much has been done to improve facilities in the Computer Centres). Our Computer Science graduates will continue to emerge from the universities with their heads full of theories but absolutely lacking inpractical experience.
2. It is estimated that there are about 6000 secondary schools in Nigeria. If
each school were to have TWO computer science teachers to cover courses at the senior classes, one would need 12,000 qualified computer science teachers to man the schools.
3. Due to the strong job market for degree holders in Computer Science, fewer graduates continue with postgraduate studies in Computer Science.
4 To fill in the gaps requires continuing education which now abounds
in every part of the country.
5. Because Nigeria operates a free market economy, there is practically no
control on the in-flow of computer hardware and software into the market.
6. With no regulations or any framework of control or standardization in force,
there is now diverse makes of computers most of which have started to end up as heaps of faulty electronic gadgets in the few maintenance workshops available.
4.2.1 Computer Education in Secondary Schools
As a means of advancing information technology applications in the country, pilot activities embarked upon by a number of State governments towards the introduction of informatics to the school curriculum, have now metamophorsed into full implementation in increased number of schools. Most states started with a pilot project of 4, 6 or 8 selected secondary schools within the state and by late 1995 these state governments have extended the facilities to at least one secondary school in each Local Government Area (LGA). There are presently 589 Local Government Areas in Nigeria and about 6,000 secondary schools. To execute the programme, a number of teachers were trained for a couple of weeks either by a computer company or the Polytechnic, depending on the cost considered reasonable by the government and in the case of the Federal Government Colleges, by the National Teachers Institute (NTI). These teachers had already started to return to implement the introduction of informatics to the educational curriculum of schools.
Furthermore because of the present educational policies at the Federal, State and Local Government levels, the country operates an extensive network of primary schools, secondary schools and higher educational institutions. There are presently 18.7 million students enrolled in over 39.7 thousand institutions of various levels and types. Of the 18.7 million students in schools, less than 2 million have access to formal computer activities except in a very few private primary and secondary schools (about 1% of total number of schools) which are elitist in their set-ups and charge fees ranging from N20,000 to N250,000 per annum compared with an average of N500 per annum charged in public schools. In addition to a large number of primary and secondary institutions in the country, there are now 37 universities - 25 Federal and 12 state universities. No private university yet but plans are under way to encourage individuals, corporate bodies, religious institutions etc. to establish private universities.
For the past 5 years, the applications of information technology activities especially those relating to education and training, have been rising significantly amongst youths and other individuals due to a number of factors, namely:
1. Since 1978/79 till the present academic year, the existing universities have been able to admit an average of 15% of qualified applicants into the institutions, leaving about 85% qualified applicants unable to be admitted. This has led to this large number enrolling in private computer schools all over the country for short-time courses ranging from one week to one year.
2. There are more than 120 Commercial and Merchant Banks, 256 Mortgage banks and a number of Finance Houses in the country today which lay emphasis on the applications of information trchnology for their day to day operations. Because of the lucrative payment incentives in these finance houses, most prospective applicants strive to acquire certificates (formal or informal) in computer training with the hope of being attracted by the Finance Houses.
3. Because of the liberalisation of the economy since the introduction of the Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP) in 1986, many hitherto public companies have now been privatised and in order to maximize production vis-a-vis profits, a number of them have now imbibed computerisation into their operations. Computer literacy has now become aprerequisite for appointment into most cadres of these companies.
4. Before 1988, offerings in computer science were envisaged strictly for the tertiary level of education. Only the universities, polytechnics and Colleges of Education/Technology were expected to teach courses in computer science and produce graduates in that discipline.
5. The resultant effects of the above state of affairs as claimed by Uche, were:
(i) Very few Nigerians had access to tertiary education and only a negligible percentage of this number were admitted into Departments of Computer Science. Thus, only very few Nigerians were trained in computer technology.
(ii) Societal demand for computer literate Nigerians far outstripped the level of production of this cadre of manpower.
In an attempt to solve all the above mentioned problems, the Federal Government of Nigeria decided to formulate a Computer Policy which will not only address the need for more awareness but also ensure that sound basis for computer education and utilization is laid.
As the experience in several countries that had introduced computer literacy programmes shows, the most appropriate place to start computer awareness programmes is at the school level and the most appropriate level within the education system is the secondary school level. Therefore the decision in 1988 of Government to start its pilot programme in the Federal Government Colleges was in keeping with what had proved successful for other countries and in line with the recommendations of the committee on National Policy for Computer Education in Nigeria.
The Committee which consisted of eminent scholars and professionals in informatics was mandated, amongst others, to
(i) advise Government on the types and levels of education that will contain offerings of Computer Education courses;
(ii) determine the curricular contents and procedures best suited to the needs of this country for the various levels of education, including general computer literary at the tertiary levels;
(iii) Consider and advise on the ways and means of ensuring a smooth transition of computer courses between and among the various types and levels of education.
In carrying out its assignment the Committee noted that the major objective of introducing computer literacy and eduction at the secondary school level is to enable them acquire a level of knowledge about computers which would fit them directly into the employment market or enable them to pursue courses in computer science at higher levels. The Committee outlined the following as the general Informatics Policy Objectives for the nation:
(a) to bring about a Computer Literate Society in Nigeria by the middle of the 90's.
(b) to enable the present generation of school children at this level appreciate the potentials of the computer and be able to utilise the computer in various aspects of life and later occupation.
The first of these general objectives was interpreted by the Committee to imply that the Government would like to see a policy which would not only cater for those involved in the education enterprise, but also for the general populace. The intent of government appears to centre around the need to ensure that everyone appreciates -
- the impact of information and computer technology on today's society;
- the importance of the effective use of information to the individual and the society;
- the techniques by which information is processed, managed, and communicated; and
- the role of computers in information management.
The second general objective directly addresses students who for the first time in the history of the country would benefit from the computer education programme and who will therefore be the flag-bearers in the nation's determination to join the current world-wide computer revolution. This general statement has thus been expanded to comprise the following educational objectives:
- ability to use and program computers.
- knowledge and ability to use and develop software packages.
- understanding of the structure and operation of the computer.
- knowledge about the history of computers.
- appreciation of the economic, social and psychological impact of the computer.
- the use of the computer in problem-solving.
The above objectives provide a basis for the committees' recommendation of the following main curricular content items for the secondary school level:-
- rudimentary knowledge about information systems, information processing techniques and the role of the computer in this regard;
- exposure to the historical overview and the development of modern-day computer and its basic components;
- knowledge about the uses to which computers are put in everyday life;
- a basic appreciation of how a computer works.
- an understanding of the basic principles of operating a computer,
- hands-on experiences using pre-programmed packages which are relevant to the interests of the students as teaching aids in different subjects.
- an introduction to the concept of different computer languages, and their applications.
- appreciation of problem-solving methods and techniques as they apply to the computer, program design, coding and documentation.
On the need for a smooth transition between types and levels of education, the committee recommended that although primary schools will use lower-end computers and the secondary schools a more sophisticated one, there is not going to be much difference between the general approach to the teaching of computer lessons at these two levels. Similarly, the curriculum will enable secondary school students to cope with the university studies in computer science. According to the committee, the concept of computer education and literacy presents challenges which have not been faced before by the teachers. The Committee noted that for the first time both the teacher and the learner will be at virtually the same level of knowledge (or lack of it!).
A training package was therefore recommended by the committee for the teacher.
The objectives of such training are to:
- build confidence in the handling of computer hardware and software.
- encourage the teacher to develop a "sense" of rapport with the computer and appreciate its potential for resolving teaching and learning challenges.
- take account of and familiarise the teachers with the dynamic nature of computer technology, thus stressing the necessity for continuous upgrading of his knowledge.
- manage small computer laboratories and workshops.
- appreciate importance of documentation procedures and softwares maintenance.
The Committee on National Policy for Computer Education in Nigeria was also mandated to define, as clearly as possible, the roles of Federal and State governments and relevant institutions, particularly the universities, polytechnics, research institutes and some of the parastatals in the attainment of the objectives of Computer Education.
The major merit of the National Policy on Computer Education, therefore, is that it recommends the introduction/incorporation of computer studies at all levels lower than the universities and Polytechnics. As a matter of fact, the committee recommended a total lifting of restrictions on computer education in a way that computer literacy programmes can begin right from the primary school. According to the Committee, computers should be introduced at any level provided the necessary facilities and resources exist.
A good computer education programme should therefore aim not only at teaching Nigerians how to use the computer effectively for national development but also at preparing them to master computer technology with a view to ensuring the maintenance, and eventually the production of computers.
4.2.2 INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY PROGRAMME AT THE TERTIARY LEVEL
Since 1962 when the National Univesities Commission (NUC) was set up following the recommendation of Ashby Commission, the NUC has been supervising and co-ordinating the activities of all the universities in Nigeria. The Commission has played a major role in the success of the Computer Literacy Programme in the universities.
It has provided guidelines relating to the minimum hardware and software environment for the Universities to enable them effectively pursue the computer literacy programme. Additionally, the Commission has been supporting the development of curricula and programmes in the universities especially the new degree programmes in computer science and engineering covering the Bachelors, Masters and Doctorate degrees.
The computer literacy programmes at the university level have over the years been directed at:
- establishing and entrenching a computer culture that permeates all activities in the University;
- producing university graduates who are considered computer literates irrespective of their course of studies or major disciplines;
- producing Computer Science and Engineering graduates who constitute the core of professionals in the practice and advancement of Computer Technology;
- conducting research and developing hardware, firmware, software, and course-ware that will enable the country to attain the latest Computer Technology capability; and
- ensuring the provision of the manpower and other resources required to meet the broader objectives of computer literacy at the tertiary, secondary and primary levels of education, and at the societal level.
4.2.3 Polytechnic and Colleges of Education Level
Apart from the NUC there is also the National Board for Technical Education (NBTE) which has statutory responsibility for ensuring standards of Education in Polytechnics and Technical Colleges, and also in co-ordinating the development, management and funding of Federal Polytechnics and Federal Technical Colleges. Within this general framework, the NBTE has had the following specific roles to play in the introduction of Computer Education in the institutions under its jurisdiction;
- integrating the curriculum for computer literacy at the secondary and tertiary levels, into the programmes of Polytechnics and Technical Colleges nation-wide.
overseeing the development of Computer Education programmes at the Colleges of Education and Polytechnics.
- monitoring the polytechnics and Federal Colleges of Education (Technical) to ensure that they have incorporated tertiary level computer literacy into their general studies programmes, and that they have acquired adequate facilities for this.
- accrediting Computer Studies' programmes at Technical Colleges level.
- developing syllabus for a Higher National Diploma (HND) option in Computer Science and Technology immediately for adoption by Polytechnics, and encourage the programme in Polytechnics.
- reviewing the Polytechnics' Computer Science and Technology programmes periodically.
- promoting and funding adaptive research in the polytechnics for the design, and development of computer hardware, software and firmware, power systems, thin-film technology and printed circuit boards.
- integrating the Management Information System scheme into its Computer Education programme.
- upgrading its in-house Computer capability to a level adequate to the demands of its statutory tasks.
Under the guidance of NBTE, the Polytechnics in Nigeria have been
performing a number of informatics role in the country. Such
- training of technicians and technologists for hardware maintenance, adaptive designs and development.
- training of technicians for software design and development.
- establishing, designing, developing and producing hardware, software and firmware.
- development of thin-film technology application particularly in printed circuit board design and production.
- mounting of courses for technicians and technologists for the various levels of personnel from industry and the community at large.
4.2.4 ESTABLISHMENT OF MIS IN NIGERIAN UNIVERSITIES
Management Information System (MIS) was formally introduced into Nigerian Universities Management systems in 1990 under the auspices of the National Universities Commission (NUC) to deal
essentially with students, staff and financial records in the universities, and to provide periodic information reports for all Units within the Universities.
Training needs were identified as realistic ways of meeting the proposal. The areas identified as priorities include:
(i) Creating general awareness for MIS;
(ii) Computer appreciation;
(iii) Data collection and processing;
(iv) Data interpretation; and
(v) Computer operations
Each university was requested to set up an MIS Committee with
membership specified by the NUC. The first training assignment of the MIS committee was to organise training for Principal Officers in order to get them personally identified with the project and provide leadership and support. This was to be followed by training of other users in the Registry, Bursary, Library, Academic Planning etc. For the generality of staff and students, the MIS Committee was mandated to organise sensitisation and popularisation campaigns on MIS, its objectives and benefits.
In all the above, in-house training , using the facilities of the computer centres and/or the computer science department was to be encouraged.
In addition to the above courses, most of the universities, polytechnics and colleges of education operate short-time courses in Wordprocessing, Database Management, Spreadsheet and Statistical analyses leading to awards of in-house certificates and diplomas.At the international level but with the country, other Informatics activities include the establishment of:
1. Centre for Micro-Informatics Maintenance Department of Computer Technology, Yaba College of Technology, Yaba, Lagos, Nigeria.
This Centre was established by the International Governmental Informatics Programme of UNESCO with the main purpose of:
. Providing exposure and training in hardware maintenance
. understanding the modular layout and functional organization of units used in present day architecture
. understanding the use of state-of-the-art test equipment and software diagnostics aids in practical problems acquiring hands-on practical training through direct and inductive tuition.
It organises short-time and advance study internship in information technology and micro-informatics maintenance and training for participants within the West African sub-region.
2. The Centre for Informatics Research and Training was established at the Ogun State University to:
(i) facilitate active and meaningful research for development, using computers;
(ii) serve as a centre for short training programmes in the Africa Commonwealth region in the area of IT;
(iii) assist researchers in universities and research institutes as well as practitioners in R & D units of industry to use available resources in the Centre to solve problems and to meet and exchange ideas with professional colleagues and update their knowledge; and
(iv) act as a catalyst for initiating research and training programmes in IT which will eventually benefit the government as well as interested Commonwealth African countries.
3. The Africa Regional Centre for Information Science (ARCIS) started operating in November 1990 at the University of Ibadan. A number of international agencies played important roles in formulating its objectives, organizational structure and programmes. ARCIS addresses itself to African development problems that have demonstrable information services components, with a view to providing both short- and long-term solutions to them.
In pursuance of its objective, ARCIS is involved in the following activities:
1. running higher degree programmes in information science (MInfSc, MPhil, PhD);
2. providing short-term training and retraining, through seminars and workshops, at different levels of information services;
3. providing consultancy services in systems analysis, design and evaluation; database construction and management; information policy formulation and implementation; and solutions to operational problems in information technology; and
4. conducting research on the problems and prospects of information science in the rapid socio-economic development of Africa.
5.0. MANAGING TELECOMMUNICATIONS: REGULATORY AND POLICY ENVIRONMENT
It is generally accepted that an accessible telecommunications capability is a prerequisite for national economic growth and, therefore, investment in the telecommunications infrastructure is paramount in any society. Those countries that developed their telecommunications services in the private domain of the economy, notably the U.S.A, have demonstrated that communication is big business and highly profitable. High net worth customers are naturally attractive to the telecommunications entrepreneur, but on account of the social benefits of communication, which are central for interpersonal relations and society's integrity, society has to protect and provide for low density and less affluent users also. In Nigeria there have been at least four National Telecommunication Development Plans since 1960 in which efforts have been made to accord telecommunications some measure of priority at least in financial terms. However, objectives in one plan period were invariably unaccomplished during that period and hence have to spill-over to the next. In terms of achievements in relation to investment, results lagged behind expectations due to various reasons. Thus although telecommunication development in Nigeria has followed some pattern, its course was not in accordance with any definite telecommunications policy. It is in order to stem this tide that the present administration, like the previous ones, included among its policy objectives, the establishment of a national telecommunications policy for Nigeria.
5.2 Domestic Challenges
In 1992, the telecommunications industry in Nigeria received its own dosage of the deregulation elixir in two forms. The first was the commercialisation or corporatization of Nigerian Telecommunications (NITEL) while the second was the establishment of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), the telecommunications industry regulator.
The motivating forces driving the deregulation of telecommunications services in Nigeria include:
Private consumer and business demand for good quality telecommunications services at affordable prices and competitiveness;
Need for reduced time for telephone installation and service delivery;
Diversification and complexity of user needs;
Advances in technology;
Demand for improved business efficiency in the face of tight budgets.
Economic development and job creation;
The trend worldwide.
In the light of the above, the Nigerian Government's decision to deregulate the telecommunications industry has had positive and far-reaching implications which are expected to provide the needed leverage and act as a catalyst for various forms of business, economic, social and organisational developments.
The strategic implication of the above is that the core areas of public switches and trunks and international services have been reserved for the national operator, NITEL. This is to provide the necessary incentive and cross-subsidy for services to the rural communities and social services. That notwithstanding, and in order not to frustrate private sector participation, government, as a matter of policy, has maintained that the national career - NITEL is required to:
provide network access and interconnectivity to other licensed operators,
charge fair and competitive tariffs for such access and interconnectivity.
concentrate its efforts and resources on core infrastructure development, i.e. the provision of public switches and long distance trunk capacity.
In return, it was expected that NITEL will benefit from increased traffic to be generated through its network by private operators and through enhanced revenue generation and collection.
The regulatory body, the Nigerian Communications Commission was formally inaugurated on the 16th of July 1993.
5.2.1 The objectives of the Commission were:
to create a regulatory environment for the supply of telecommunications services, facilities and to promote fair competition and efficient market conduct;
to facilitate the entry into markets for telecommunications services and facilities of persons wishing to supply such services and facilities.
to ensure that licensees or authorised carries and other providers of telecommunications services and infrastructure meet their commercial obligations and such other obligations in a manner which promotes cooperation and fairness;
to protect licensees and the public from unfair conduct of other providers of telecommunications services, with regard to the quality of service and to the payment of tariffs;
to ensure that licensees achieve the highest possible level of accountability and responsiveness to customer and community needs;
to ensure that standard telephone services are supplied as efficiently and economically as possible and at such performance standards which reasonably meet the social, industrial, and commercial needs of the community.
to promote the development of other sectors of the Nigerian economy through the commercial supply of modern telecommunications services.
to establish technical standards and promote the development of Nigeria's telecommunications capabilities, industries and skills;
to ensure that the Nigerian public have growing access to telecommunications facilities; and
to optimise the use of telecommunications facilities in Nigeria with due consideration for the rights of the licensees and the public interest.
5.2.2 FUNCTIONS OF THE COMMISSION
The functions of the Commission are as follows:
the responsibility for economic and technical regulation of the privatised sector of the telecommunications industry;
to ensure the safety and quality of telecommunications services by determining technical standards and regulating technical execution and performance;
to manage Nigeria's input into the setting of international technical standards for telecommunications;
the responsibility for giving advice and assistance to the entire Nigerian telecommunications industry;
the responsibility for giving reports and assistance to the Ministry or Minister in relation to the telecommunications industry;
the promotion of competition in the telecommunications industry;
the protection of suppliers of telecommunications services or facilities from unfair practices of other telecommunications supplies which are damaging to competition.
to facilitate the entry into the market for such services and facilities by persons wishing to supply such services and facilities;
to undertake studies into space technology and manage the utilisation of satellite facilities for the benefit of Nigerian operators and users;
the protection of licensees from misuse of market power by other carriers;
the arbitration of disputes between licensees and other participants in the telecommunications industry;
to receive investigate complaints from licensees, carriers, consumers and other persons in the telecommunications industry;
to advise the Minister or Secretary on ways of promoting competition within the telecommunications industry.
the responsibility for the protection of public interest by ensuring that the provisions of the law are carried out with due regard to public interest;
the protection of consumers from unfair practices of licensees and other persons in the supply of telecommunications services and facilities;
to develop performance standards and indices relating to the quality of telephone and other telecommunications services and facilities supplied to consumers having regard to the best international performance indicators and Nigerian conditions;
to monitor and report to the Minister or Secretary on charges paid by consumers, the performance of licensees and other persons in meeting the standards specified by the Commission;
the issuance of telecommunications licenses;
to monitor the conduct of holders of the licenses and to enforce the conditions included in the licenses.
The benefits of the existence of the Nigerian Communication Commission derive from private sector participation and investment in the telecommunications Sector and the benefits both immediate and remote have started to manifest in greater efficiency, greater flexibility, and less stress in the way people organize their business, economic and social activities. The Nigerian economy is being stimulated and more wealth created resulting in the provision of incentives for the development of professionalism in telecommunications service delivery and for telecommunications professionals to participate more meaningfully and visibly in the Nigerian economic activities.
The last few years since NITEL was privatised, have witnessed far reaching changes in the Nigerian telecommunications sector. Changes that were unprecedented since 1886 when telecommunications was first introduced in Nigeria.
These changes accompanied the leaps of technological developments and changes in regulatory regimes of almost all countries in the world. In Nigeria these reforms include the formation of NITEL in 1985, the commercialisation of the company in 1992, the promulgation of the decree and subsequent establishment of the NCC in 1993.
In effect NITEL (PLC) has dedicated more resources into modernisation and expansion of the following facilities in the national network:-
International and Intercity trunk lines.
Primary and secondary switches.
Deployment of fibre optic technology in the trunk, junction and local line segments of the network:-
These improvements have enhanced economy of scale and enabled NITEL to achieve increased efficiency in resource management thereby creating a stable tariff structure that could now enable users of the facilities to plan their operations. Another outcome of the modernisation programme was the open network which allows new service providers to start services with relative ease. Invariably two grades of carriers have since emerged with Grade I carriers such as NITEL (PLC) owning transmission channels, and Grade II carriers renting these channels from NITEL (the Grade I carriers) to provide services to end-users. NITEL's R & D Department, on its own part, has continued to investigate the appropriate technologies that could accelerate the network transformation and enhance the activities of the two carriers.
A cursory overview of the deregulated Nigerian telecommunications sector has revealed that great opportunities abound for investors to come up with new products and services. The sheer size of the Nigerian population (100 Million) and the great strides being made in the economic field as well as the prospects of providing these services with the assured profitability characteristic of telecommunications investments are current factors that have instilled some confidence in the entrepreneur in the Nigerian telecommunications environment.
5.2.4 COPING WITH INTERCONNECTIVITY ISSUES AND COMPETITION IN TELECOMMUNICATIONS REGULATION.
Telecommunications, the art and science of information transmission and circulation earlier regarded as a minor component of infrastructure, became in the 1980s a strategic factor of development at all levels, from individual firms to regions and countries. It is the principal factor in National, Regional and International integration. By eliminating distance, telecommunications bring together all kinds of partners, saving time and resources, which are valuable factors in economic development and economic and social integration. Capitals and large cities around the world are linked by telecommunications and information networks covering almost all aspects of business, commerce, education, news, entertainment, etc.
Through telecommunications which is regarded as the medium which replaces the physical movement of people across distances. the world has become smaller than at any time in the past and it is even getting smaller and smaller for the benefit and enhancement of world peace. Indeed, communications, financial transactions and trade, as well as a large share of the manufacturing sector, could come to a virtual standstill without telecommunications.
Telecommunications is at the fore front of current economic and social affairs. The digitalization of networks globally has further destroyed the boundaries which separated them from the fields of electronics and computing. The resultant multiplication of tele-services and their increasing sophistication have exploded the technical and commercial limitations which previously existed. The evolution has been decisive and here in Nigeria, has followed from technical facts and not political will.
Today, the challenge of meeting the large and rising demand is being met by moving toward a sector structure that is plural and competitive, with a mix of service providers - private and public, using various technologies and offering services tailored to different user needs.
Propelled mainly by current technological advances, the telecommunications arena in Nigeria has started to undergo profound structural changes, giving rise to cheaper and more reliable telecommunications equipment and services on the one hand, and on the other, a whole new range of services. Public telecommunications is moving rapidly from protected national markets with huge cross-subsidies between certain services to global competitive markets. Public Telecommunications Operators (PTOs) are now responding to this liberalization challenge by becoming corporatized and in some cases also privatized. In order to respond to global competition, joint ventures and other forms of alliances are increasingly being established between the major PTOs and equipment manufacturers. New operators are also being established focusing in particular on telecommunications growth areas such as integrated telecommunications services for multinational companies, international telephony and mobile telephony.
6.0 STRUCTURAL BALANCE OF INFORMATION:COMMUNICATION ENGINEERING THROUGH POLICY (INFOSTRUCTURE)
For any development process, it is vital to have horizontal information channels that activate all sectors of the population and facilitate access to decision-making for otherwise excluded sectors.
An equally eloquent expression of the same point was made in the "Report on Means of Enabling Active Participation in the Communication Process and Analysis of the Right to Communicate", presented at the nineteenth Unesco General Conference at Nairobi in 1976. It reads:
In the past, the role of communication in society was seen essentially as to inform and influence people. It is now being proposed that communication should be understood as a process of social intercourse through a balanced exchange of information and experience... This shift in perception implies the predominance of dialogue over monologues. This aim is to achieve a system of horizontal communication based upon equitable distribution of resources and facilities enabling all persons to send as well as to receive messages.
This new perspective of the role of communication in society was indeed acknowledged and applauded by the participants at the Intergovernmental Conference on Communication Policies in Africa when they asserted that the people of the rural communities should no longer be regarded as mere listeners but rather as actual 'animators', creators of news and participants both in the process of producing information and in programmes for their society. In other words, the time is past when the masses of the people should only be communicated at. It is time to start thinking of communicating with them.
However, in spite of the above, the communication system of most Third World countries is heavily biased in favour of the urban elite. The urban elite monopolises the available information, which makes the information flow vertical, skewed, and not calculated to ensure participation of the majority of the population. There is, in other words, differential access to information which has resulted in apathy and the alienation of a very large proportion of the citizens of these countries. For authentic national development to take place, there is therefore the need to alter the pattern in favour of a system which stresses lateral, two-way communication.
7.0 TELECOMMUNICATIONS & INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY NEEDS AND PRIORITIES IN NIGERIA
7.1 An Analysis of the Problems of Telecommunication Development
Telegraph service was opened in Lagos on September 2nd, 1886. In spite of what appeared to be an early start, the development of telecommunication service in the country has been slow. Up until the 50's for example, government and large business concerns were the primary users of telephone services, they were probably the only users who could afford the service as the per capital gross national product was then rather low.
With the advent of the oil boom in the 70's, however, the economic situation changed and this was followed by a dramatic increase in demand for telephone service. As the installed telecommunication infrastructure could not cope with the rising demand, the quality of service began to deteriorate. To arrest the worsening situation, the Federal government took significant measures in the 3rd and 4th national development plans (1975-1985) by allocating a total of about 5.5 billion for the modernisation and expansion of public telecommunication service. These measures were designed to increase the number of installed telephone lines by more than ten-fold in the ten year period. However, as the world we live in is a world of innovations in different facets of life, the technological giant leaps of this last decade of the twentieth century call for new and innovative approaches to modern management methods in the telecommunication industry. There is no way the traditional monopolistic system of the telecommunication industry can survive the 21st century in view of the rapidly changing telecommunication environment. The way out is for all countries to accept that changes must of necessity come and therefore find ways of addressing pertinent issues at a convenient and reasonable pace, relative to each nation's condition, so that when it eventually comes, no nation will be caught unawares. The I.T.U's Telecom '95 Exhibitions with the Technology and Strategic Summits of the associated Forum series, clearly testified to this statement. At this forum, Information Technology which utilizes computers, telecommunications, video, reprographic and many micrographic equipment were put on display to offer diverse solutions to developing countries. This integration of data, voice and image, together with flexible communications networks, means that a variety of technology applications are now available.
It is essential, nonetheless, that Information Technology should be adequately managed. Nations are becoming aware of the need to manage information in the planned way that they manage other key resources. Information Technology must be well integrated into the overall management structure of a nation and we haven't achieved this yet in Nigeria. This will soon be achieved through the National Telecommunications Policy now being finalised.
In terms of computers and computer applications, the evolution of information Technology is very rapid. Hardware costs are falling (even here in Nigeria) and its power is increasing. User-friendly interfaces and new software are also bringing technology closer to end-users, significantly modifying the technical specialist role. For telecommunications, the application of wireless technology has also brought into focus faster and cheaper extension of service to the end user.
7.2 The Information and Communications Environment (Infrastructure and Infostructure).
That the Government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria attaches great importance to telecommunications industry in the country because of its potential in promoting the commercial, industrial, socio-economic as well as political development and unity of Nigeria cannot be overemphasized. In addition, the government fully supports the need to meet the customers and business demands for good quality telecommunications services, reduced time for telephone installation and service delivery, diversification and complexity of users needs, advances in technology, demand for improved business efficiency in the face of tight budgets, cost reductions and competitiveness as well as the trend world over.
Telecommunications has been described above as so vital to human existence: its very essence hinges on the basic fundamental rights of individuals, nonetheless there is a correlation between the state of a country's telecommunications infrastructure and its state of development, just as a relationship can be established between a country's gross domestic product and its relative position in an increasingly globalised economy and boarderless world.
At the current 0.66 telephone lines per 100 population, Nigeria's telecommunications industry can be said to be in the state of development. This is also evident in the quality of life of Nigerians and the nature of the business environment.
Given the capital intensive nature of the industry and the enormity of the shortfall in Nigeria there is no doubt that the development of telecommunications services in Nigeria is too heavy a burden to be borne by Government alone. Indeed many Government administrations are having to change their methods of operating, in response to declining resources and increasing demands for public services.
One evident outcome of the influence of the development in communication policy formulation in the Third World is the fact that for the past two decades governments in these countries have been forced, either by persuasion or pressure, to invest heavily in the acquisition of modern telecommunication facilities with the aim of modernising their mass communication institutions and enhancing their technical capacities to generate and disseminate information widely. As a result, the technological growth of the communication systems in the developing world in the past few decades has been so phenomenal that on comparative terms the "change has been rapid in the less developed countries and slow in the advanced countries". But this development in the technical capacities of Third World National communication system has been largely unplanned and, has been in utter neglect of some important dimensions of the communicative process. For example, the acquisition of more modern technical facilities for the modernisation of national communication systems in Third World countries has been undertaken without much consideration being given to the structural character of the society within which the institution has to operate and in relation to the desirable state of corporate existence shared by a broad segment of the citizenry and borne out of their historical and contemporary experiences.
7.3 Communication Institution Info-Structures
The institution of modern mass communication - newspapers, radio, television, magazine - in most of the developing Third World including Nigeria is, like the institutions of modern political, economic and socio-cultural formations in these places.
Although news media institutions all over the world have common functions of information, education and entertainment, their remarkable characteristics are never determined in vacuum but by the extent to which those common media activities are organised to serve as instruments for the development, refinement and propagation of specific ideologies or world views that distinguish one media nation from another.
The preceding discussions have led to certain general conclusions about what a national communication policy in the specific circumstances of Nigeria should incorporate. First, the issue of the fundamental philosophy of the social order within which the news media processes and the communication needs of the society and appropriate resources - human and technological - are organised, harnessed and systematised clearly in policies. The requirement of the news media is not simply to propagate such views of corporate existence, but to provide avenues for their greater articulation, refinement, assimilation and incorporation into the personal world views of the majority of the citizens. The world view to be advanced must not only be those that advance our vision of life but those that do not run counter to our ethical and moral notions of human existence, corporate relations and collective conscience. Second, the policy must be able to provide clear and articulate structures for the vivid expressions of these values. It makes little or no sense for policy to state, at the global philosophical level lofty human ideals and virtues only to fail at the concrete operational level to provide adequate organisational and infrastructural facilities to advance those ideas. At the level of our foreign relations, for instance, the organisation of our international communication outfits and their locations in the world should be able to articulate both in symbolic and substantive terms what human values we wish to advance, who we think shares those values and how if conditions were stacked in our favour we would like to order the world. Domestically, there is the need for policy to ensure that the channels for mass communication are neither concentrated in the hands of few powerful individuals nor aggregated in few cities to avoid conveying the impression of essentially important and not so important segments of the general population in the national life. Third, there is the need for policy to provide for regulatory mechanisms that will ensure that while the desired inherited tradition of freedom of expression and the press is upheld and furthered as a dominant feature of the social structure, it is not employed for the advancement or protection of those values that contradict the essential basis of the society.
Institutions are the basic organisational framework through which modern nations function. The notion and essence of nationhood which a people hold, the sentiments, emotions and judgements they express about their collective identity and collective aspirations, their vision of the future and their commitment to its realisation, as well as the fundamental human values that characterise their psychosocial behaviourial patterns, are usually embedded in, and articulated by the structure of their institutional arrangements and roles, designed to meet the needs of their community. In short, the values which are inherent in the structure of a society's institution-order, generally constitute the primary force for the ordering of symbols that facilitate communication among its various groups, as well as the underlying processes that characterise the dynamic aspects of their social interaction and productive activities. Concern for the fundamental values that underpin a society's institutional arrangement and roles, with fundamental values that underpin a society's institutional arrangement and roles, with particular sensitivity to their adequacy or otherwise to satisfy the basic human aspirations and needs of the people, at any point in their corporate development, is therefore an imperative consideration in the formulation of a proper national communication policy for the governance of modern states.
7.4 A FRAMEWORK FOR NATIONAL COMMUNICATION POLICY
There is no doubt that a standard national communication and information policy could produce a homogenisation of thought and serve as veritable instruments for the wholesome integration and participation of all segments of a plural society in the life of a nation, for the equitable distribution of the resources available for exchange of ideas and information among various groups and sectors of the society, for a balanced flow of messages within all points in the land and among its citizens, as well as for the deliberate deployment of collective resources in the service of all. What therefore is of crucial importance in the formulation of a national communication policy, is a clear conception of the kind of society a nation wants for itself.
In Nigeria, for example, an enlightened national communication policy must therefore dovetail to the fundamental objectives and directive principles of the state, as enshrined in Chapter II of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1979. This section provides, inter alia:
1. For the establishment of a state and government based on the principles of democracy and justice and the composition of organs of the state in a manner as to reflect the federal character of the nation -- i.e. recognising the diversity of the peoples of the Nigerian nation and the need to promote a sense of belonging and loyalty among all the people through appointments and distribution of resources for active participation in the life of the nation,
2. Establishing the necessary conditions for the promotion of national integration through the provision of adequate facilities for the encouragement of free mobility of people, goods and services, including ideas and thoughts, throughout the nation,
3. Fostering the feeling of belonging and involvement among the various peoples of the Federation in the life of the nation,
4. Promotion of planned and balanced economic development and ensuring that the economic system, including, of course, the means for the production of information and capacity to communicate, is not operated in such a manner as to permit the concentration of wealth or the means of production and exchange in the hands of a few individuals or of a group,
5. Ensuring equality of rights, obligations and opportunities before the law, as well as the independence and impartiality and integrity of courts of law,
6. Ensuring equal and adequate education, including public enlightenment, at all levels of state organisation,
7. Promotion of African Unity, as well as total political, economic, social and cultural liberation of Africa and combating racial discrimination in all its manifestations,
8. The protection and enhancement of authentic Nigerian culture, and
9. The fostering of the obligation of the press, to monitor governance in all its ramifications.
Nigeria, like some other nations in Africa, occupies such strategic position on the continent. An enlightened national communication policy for Nigeria, as well as for similarly located strategic countries in Africa, ought therefore to have the issues of regional solidarity, collective African self-affirmation and the defence of all Africa's interests in the world community as part of the core of its international communication goals.
The national communication policy, when enacted should therefore spell out in broad terms what the national objectives should be for the establishment and operation of radio and television broadcasting in the country. Below are some suggestions for consideration:
1. The provision of efficient broadcasting services to the entire people of the Federation of Nigeria, based on national objectives and aspirations. Specifically, radio broadcasting should satisfy the needs of external audiences in accordance with Nigeria's foreign policy.
2. The provision of a professional and comprehensive coverage of Nigerian culture in terms of promoting the cultural development and growth through constructive, result oriented research, and to publicise the results of such research works for the benefit of the people.
3. To ensure that the positive contribution of the media is geared towards the development of the Nigerian society and also towards the promotion of national unity and integration, by making sure that there is a balanced presentation of views from all parts of the country.
4. To ensure that there is regular delivery of accurate information to the people.
5. To provide a better opportunity for healthy discussion of important issues of national interest designed to enlighten and mobilize the public.
6. To provide a regular channel of communication between the Government and the people.
7. To promote research on various aspects of communication media and their effects on Nigerian society. Such research should embrace audience research, innovative methods of production and authentic indigenisation of broadcasting media. Furthermore, the research should determine, on a continuous basis, the criteria for the censorship of films and books, for the protection of our political, economic, social and cultural interests.
8. With regards to dissemination of information, the mandatory functions of the broadcast media should be the promotion of development objectives in such areas as health, economy, education, utilities, food production, infrastructural and industrial development.
9. Commercial broadcasting should reflect clearly defined national values, norms and other national interests that may not necessarily entail financial profit.
10. The broadcast media should be used as a formidable weapon for the mobilization of the people of the country for the overall good of the nation.
Policy on broadcasting also made provision for the establishment of a national communication regulatory body. The body is empowered to lay down rules, set up standards, enforce broadcasting codes, and make recommendations on matters relating to issuance and withdrawal of broadcasting licences to private broadcasting organisations. In this connection, the following objectives for the national regulatory body were planned to be found functional:
1. To guarantee on a permanent basis the loftiest ideals of excellence in broadcasting.
2. To provide regulatory jurisdiction for all broadcasting stations in the federation, in terms of national, state, privately-owned or commercial broadcasting stations.
3. To set moral and ethical standards for national and international broadcasting and to monitor and control such standards.
4. To promulgate a standard of programme service which would meet the tastes, needs and desires of all groups of the public.
5. To make broadcasting impartial.
6. To ensure the rationalisation of broadcasting activity and a co-ordination of broadcasting development.
7. To arrange for the location of transmitters as to ensure that all parts of the country can receive national programmes.
8. To undertake a continuous assessment of overall broadcasting requirements of the nation and the development of long-term coordination and rationalisation plans.
8.0 ON-GOING SUPPORTIVE TELECOMMUNICATIONS INITIATIVES
NITEL is now being configured for a joint-venture ownership of a number of privately-owned facilities. For example, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) optical fibre telecommunications network (Figure 2) is being considered for a joint-venture ownership by the NNPC and members of the Public with additional transmission links (radio and optical cable) to raise access for the international service.
Already, the NNPC optical fibre network has offered a stiff competition to NITEL in the provision of high-speed leased lines and digital telephone service on certain routes while the cellular telephone network has offered a stiff competition to NITEL's domestic telephone service.
The opportunities for the early growth of VSAT (Very Small Aperture Terminals) in satellite communications via the NCC-controlled space segments, is another factor which, when fully operational, will accelerate the development of Domestic Operators and User Networks in Nigeria. VSAT is fully deregulated in Australia, Japan and the US, and is also been gradually deregulated here in Nigeria.
When deciding policies on technical development of telecommunications, one must take into consideration such parameters as Population, Economy of the Nation and National Target.
The present aspiration of the Nigerian Telecommunications authority is to attain the telephone density of 1 to 100 as defined in the Lagos Plan of Action, Declaration of Lome and Arusha Declaration, of which Nigeria is a signatory. Consequently, the Ministry of Communications is found to be pursuing the following objectives on the development of telecommunications services, in future, in order to achieve self reliance by the year 2000.
(a) Support for the government's programme of rural infrastructure development by extending telephone service to the rural areas in an economic and judicious manner.
(b) Campaign for the recognition, by the government, of telecommunications as a support component for other development sectors such as agriculture, tourism, health and education so as to ensure that the funding necessary for the telecommunication facilities required is included in the development plans for these sectors.
(c) Adoption of an operation and maintenance strategy that will ensure maximum utilisation of the existing facilities and provision of good quality service in order to generate adequate funds for further development of the network.
(d) Standardisation,a pre-requisite for local manufacture, being embarked upon, covering equipment and materials operations and architecture as applicable.
(e) Local manufacture of materials, components and systems in partnership with good intentioned industrial entrepreneurs, to enhance maintenance of existing systems, to establish a technological base necessary for achievement of self reliance in telecommunications technology.
(f) Tapping available resources for the financing of the implementation of well designed and economical viable projects for rehabilitation, maintenance and new installations.
(g) Establishing a suitable management structure for the implementation of the development programmes.
(h) Operating a tariff structure which will ensure enhanced revenue generation from urban facilities without discouraging the use of rural facilities.
(i) Establishment of Research and Development facilities where special investigations, pilot projects will be carried out.
(j) Intensive local or in-plant training and re-training of executive technical manpower.
(k) Co-operation with other Administrations and the CCIT on frequency spectrum management.
(l) Adoption of suitable planning and forecasting approach to determine the exact requirements for a project to ensure that it will be correctly implemented and successfully put into service.
(m) Increase the available telephone lines in the country to above one million to achieve the target density of 1 percent for a population of 100 million.
(n) To ensure that all citizens of the country are within easy reach of telephone service by the year 2000 and other services which telecommunications can provide, thereafter.
It has to be explained how complex it is to run a telecommunication network. One has to consider technology, finance, planning, maintenance, procurement, personnel, training, to mention a few. Presently, about 70 per cent of the Nigerian population have no access to telephone services. Despite the massive expansion of the telecommunications network during the last decade, the national coverage remains small, concentrated and congested.
8.1 Government Policy and Strategies on Technology Development
The technology policies and strategies recently enunciated by government are geared to ensure the continuous and sustained upliftment of general quality of life and national security, through self-reliance, in the shortest possible time, compatible with the optimal utilisation of the nation's resources and cultural life patterns. The policies are:
i) In all aspects of the day-to-day activities of the nation, advantage must be taken of technological development.
ii) Major government projects involving imported technology shall be procured in an "unpackaged" form.
iii) Strategic capital goods industry shall as far as possible be controlled by Nigerians.
iv) Organisations that maintain locally based research and development activities shall receive special incentives.
v) Important national development projects shall not be based on unproven foreign technologies.
Some of the strategies for implementing the stated policy objectives are:
i) Fostering, promoting and sustaining technology development programmes to rehabilitate, refurbish and replace existing industries, plants and components by local and other efforts;
ii) Intensifying programmes in technology development in both public and private industrial, educational and service establishments;
iii) Controlling the mode of foreign investments in industries with a view to ensure technology acquisition within a specific time frame;
iv) Ensuring that technology-based private and public enterprises maintain functional research and development units in the country.
v) Run the electronic industries for the fabrication and manufacture of equipment and spare-parts.
8.2 MODERNISATION OF TELECOMMUNICATIONS IN NIGERIA
As a result of advances in technology rapid changes are taking place in telecommunications. These changes have had a profound effect on telecommunications particularly in the areas of computerisation, digitalization and regulatory policy.
Advances in technology are also responsible for the rapid decline in the price of electronic computers consequently they are now in such a widespread use that computer terminals constitute a significant proportion of the connections to the telecommunication network. The combination of electronic computers and telecommunications has ushered in the information age. An age where information has become an essential commodity for the running of business and our daily life. In several countries there is a rush to modernise telecommunications to cope with the demands of the information age. The need for modernisation is not only to satisfy anticipated demand, it also includes the desire to use the innovations brought about by new technologies to provide employment opportunities and to create prosperity.
In Nigeria work started recently, on telecommunications project which would introduce at least 130,000 digital telephone lines in Lagos. This project involves construction of new exchanges and expansion of some existing ones. It is being financed with a World Bank Loan.
The new exchanges which are also being located in the suburbs of Lagos are to have a total of 5,000 digital lines.
A new transmission facility involving digitalizing about 30 repeater stations to link Lagos state with Kano is also in the current development plan.
These projects are part of NITEL'S massive network expansion programme aimed at modernising and extending services to more Nigerians. Other services outside Lagos, the headquarters of NITEL, include the newly introduced 20,000 digital lines into the telephone network in Ibadan Oyo State to cover the Western zone of the country. The project was executed at a cost of N1.33 billion.
Other digital exchanges recently switched into the network in the South West zone are Abeokuta Exchange with 6,000 lines, Warri Exchange with 5,000 lines and the Benin (central) Exchange with 10,000 lines. Ilorin which is in the North West Zone was also switched into the network with 6,000 lines. Similarly, NITEL introduced into its networks, in 1995, a data transmission system which is known as X.25 packet switching. The system allows for point to point and point to multi-point data transmission with and between organisations.
The X.25 packet switching system was introduced because data telecommunications systems have become a vital and strategic tool required to launch the country into a new phase of growth and International relations. Plans are on to expand the X.25 system which has one node to a multi-node network to cover the whole country.
The new service was said to be introduced as a value-added network service as allowed under the deregulation policy of the government. The new service also allows the investment of human and material resources in the delivery of reliable and cost effective services.
9.0 Human Resources for Information Development
Although telecommunications is a capital intensive business, proper personnel planning and procedures are indispensable if it is to be efficiently run.
An efficient telecommunications system depends on the calibre and skill of its managerial staff. It is vitally important to ensure a sufficient supply of managers, with personality and intellect equal to the complex demands of telecommunications. All potentially good managers within the organisation must be identified, and properly developed. If good managers or functional specialists like accountants cannot be found within the organisation, they must be brought in from outside. The administration is advised to be prepared to provide adequate incentives (salaries, working conditions, etc) which will attract and retain a permanent force of competent managers and functional specialists.
The calibre of first and second line supervision is just as important as that of more senior line management. It is a characteristic of telecommunications that it depends on the actions of a large number of staff scattered in small and often mobile groups, who by the quality and productivity of their work largely determine the success of the enterprise. In these circumstances, first line supervision has a particularly important and difficult job to do. Supervisors must be selected not just because they are proficient in the skills needed to do the work they have to supervise, but also for their potential as leaders and organisers of work.
In the circumstances of a developing country, it is vital that there should be adequate facilities for training every level of staff in the work they have to do. Managers need a thorough understanding of modern business technology, of its potential and of the very wide range of problems to which it gives rise. Supervisors must be taught the skills of management and organisation. Technical staff must be trained in the skills appropriate to the kind of work they will have to do - maintaining high technology equipment, installing and maintaining cables and so on.
In many developing countries, labour costs are relatively low, and it may be more economical to continue to perform certain functions in a labour intensive way, rather than to use capital intensive high technology equipment. What is important is that, with the privatisation of NITEL services, the rate of increase in staff numbers must be kept lower than the rate of growth of business, so that labour productivity steadily improves. However, there must be recognition of the impact of technology and equipment investment. Staff costs are such a large part of the operating expenses of any telecommunication enterprises that productivity must be treated as an essential policy objectives if the authority concerned is to run efficiently and maintain its financial and economic viability. In addition to the general funding system, it is recommended that NITEL should spend up to 10 per cent of its allocated funds for local system capability development and deployment. This allocation will be used to develop the prototypes and must incorporate controls to minimise waste. A suitable set of guidelines for optimal utilisation of this fund are that:
i) The release of funds must be phased so as to reflect the amount of activity in the sector, otherwise saturation or starvation could occur both leading to disastrous consequences;
ii) Information flow must be maintained and all R & D units carefully locked into training groups to ensure a continuous renewal of talent so as to avoid stagnation;
iii) Overheads such as buildings and other auxiliaries should be strictly controlled so as to avoid wastage and abuse.
iv) Production facilities should be shared initially with entrepreneurs who may in fact ultimately take over most of the R & D function for new technologies once such a culture is entrenched.
Still on human resources development, the UN-NADAF (United Nations New Agenda for the Development of Africa) in the 1990s requested UNESCO to play leadership role in the areas of human resources development, capacity building including scientific research and the transfer of technology for sustainable development, democratic participation in the development process and the promotion and respect of human rights. This resulted in the launching in 1989 by UNESCO, the Priority Africa programme along the lines of emphasis outlined in the Lagos Plan of Action for the Development of Africa (1980-2000). In pursuance of these aims, UNESCO organised in February 1995, a conference titled "Audience Africa" designed to identify the priorities for African development by a cross section of actors in the African scene from government, non-governmental organisations, politicians, cultural and scientific communities. This conference has among other achievements produced a series of recommendations on capacity building in Africa, particularly in the crucial field of science and technology. Earlier in 1994, UNESCO launched the International Fund for the Technological Development in Africa with an allocation of One million dollars as a start-up contribution. The organisation is committed to ensure "an enhanced flow of resources from the international community to support domestic efforts in Africa."
Capacity building in Science and Technology depends on a sound base of human resources development. A command of literacy and numeracy is a pre-condition for successful learning in science and technology and in other fields. The key to development that is self-reliant and sustainable is education. Given the vast expanse of African countries and the problems of transportation facing the continent, education can be more rapidly fostered through the installation of mass and rapid communication systems. One of the objectives of establishing the Telecommunication Foundation of Africa (TFA) was to assist in bringing African countries closer to the global information society. This objective is apparently being pursued here in Nigeria through active cooperation with networks such as the Regional Informatics Network for Africa, a programme conceived by the Inter-governmental Information Programme of UNESCO and which is being financed by a grant of the Italian government and by a contribution from the Republic of Korea. The officially designated RINAF's national node for Nigeria is based at the National Centre for Technology Management (NACETEM) located at the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife. NACETEM, through RINAF actively cooperates with and was co-founder of the Nigerian Internet Group. UNESCO is instrumental to the establishment of both NACETEM in Nigeria and the RINAF initiative. There is no doubt that judging from the array of continental activities, a good foundation is being laid for the integration of Africa into the global communication system. UNESCO's Intergovernmental Information Programme (IIP) in its implementation of the Informafrica regional strategy has introduced informatics into the education system in selected African countries including Nigeria. IIP has supported the training of informatics specialists and users in collaboration with research and training institutes and is helping to facilitate entry of young people and women into working life. IIP plans to extend its activities under RINAF to include a growing number of African institutions to further consolidate the joint activities of African scientists in education and administration.
Therefore, in pursuance of its commitment to the use of informatics and on human resources for information development efforts in education, UNESCO is also promoting the development of a Satellite University of Science and Technology (SUST), an inter-university network to broaden global educational exchange via satellite broadcasting. UNESCO initiated SUST in collaboration with the National Technology University, Colorado USA in its belief that in the long run, education via the airwaves is a cost effective and equitable manner of delivering knowledge to the work place and the house. SUST is being planned to produce post-graduate, scientific and lifelong learning programmes for distribution to participating schools, universities, homes and workplaces. To do so each site will have a satellite transmitter, an Internet link and video production facilities. With the successful implementation of on-going efforts in Nigeria, this country should be in a position to benefit from the opportunities for scientific and technological manpower development which SUST will provide given the scarcity of human resources and technical facilities available in the country.
With the Cairo University of Egypt serving as the Arab host of SUST, Nigeria representing 20% of Africa's population is also planning to serve as the African host for SUST in order to bring the benefits of scientific and technological education to a sizeable proportion of Africa and enhance the country's capacity for sustainable economic growth.
The initiative that has led to this collaborative effort between a RINAF node and the TFA a non-governmental organisation will certainly lead to the elaboration of strategies that will help African countries to develop those telecommunication infrastructures that will enhance person to person communication, electronic mail, person to group communication and provide access to data among African scientists, researchers as well as industries.
NITEL is currently planning to pursue the execution of a number of programmes to strengthen the network in the midst of deregulation. The programmes are:
(a) Massive training and re-training of engineers and technologists to cope with intensive maintenance demand.
(b) Organisation of annual national maintenance seminars and workshops and also for systems utilization level and plan.
(c) Improvement on the present network performance indicators through responsive customer-oriented operations procedures/guidelines with decentralized stores (materials management) organisation.
(d) Development of skills in traffic engineering and network management.
(e) Use of fibre optic cable and satellite networks (value-added network services).
(f) Establishment of a third-level National Repairs and Calibration Centre for equipment refurbishment repairs, consequent upon the absence of manufacturing facilities in the country.
Closely related to the above is the need for collaboration to ensure that equipment is compatible and of acceptable quality. To set the rules of the game in the midst of equipment with varying standards, the NCC is empowered to seize the initiative to define national standards for a harmonized network. Not only will systems be required to support optional network requirements, they must also be adaptable to meeting future services specification requirements with minimal software/firmware/hardware upgrades or modifications.
10.0 EXAMPLES: SUCCESS CASES, NATIONAL EFFORTS, SECTORAL EFFORTS
The achievements, to date, from these development efforts have resulted in the establishment of the following telecommunications facilities:
(a) 227 analogue automatic telephone switching centres with an installed total capacity of about 400,000 lines out of more than 205,000 lines have been connected:
(b) 436 terrestrial microwave relay stations, comprising 264 terminal stations and 172 repeater stations and providing the bulk of toll and trunk circuits for the national network.
(c) a national telex network of total capacity of 12,800 lines.
(d) International telex exchange of 1,500 trunks.
(e) A co-axial cable system (960 voice channels) between Lagos and Kaduna.
(f) A domestic satellite system with three Gateways at Lanlate (Lagos), Kujama (Kaduna) and Enugu.
(h) A submarine cable system linking Lagos with Abidjan, Dakar and Casablanca and carrying about 10 per cent of the Lagos Gateway traffic as well as providing an alternative route for international services when the satellite circuits fail.
One of the other major achievements of NITEL was the expansion of the telecommunications network from 207,000 line in 1985 to over 500,000 installed lines in 1995. The staff-to-line ratio of 180 staff to 1000 lines in 1985 progress to 14 staff to 1,000 lines in 1995. Major network expansion and modernisation projects were also carried out within the period. Such projects have led to the:
1. Digital facilities in each station and ITSC at Enugu.
2. More than 15,000 lines Cellular Mobile Radio.
3. Celluphone for rural communications.
4. Lagos 'bound' 45,000 lines Digital local exchange at Odunlami.
5. Victoria Island earth station.
6. Joint Venture Arrangements with Digital Telecomms resulting in the formation of Mobile Telecomms Services (MTS).
NITEL also has the following components to focus on:
1. Modernisation of the network to ensure reliability and effective network services and performance.
2. Network expansion for improved revenue generation.
3. Provision of value-added services like voice mails.
4. Customer care
5. Detailed billing.
Following from the promulgation of decree 75 of 1992, private firms have now started to venture into telecommunications services in Nigeria. One of such companies is the Info Communications Ltd which works in partnership with U.S. Sprint (one of the world's leaders in telecommunications) to provide a global data solution for the Nigerian marketplace.
Utilizing one of the most sophisticated equipment manufactured by Alcatel, Info Communications X.25 packet switching network provides the following services:
(a) X.25 services
- Synchronous connectivity
- Asynchronous connectivity or Dial-up
(b) Electronic Mail
- Fax delivery
- Telex delivery
- Internet mail delivery
- X.40 access to over 300 mail systems such as CompuServe Mail, AT&T mail, MCI mail, etc.
Info Communications has already finalized discussions with U.S. sprint on the implementation of full Internet services in Nigeria.
10.1 Electronic Connectivity in Nigeria: The Awareness Level
One example of the electronic connectivity infrastructure in Nigeria is that of the electronic networking of the Nigerian Universities evolved from the need to improve on the information interchange within the Nigerian University System, through the establishment of strong, regular and reliable links between the universities and the global academic community for the speedy and accurate exchange of information needed to enhance the effectiveness and efficient running of the universities particularly with regards to information on:
* Research - facilities, manpower, funds...;
* Published scientific papers - national and international;
* Conferences, seminars and workshops
* Strategic and tactical planning of universities.
In September, 1994, the National Universities Commission (NUC) set-up an Electronic Mail (E-Mail) Committee to examine the feasibility, eventual introduction, and full utilization of electronic mail system within and beyond the Nigerian University System. Following its inauguration, the Committee elaborated a methodology and a time-table for carrying out its assignment, as well as a strategy for attaining the specific goals set for it.
A feasibility study was carried out in 1995 in eleven carefully selected Federal Universities. The result shows that the level of computer awareness and its utilization is above average. However, awareness of electronic communication technology is very low while its utilization is virtually non-existent and limited to very few individuals and departments that have linkage arrangements with international research and funding agencies. Intra-and inter-campus communication, as well as international communication, is heavily dependent upon regular postal and courier services, largely due to non-existent of or unreliable telephone and telefax services. Bulky textual material is conveyed nationally and internationally almost entirely by regular mail. A detailed report of the survey is presented in another section of this document
The feasibility study also revealed that there is no comprehensive Local Area Network (LAN) installation in all the institutions investigated. The exception is the National Universities Commission (NUC) where there is a node UNIX based LAN in place. The virtual absence of computer networks and e-mail services in Nigerian universities underscores the isolation of Nigerian academics, one of the serious consequences of which is the quality of postgraduate training and research. Nigeria, an integral part of the global village, is yet to apply her numerous resources fully in becoming an information driven society where individual and corporate efficiency are enhanced by the use of computers.
Computing in developed countries has since given way to the era of computer networking - where individual computers are interconnected for greater efficiency and better information management via telecommunication lines.
Currently, only a few countries in Africa have Internet nodes that provide full access to all Internet services. Other countries including Nigeria are just forming local networks first, often using Fidonet technology and then connecting into the Internet through a central service. Figures 3, 4 and 5 show plans being currently promoted by the National Universities Commission (NUC) to link the Nigerian University community to the global world of information and communication.
Similarly, it is estimated that a sum of $378,940.00 will be required by the Nigerian Internet Group (NIG) to get Nigeria fully connected into the global computer network, Internet. This amount covers expenses to be incurred on computers and accessories, staff, offices, equipment and telecommunications.
A breakdown of the amount showed that the highest amount of $264,500 would be spent on one international telephone connection of a 64KB international leased line for a period of two years. Computers, accessories on one hand, and staff, offices and equipment on another hand, will gulp $76,849 and $37,600 respectively.
10.2 THE CABECA AND OTHER INITIATIVES
After the not too successful approach of connecting the University of Ibadan to the Electronic Communications world with the assistance of the Capacity Building for Electronic Communications in Africa (CABECA) of the Pan African Development Information Systems (PADIS) of the ECA, Addis Ababa, several suggestions have been offered as to linking up the university to the rest of the world-wide academic community through the E-mail and through other communication facilities.
Initially there were three options open to the university. These are:
1. Accepting the offer of CABECA to link up to the Green-Net in London for which PADIS accepted to write off all expenses incurred by the university for 6 months.
2. Utilizing the services of the Commercial Vendors (similar to utilizing the services of the DHL. IMNL, UPS, RED STAR, IAS etc in normal postal system). In electronic Communications there are now quite a number of these vendors. The biggest of them all with wide coverage is the COMPUSERVE which has outlets in London, the USA and South Africa.
Consideration of the Above Options
1. The PADIS offer was tried three times and failed. The failure of this approach was attributed to:
i. resultant breakdown of the supplied modems due to power surge.
ii. non availability of a user manual to back up operation of the system which had in most cases made error corrections difficult.
iii.lack of a dedicated system operator to assist users process outbound messages and forward incoming messages to owners.
2. The second option of utilizing the services of any of the available commercial vendors is the fastest and most reliable though it costs some money depending on usage. In addition, the university has to be responsible for the NITEL charges for the period it stays on line. This may not be more than 30 minutes a day of NITEL bill for the first 3 to 6 months of usage and higher prices thereafter.
Having abandoned the above options because of operational problems, the University of Ibadan is now linked to the internet from a computer at the Kenneth Dike Library of the University through a link with a computer system at Rhodes University, South Africa, which serves as the gateway to the Internet.
This linkage is a significant milestone of an on-going project to establish a campus e-mail grid of faculties, departments and units of the University which will then hook up to the outside world through the link.
So far, as of February 16 1995, a total of 174 calls were made within 3 months to Rhodes University by the UI-AAUnet mail server computer.
Also, the Latunde Odeku Library, University College Hospital (UCH), Ibadan, is presently offering effective and readily accessible e-mail services within the university system. The e-mail system was established in May 1995 by a UCH alumni group based in the USA. The group donated the microcomputer, modem and software, and pays for telephone and gateway connect charges at the USA end.
A project similar to the Odeku Library e-mail facility has also been proposed by the Association of Nigerian Physicians in the Americas (ANPA). The Association hopes to make UI and up to four other institutions coordinating nodes of a network to link medical colleges in Nigeria with a gateway in the USA. The Association plans to provide and install equipment, train operational personnel, pay for connectivity link to the internet.
11.0 ORGANISATIONS (PRIVATE AND PUBLIC) UTILIZING E-MAIL SYSTEM FOR DATA COMMUNICATION
While private telecommunication operators are still expected to take advantage of the deregulated environment, NITEL remains the sole provider of public telecommunication services in Nigeria. The preceding sections have enumerated those services currently being offered by NITEL as the sole provider of telecommunication facilities in Nigeria. Other organisations whose facilities are capable of providing necessary electronic connectivity for the economic development of the country include:
ii. NNPC (Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation)
The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) currently uses optical fibre routes for its data communications activities. One stretch of the route starts from Warri through Abudu, Auchi, Lokoja, Abaji and Serkin Pawa to Kaduna. The other stretch starts from Mosimi through Ore to Benin. The Lagos area offices and facilities of the NNPC access the optical fibre route at Mosimi via a microwave link through Atlas Cove while the horizontal segment links the vertical segment via a microwave link from Benin to Abudu. The optical fibre and the microwave links have 140mbps and 34mbps respectively. The microwave links operate at 7GHZ. Figure 3 shows the NNPC telecommunication routes within the country.
Terminations for interfacing with telecommunication equipment are effected at each of the transit towns (nodes). NNPC now has an enormous bandwidth of its comprehensive telecommunication system which it plans to share with other organisations that may require such services. The horizontal and vertical segments of the route will serve site interconnections in the Lagos, South West, South East, East Central, North Central and Abuja zones conveniently.
iii. INTERNATIONAL INSTITUTE OF TROPICAL AGRICULTURE (IITA), IBADAN
Currently, IITA makes use of both INMARSAT and NITEL telecommunications links to effect e-mail connectivity. The INMARSAT channel account for upward of 90% of the total e-mail routings, because according to some IITA officials, the NITEL channel is still not adequately reliable. IITA is hoping for a more reliable NITEL because the INMARSAT link, according to some key operators of the facility, is very expensive.
The equipment for the INMARSAT link is currently estimated at about $80,000. In addition, IITA pays $10-20 per minute to use the line, which is between 6-8 times the NITEL rates.
iv. THE NATIONAL OIL COMPANY
The National Oil Company based in Lagos, currently uses leased lines to carry out its data communication operations. However, because of problems currently being encountered it is proposing switching over to VSAT which it claims, will enable it carry out its numerous data communication activities such as:
1. Exchange of files
2. E-mail services
3. Bulletin Board Services (BBS)
4. Sharing of software
5. Centralized database system with different access levels.
The VSAT application is expected to facilitate its exchange of data across its offices located in Kaduna, Ibadan, Port Harcourt, Jos, Warri, Kano, Benin and Lagos.
The Company also realised that while optics fibre connection can be one of the most reliable means of data communication, more so that it can last for up to 25 years and not affected by corrosion, however the cost of laying this facility is highly prohibitive and is only recommended for building to building connectivity only as opposed to Wide area connectivity.
v. INFO COMMUNICATIONS, LAGOS
One other private e-mail operator, the Info communications which apart from forging ahead in international electronic linkages with the installation of Sprint International first node in Africa with the introduction of SprintNet X.25 services in Lagos, is proposing to provide services to link some zones in Nigeria, namely Kaduna, Kano, Abuja, Warri, Aba, Lagos, and Port Harcourt via the X.25 Network.
As for its international connectivity activities, it is now handling the data communications of a number of organisations such as the Nigerian Breweries PLC, Esso oil, Arthur Anderson Management Consultants while institutions like the International Tropical Agriculture (IITA) at Ibadan, Coca-Cola Bottling Company, University of Nigeria Nsukka and the University of Ibadan are initiating moves to utilize its services. Its prposed countrywide connectivity is contained in Figure 6.
CGNET, though not based in Nigeria provides easy-to-use, worldwide electronic mail links for Research and Non Governmental Organizations with internal (LAN-based) electronic mail systems. This CGNET facility helps to improve and increase communications among institutions, facilitating global collaboration. The Company presently offers its services to a number of Organisations in Nigeria, notably the IITA.
SITA owns and operates the world's largest international data network. It provides an extensive range of telecommunications and information processing services.
It offers a complete spectrum of standard telecommunications products available on the market. These include: managed data network services using frame relay, X.25, SNA or airline communication protocols; X.40-based messaging; and EDI. Mobile air-ground communications and airport services are also part of SITA's portfolio.
Users' application systems, personal computers, fax terminals, intelligent workstations and synchronous/asynchronous terminals access SITA's network via leased lines, public switched telephone networks (PSTN), public data networks (PDN) and Telex networks are also adequately entered for over 200,000 display terminals, messaging terminals and associated printers installed in 44,000 customer offices all over the world including Nigeria for the airline information system. For organisations that require high speeds for network access and data transport, SITA offers frame relay advanced packet switching technology.
In addition, its X.28 Dial Access Service provides low cost access to SITA's managed data network services for occasional users via standard telephone lines.
SITAMAIL messaging services allow users of different electronic mailing systems to communicate with one another. Based on the X.40 standard for universal communications, SITAMAIL provides gateways on SITA's global network which perform all translations between the various messaging formats, quickly and transparently. Access to SITAMAIL is gained from X.40 or proprietary electronic mail systems working on laptops, PCs, LANs or mainframe computers.
In addition, the SITAMAIL Telex delivery service transmits E-mail messages to any Telex user worldwide, while the SITAMAIL Fax service delivers E-mail messages to any fax machine. The service features multi-addressing capabilities, and automatically returns a delivery notification message to the originator.
The SITATEX messaging software package allows users to exchange files and messages between PCs, laptops and LANs. User-friendly features make it easy to edit, file quote and print messages, while transmission costs and times are significantly reduced by powerful compression techniques.
12.0 THE INFRASTRUCTURE: EXISTING LOCALLY AND ACCESSIBLE FROM ABROAD
Most of the operators listed above are institutional non commercial operators. Among those companies which offer a range of high calibre telecommunication services such as access to INMARSAT for full coverage of operations on marine, commercial broadcasting, weather, fax and high AM frequencies is EXPOMA whose product, Extrad Communication Controller (Data via Radio) is a combination of an Extrad Modem, HF Radio Telephone SG 2000 and a micro computer system. This Facility enables any organisation to communicate at any distance from computer to computer, using standard HF radio communication equipment allowing fast and error-free text and data transmission. The text and binary files that are easily transmitted include:
powerful text editor
The system also has a software facility to automatically compress text for a faster throughput to increase communication by as much as 80%. Because of the simplicity of the equipment, receiving a message or file does not require an operator. Texts are automatically stored in computer memory and outputs generated later. It comes with a software designed for easy, routine operation even by untrained personnel. It also has provision for confirmation of receipt of messages to be automatically sent back to originating station.
The cost of this facilities estimated at 900,000 - 1,000,000 per site (Excluding the micro-computer but with software and installation). It is totally independent of NITEL but requires obtaining license to operate the radio frequency system.
13.0 STRENGTHENING THE INFORMATION DISSEMINATION INFRASTRUCTURE
In Nigeria, there is presently a seeming anti-intellectual climate symbolised in the fear of dissent and of those who seek to probe beyond the surface of things. One outward manifestation of this intellectual backwardness is that the market for books is still small and the literacy ratio low, while the most cost-effective channels for the distribution of information material, including books, through which we can reach the various segments of the population are yet to be created, and even the Federal and State governments do not seem to have outlets for their publications. Yet, we need books of all kinds and in all places to sustain the new literate who are only too easily susceptible to relapse into functional illiteracy.
Despite the phenomenal growth in the education budget in the last three or four decades, there is still an abysmal intellectual apathy even among the educated elite in Nigeria, today. There is still a deplorable lack of infrastructural facilities - modern printing and efficient postal and telecommunication machinery, in spite of several suggestions that have been made to the Government in recent years as to how the book and film industry can be developed, e.g., the reduction or total abolition of import duties on books, printing and cinematographic materials, provision of state loans and subsidies to encourage the establishment of bookshops and publishing houses, seminars, book clubs, libraries and training facilities for those engaged in the book and film industries - writers, publishers, producers and film stars, booksellers, libraries, readers and viewers. So far, little has been done along these lines, but the need is urgent if we are to raise our society out of its intellectual stupor and moral disarray. In addition to the old battle against imperialism, for equitable terms of trade and equal freedom of action in the international arena - which is by no means over - we are today engaged in an equally vital battle for the minds of our people in the realm of knowledge, morals and technology. This cannot be ignored, if we are to justify our existence and claim to equality with the rest of the world.
14.0 DEVELOPMENT COMMUNICATION PLANNING
In development communication, planning is a deliberate, systematic and continuous effect to organise human activity for the efficient use of communication resources and for the realisation of communication policies, in the context of a particular country's development goals, means and priorities and subject to its prevailing forms of social, economic and political organisation. Development communication planning, therefore, must take into account the development environment and goals of the country in which the planning takes place. In addition, the country's political ideology, social issues, communication facilities and systems, as well as available resources must all be properly studied before planning the communication strategy that would suit the environment.
Unfortunately, communication is usually brought into the planning of development programmes only as an after-thought. Emphasis in most developing countries is always on publicity. for the authorities in such countries there is no difference between information (provision of facts and figures) and communication (exchange of ideas). No serious thought is usually given to the importance of communication - mass, interpersonal, traditional and folk - in development. Provisions are usually made for publicising development plans and objectives, but very little is done for feedback and for discussions. Hence a common complaint of communication researchers and practitioners is that communication policies and plans are too often in the hands of those who do not know enough about communication to set up or contribute to the communication systems that best serve the development needs of their countries.
In development communication planning, therefore, communication should not be seen only as a tool, a supporting mechanism or an independent variable in development. It should be viewed as an integral part of development plans, one of whose major objectives is to create communication systems or modes that would provide opportunity for people to have access to means of communication, and to make use of these means in improving the quality of their lives. Therefore, in seeking solutions to the problems of communication in development, it is imperative to first look at the larger development process, and then at the role or roles of communication within the larger system.
A general objective of any serious organisation would be to effectively and efficiently provide service to its customers as and when required;and simultaneously run a viable and profitable business to the satisfaction of both management and staff.
The present developmental status of Telecommunications (a public utility service) cannot be assessed in isolation of the general economic trends of the country. Setting realistic objectives depend on many factors including the Nigerian Internal and External policies, Existing infrastructure for Telecommunication services (Internal and External), Government Telecommunications Policy, manpower development, Industrialisation programme and Fiscal policies.
The following points are pertinent to the Nigerian situation as of now:
i) Planning and Implementation of Telecommunications projects is promised on the Importation of manufactured Telecomms equipment from industrialised countries.
ii) While Tenders are to standard specifications, Nigeria now purchases equipment from the global market unlike the pre 1960 period when supplies were mainly from the UK.
iii) Replacement of equipment is partially influenced by lack of spares to maintain existing ones since relevant manufacturing is not done in the country.
iv) External Plants Construction is generally super-imposed on already developed towns/cities instead of being provided for earlier as a firm infrastructure at the preliminary stages of Civil Works development. This leads to inadequate space provisioning and hence high susceptibility to physical interference and sometimes frequent damage.
v) Inadequate supply of the public utility services that support Telecommunications, e.g. water, electricity and Gas.
vi) The inability of the public security agencies to extend services to remotely located plants sites.
vii) Inadequate facilities to guarantee continuous equipment training and retraining for in-serving officers locally.
viii) Problems associated with introduction of new technology in the network.
ix) The need to guarantee the main frame work of the organisational structure and policy continuity once adopted by government.
x) Natural climatic condition (temperature, humidity, etc.) unsuitable for modern electronic Telecommunications equipment. Air conditioning of equipment environment is necessary to obtain the ambient operating condition desired or specified.
14.2 Service Objectives
The main service objective of NITEL is to ensure that Telecommunications facilities are accessible to the generality of the Nigerian public (privately/public) at a cost considered reasonable, and are efficiently operated and maintained at the lowest practical cost to provide satisfactory and uninterrupted service as and when required.
This service objective is further addressed under the four main sections of the Telecommunication chain.
The essence of encouraging liberalisation, competition, deregulation and ultimate privatization is the envisaged end result of continuously improving efficiency and quality of service to be enjoyed by customers for lower prices. Telecommunication is known to be capital intensive. It is also an accepted normal business practice that some level of profitability must be achieved else, the business would collapse. However, in a competitive environment, market forces naturally dictate that prices charged must be near cost of provision for survival and sustenance. The issue of tariffs get more and more difficult by the day because the old traditions are changing, giving way to new ones. The I.T.U. approved agreements between administrations (nations) on International traffic settlements, which was aimed at encouraging expansion of networks in developing nations, may no longer apply with the upsurge in International service providers who are not committed to the traditional monopolistic arrangement. Tariffs for all kinds of services with the associated billing administration are key issues for management in a deregulated Telecom environment.
14.4 Spectrum management
The radio frequency spectrum like the Geostationary Satellite orbit is vital and limited national resources in the world of telecommunications. Despite this, their accessibility is not restricted by geographical or political frontiers neither is it depleted by use. There is therefore need for some measure of control to avoid harmful interference to users and ensure equitable access. Some 130 years ago in 1865 to be precise, the International Telegraph Union was formed in Paris to address issues of Regulations in the field of Telecommunications which was then predominantly Telegraphy as the name implied. In later years after the discovery of Radio, the issues became more complex and therefore required a more orderly and articulate approval at the World Administrative Radio Conferences organised by the Radio communication sector of the re-christened and re-structured International Telecommunication Union which, after the second world War, became an agency of the United Nations Organisation. The Radio regulations contain entries of allocation of giving frequency bands for the three I.T.U. classified Regions of the world of which Africa belongs to Region 1. Assignment of frequencies is made through the licensing process in each administration (nation). The wide use of frequency for broadcasting, terrestrial point to point, point to multipoint, Line of Sight Long Distance Radio Networks, VSATs and other satellite-based systems,such as Remote Control, Search and Rescue, Paging, Cellular as well as other Mobile Communications in General, amongst other numerous functions, make this an essential Regulatory issue in a deregulated telecommunication environment. More entrants into the communications field today are taking advantage of Radio Based Systems because of the relative ease of installation and redeployment where/when necessary and also for cost effectiveness.
15.0 AWARENESS OF THE POPULACE ON THE APPLICATIONS OF INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY TO DEVELOPMENT
It was here in the continent of Africa (Nairobi-Kenya to be precise) in 1982, that the International Telecommunication Union decided to set up an Independent Commission for World Wide Telecommunication Development. The seventeen member commission carried out its assignment under the chairmanship of Sir Donald Maitland of the United Kingdom and submitted a report titled "THE MISSING LINK" by December 1984. In the published report of January 1985, the following observations and recommendations were made amongst several others:
(1) that the gross and growing imbalance in the distribution of telecommunications throughout the world was not tolerable.
(2) that there were some 600 million telephones in the world then, of which three quarters were concentrated in the nine advanced industrialised countries with the remainder, distributed unevenly throughout the rest of the world.
(3) that the pace of technological innovation was such that inhabitants of the industrialised world looked forward to enjoying the full benefit of the so called "information society" by the end of the century.
(4) that in the majority of developing countries the telecommunication system was inadequate to sustain essential services. In large tracts of territory there was no system at all. Neither in the name of common humanity nor on ground of common interest was such a disparity acceptable.
(5) that in pursuance of the recommendations, the overriding objectives should be to bring all mankind within easy reach of a telephone in the early part of the next century.
(6) that achieving this objective will require a range of actions by both the industrialised and developing countries.
It was over ten years ago when these conclusions were reached; the pertinent question to ask today is, what changes have taken place here in Africa where the study was initiated, that could be regarded as a direct response to the above recommendations amongst others. International, Regional and United Nations agencies' statistical records reflect that while there have been marked improvement in the emerging economies of the Far East, and, the industrialised nations that have attained universal service making optimum use of opportunities offered by information technology, many countries in Africa are yet to attain the I.T.U.'s minimum recommended level of basic telephone density required for any nation.
A number of workshops had been organised recently to draw the attention of the populace to the importance of Information Technology to development. At one of such meetings, especially the one on the Draft of the National Policy on Information Resources and Services held at the Administrative Staff College of Nigeria (ASCON), Topo, Badagry, Lagos State and was held under the auspices of UNESCO and the National Library of Nigeria, February 18-20, 1991, the following recommendations were arrived at:-
1. All information must be available to all people, in all formats purveyed through all communication channels and delivered at all levels of comprehension.
2. All types of information resources and services produced in Nigeria constitute a vital investment in the national development efforts. Such information should be systematically collected, preserved and effectively managed as basic inputs to national development efforts at all levels.
3. Endogenous information and indigenous knowledge must be regularly integrated with externally generated information on Nigeria's development, as well as with relevant information on the development of other countries.
4. Nigeria's information resources and services must be organized in space and time so that waste is avoided or minimized. In particular, the acquisition, storage and sharing of information resources and services must be rationalized to ensure the optimal utilization of human, material and fiscal resources in national development.
5. Information resources in all forms - oral, book, serial, print, electronic media, etc. must be harnessed and repackaged, using the most cost effective processing, communication and transport technologies available to deliver appropriately targeted information to all categories of Nigerians, and especially the illiterate and rural population who constitute more than 80% of the population.
15.1 Awareness at the University Level
An information revolution, according to a NUC report, is underway. People all over the world -from university professors to farmers - are using their computers linked to the telephone to exchange messages, news, data and information over huge distances at relatively low costs. Data and information are travelling along global information highways, which have been carved up into electronic systems, dominated by the giant internet system. Traffic on these systems is increasing by a phenomenal ten percent per month. Many countries in the developed and developing areas of the world are investing heavily in the infrastructure necessary to build, expand, and use these information highways to accelerate or enhance their development priorities.
But, most of Africa is still struggling to become a part of these systems. Of all the regions of the world, Africa stands the farthest removed from the emerging Information Age; and within Africa, Nigeria is among the most remote. Consequently, Nigerian academics, researchers, planners, administrators, business people and others face severe obstacles in accessing the new technologies in order to communicate among themselves and with their counterparts abroad. The negative consequences of working in isolation are particularly serious in Nigerian universities where research and publication activities are being judged and must continue to be judged by universal standards.
The introduction of an e-mail project into the university system is thus aimed at sustaining the gains of journal acquisitions achieved through the adjustment credit of the World Bank by establishing strong, regular links between Nigerian Universities and the global academic community. This communications are essential for any university to fulfil its mandate in advance teaching and research. Poor communication on the other hand not only adds to university management costs and undercuts staff performance, it also limits quality teaching and research.
As mentioned earlier, a feasibility study, carried out by the NUC in eleven selected Federal Universities, showed that the level of computer awareness and its utilization in the selected universities was above average. However, awareness of electronic mail technology is very low while its utilization is virtually non-existent and limited to very few individuals and departments that have linkage arrangements with international research and funding agencies. Intra-and inter-campus communication, as well as international communication, is heavily dependent upon regular postal and courier services, largely due to non-existent or unreliable telephone and telefax services. Bulky textual material is conveyed nationally and internationally almost entirely by regular mail.
Considerable actual and potential physical and human resources required to instal, operationalize, and maintain a national e-mail system exist in Nigerian universities as well as in NITEL (Nigerian Telecommunications Ltd). The Chief Executive of each of the universities surveyed showed a remarkable level of enthusiasm and willingness to champion the e-mail sense; academics and senior administrative/professional staff considered the introduction of e-mail in Nigeria universities long overdue. The expected benefits of an e-mail facility were well appreciated by most respondents, a majority (52.3%) of whom reported preparedness to contribute towards its funding. In particular, the use of e-mail was perceived as a critical factor of interactive exchange of information, quality teaching and research, and the supervision of postgraduate students in Nigeria.
The major conclusion of the survey was that an effective electronic communication system for Nigerian universities is feasible and should be implemented in phases. Apart from initial hardware costs (servers, modems etc.) and the cost of leased lines, the envisaged annual maintenance and running costs for the proposed e-mail system would be far below the reported running costs of the present largely inefficient and unreliable communication systems in Nigerian universities.
Based on the firm conclusion of the survey that an e-mail project in Nigerian universities is a feasible proposition, some preliminary ideas on its design and implementation are briefly discussed. In particular, it is recommended amongest others:
that effective intra and inter-faculty electronic communication (PABX) be swiftly restored to every Nigerian university as the minimum pre-requisite for a meaningful e-mail system which would use the same universities as Nodes;
15.1.1 AVAILABILITY AND USE OF TELECOMMUNICATIONS/COMPUTING RESOURCES IN NIGERIAN UNIVERSITIES.
Traditional forms of telecommunications in Nigeria have not been as effective as they are in more developed countries. Postal mail services are relatively slow and unreliable despite recent efforts by the Nigerian Postal Services (NIPOST) with the introduction of the speed post. Bottlenecks in the system either due to lack of adequate transportation facilities or low incentives to workers, result in substantial delays in the delivery of mails.
Although Telephone services are becoming more and more reliable, especially with the digitalization drive of NITEL (Nigerian Telecommunications), the down-times are still very high while charges have gone up astronomically.
Although the Fascimile (Fax) machine is commonly used for transmitting textual documents, it is not as widely used in Nigeria as would have been expected. Their effectiveness is largely dependent on reliable, steady power supply as both sending and receiving machines must be left on at the same time. Potential users know that the erratic nature of the power supply from NEPA (Nigerian Electricity Power Authority) cannot guarantee this.
Computing in the form of personal computers, has made significant inroads in Nigerian universities, mostly in areas of word- processing, accounting, database management and research-based applications. However, using computers to communicate with one another, irrespective of geographical location, is yet to be a phenomenon in Nigerian universities as in most public-sector institutions. This is difficult to comprehend especially as it is mandatory for Federal universities in Nigeria to have computer centres. In addition, a large number of these universities have computer science departments, and the academics in these departments would have been expected to be in the forefront of electronic mailing connectivity initiatives, but presently this is not the case.
15.1.2 Computer Awareness and Usage
Most (61%) of the respondents surveyed in the above mentioned survey of 11 universities in Nigeria, reported moderate to high computer awareness, but only about half (49%) of respondents reported moderate to high Computer usage. (Figures 7 & 8). There exists great variation between Universities in terms of their levels of Computer awareness and usage. The overall picture is that awareness is much higher than usage (Figure 10) reflecting, perhaps, an insufficiency of Computing facilities and/or opportunities to use them in Universities.
15.1.3 Awareness and Use of E-mail
About half (162) of all respondents (296) reported awareness of e-mail technology, although only 1/5th of them have used the facility (and mostly for communication with targets outside Nigeria), as shown in Figure 9.
15.1.4 Communication Channel Used
Within Nigerian Universities, 63% of respondents reportedly communicated by using messengers/couriers, while only 37% reportedly used electronic communication system, such as the intercom device which is limited to part of a university such as a faculty (26.7%) or covers the entire university (9.1%). Only 1% of respondents expectedly, communicated by e-mail within their university communities (Figure 11).
All respondents reportedly communicated bulky textual materials by postal (80.1% or courier services (9.9%) within Nigeria and the Nigerian University System (Figure 13).
Almost all respondents (97.6%) reportedly used traditional postal or courier methods to covey bulky textual materials to destinations outside Nigeria (Figure 14), while very few used Fax (2.03%) or electronic mail (0.34%) for the same purpose.
Electronic communication facilities were reportedly available for use at inter-university and/or international levels for 68.6% of respondents (Figure 12). These facilities consisted mainly of telephones (42.9% - of which most are analog) or radio (17.2%). Electronic mail access was reported by only 3.0% of respondents.
15.2 RELEVANT INFRASTRUCTURAL FACILITIES
15.2.1 In another survey concerning respondents' perception regarding adequacy of infrastructural facilities relevant to electronic communication is very low. The facilities are viewed as non-available or inadequate for communication within the campus (99.2%) and outside (97.4%) as shown in Tables 3.1 - 3.4. Similarly, 96% of respondents expressed the view that available Computer facilities for E-Mail in their Universities were unacceptably inadequate. Perception regarding ability of Universities to maintain infrastructural facilities was, rather high (65.4%).
These depressing statistics of perception of Universities are important, but may not reflect the true situation in the country. Instead, they may have more bearing on low awareness and access to existing facilities which are mainly restricted to high-ranking University officers rather than academic units. It is a fact that every Federal University has at least one fax machine installed by NUC, and some of the Universities had more than 30 direct telephone lines.
15.2.2 Perceived Benefits of E-mail
Some 95% of all respondents were able to perceive the benefits of E-mail for research and/or research supervision purposes. Furthermore, 52% of all respondents were willing to subscribe for use of the facility on an individual basis. Most respondents (62%), however felt that the NUC, rather than individual Universities, should fund the E-mail project.
15.3 Awareness at the Federal Level
The Federal Government of Nigeria created, in 1979, the Ministry of Science and Technology to give leadership and direction to development of socio-economic well-being. Specifically, the ministry was mandated to coordinate and undertake scientific and technological research and development. These activities involve technological innovation, including integrating foreign technologies into local culture and upgrading indigenous technology, human resource development for the effective use of knowledge to create wealth and improve the quality of life, documentation and dissemination of related information, and promotion of international cooperation in science and technology. In order to perform directional and coordinational roles, the ministry formulated the Science and Technology Policy in 1986, which was revised and launched in 1989. The Science and Technology policy was aimed at:
1. increasing public awareness in science and technology and vital role in national development and well-being;
2. directing science and technology efforts along identified national goals;
3. promoting the translation of science and technology results into actual goods and services;
4. creating, increasing and maintaining an indigenous science and technology base through research and development;
5. motivating creative output in science and technology;
6. increasing and strengthening theoretical and practical scientific base in the society; and
7. increasing and strengthening the technological base of the Nation.
Towards achieving these policy objectives, the science and technology policy document identified strategies for implementation of the policy.
These strategies and institutional arrangements are as follows:
(a) Federal Ministry of Science and Technology is to supervise the twenty-six research institutions.
(b) National Consultative Committee on Industrial Research (NCCIR) is to encourage exchange of views between the public and private sectors and to facilitate feedbacks from end-users of science and technology research and Federal Ministry of Science and Technology. Membership includes representatives of banks and other financial institutions, chambers of commerce, manufacturers' associations, research institutions, universities, professional associations and relevant government agencies.
(c) National Office of Industrial Property (NOIP) was established in 1979 to:-
1. encourage more efficient process for the identification and selection of foreign technology:
2. develop skills of Nigerians entering into partnership contract with foreigners for technology transfer;
3. register all existing technology contracts in Nigeria;
4. monitor the execution of contracts registered in Nigeria;
5. survey existing technology; and
6. operate a databank on design and engineering consultancy organisations in Nigeria.
(d) State Technology Demonstration Centres (STDEC) were to be established in each state to have direct links with the Federal Ministry of Science and Technology and its agencies and with industrial organisations. Their functions were to provide extension services to industries in the local areas and establish demonstration units on selected viable technologies in critical areas of concern.
(e) Science and Technology Documentation Centre (STDC) at Abuja was also established and mandated to set up databases on various aspects of science and technology linked to Research Institutes and Universities. Its other functions include:
1. maintenance of a national science and technology library; and
2. collection, classification, storage, publication and dissemination of data on science and technology manpower available in Nigeria, Nigerians involved in science and technology internationally, science and technology project reports undertaken in Nigeria, research activities in all sectors of the economy and information on existing technologies in the key areas.
(f) Industrial Development Coordinating Committee (IDCC) was established under the Federal Ministry of Industries in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Science and Technology. The operational concepts of self-sustaining industrialisation by the IDCC include:-
1. identifying and establishing core industries;
2. reassessing industrial strategies towards a local resource-based industrialisation; and
3. creating internal engines of growth.
The IDCC, in conjunction with UNIDO, evolved the Strategic Management of Industrial Development (SMID). The framework for this SMID is the establishment of the National Committee on Industrial Development (NCID). NCID develops strategies for each sub-system before sanctioning by government and monitors implementation; progress and problems are noted and, where necessary, addressed immediately. Below the NCID are strategic consultative groups - one for each identified priority sub-system.
The Strategic Consultative Group (SCG) is made up of representatives of the various actors within the defined network of relations. Their main functions according to NCID (1990) are to:-
1. analyze the specific problems and constraints of their sub-system;
2. analyze the opportunities that exist in domestic and foreign markets;
3. develop a strategic direction for the sub-system;
4. pin-point the type of supportive programmes needed to implement the adopted strategy;
5. work out a programme of action.
(g) Co-operative arrangement was established between research institutions, universities and polytechnics.
(h) Four existing centres of excellence in technology attached to universities, i.e. Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria; Obafemi Awolowo University,Ile Ife; University of Nigeria, Nsukka, and the Uthman Danfodio University, Sokoto were established to implement R&D activities in various sectors of technological development.
Government on its part has continued to foster the growth of Science and Technology by removing some of the constraints that hamper technological development in the country. On July 18th, 1990, the National Committee on Engineering Infrastructure (NACENI) comprising 150 members drawn from State and Federal Ministries, the organised private sector, the professional organizations, higher institutions, research institutes etc, was set up.
16.0 CONCLUSION AND RECOMMENDATIONS
Since effective maintenance of any telecommunication outfits dependent on availability of spare parts, it is recommended that all future information and telecommunications projects should be aligned to provide for spare-parts production in the country. In this respect, efforts should be made to build into contract agreements on imported technologies, the possibility of Nigerians being involved in the assembly of such technologies abroad. Such involvement will allow Nigerians to gain detailed insight into the internal arrangements and working of the equipment. The maintenance schedule of any future project should be clearly assigned to Nigerians.
There is an urgent need for equipment standardisation in the country. This will ease the manufacture of spare parts and reduce maintenance cost. Also maintenance personnel should be provided with adequate tools and they should be located sufficiently close to the facilities they are to maintain. The third important consideration in the development process is the availability of core industries for the fabrication and manufacture of equipment and spare parts.
In Nigeria today we have a Federal Ministry of Science and Technology charged with the responsibility of promoting scientific and technological activities in the country. For the country to develop technologically we must all agree to use this government organ effectively. Also the Universities Research Institutes, Industries, Entrepreneurs and private organisations - all have a role to ensure that the prerequisites for meaningful technology development are available in the country.
The Recommendations for a powerful and efficient telecommunications in Nigeria can be summed up as follows:
(1) that Operation and Maintenance Strategy be premised on a structural organisation that assigns full responsibility to zonal/state administration working directly with the Central office of the administration.
(2) That the service objective shall be to provide optimum effective and efficient telecommunications service within the framework of available resources at the lowest cost.
(3) That a unified operational and maintenance pattern in the zones/states should be guaranteed by the issuance of guidelines from the Headquarters of the administration to the zones/states for compliance.
(4) That periodic returns be made at specified times from the zones/states to Headquarters for analysis and general management of overall information.
(5) The Headquarters set out a list of accepted performance indicators to which would be related the analysis of returns from the zones/states as a yardstick for measurement of activities and guide in taking decision on improvement.
(6) That a network of maintenance centres be set up as the main support to operational routine maintenance which is mainly based on replacement of modules to cut down on outage periods.
(7) That there be a National Maintenance Centre as the hierarchy, supported by zonal/state maintenance Centres and mobile units for prompt attention to remote locations.
(8) That support Services' - (Stores and Workshops) - administration and operations be structured in conformity with (1) above and easily accessible by field operation and maintenance staffs.
(9) That training in the form of Appreciation courses, Refresher courses, Skill Development, Safety, Management, Introductory courses, etc., should be intensified and programmed to suit operations and maintenance needs on a continuous basis.
(10) That records are vital Operational and Maintenance tools, be they personnel records, training records, subscribers records, Technical Handbook records, Equipment or Assets' etc. The ultimate should be a centralised computer record location from which information could be retrieved or updated on any subject matter relating to Operations and Maintenance.
(11) That in all these Operation and Maintenance Strategy processes, auditing as a vital organ to check excesses and streamline operations should be taken cognisance of Technical Audit, Store Audit and Personnel Audit shall be undertaken by the Headquarters' team periodically for accountability.
(12) That customer services locations as an all-purpose centre for Telecommunications services should be strategically located for easy reach of the public at large.
(13) That a multidisciplinary team be formed to work on the standardisation of telecommunication equipment modules, tools and test gears for operations in the Nigerian market.
(14) That the planning and Implementation groups take advantage of Operational and Maintenance group experience in finalising designs and project acceptance procedures to minimise operational and maintenance difficulties after commissioning.
It has been argued that the growth of Information Technology could both facilitate and complicate the job of governing; facilitate by making available to decision makers vastly expanded resources of timely information and complicate by vastly expanding the number of people who would be informed about important issues and who will inevitably want to play a role in deciding. However, any seeming disadvantage should be weighed against the numerous advantages derivable from its application.
The recent competitive environment of telecommunications which allows more than one field operator must of necessity attract standards and rules of operation for orderliness, effectiveness and efficiency. The flexibility of choice open to customers also call for a wide interconnecting boundary between operators and a specific level of quality of service to be attained by all to avoid harmful effects on other operators and the public being served at large. There is therefore need for an effective monitoring and enforcement mechanism in the structural frame work of managing telecommunications in a liberalised environment. Furthermore, penalties applicable to violation of rules must be commensurate and promptly applied to deter violators. The monitoring and enforcement unit could be structured within the Regulatory Institution or otherwise, such responsibility could be devolved on existing law enforcement agencies in the land. The instrument establishing the Regulatory Institution by government would, along with the statement of mission, determine the position in the hierarchy of governance where the supposedly autonomous and independent Regulatory body would be and at the same time, define specific issues to be addressed which may, or may not, include enforcement of rules and application of penalties.
It is obvious from all stated earlier, that Information Technology management in a Deregulated Telecommunications environment would primarily revolve around a strong Regulatory Institution in the nation. In a liberalised setting for competition between operators, service providers, content assemblers and disseminators as well as devices retailers and manufacturers, an independent and neutral body to set the rules of the game as well as apply and monitor them is a prerequisite in such a pluralistic scenario. There is need therefore for the following:
(1) A clear statement of mission of the Regulatory Institution by Government from the outset.
(2) A legal instrument defining the Regulator's powers, rights and obligations and equally the rights and obligations of licensees and the established Public Telecommunications Operators that are on the field.
(3) Establishment of the relative position of the regulator to other arms of Government, its linkages and working methods.
(4) Putting in place significant resources in terms of men, materials and money to enhance the Regulatory entity's performance.
The need to keep abreast with technological advancement, especially in this era of rapid obsolescence of equipment due to intensified research activities need not be emphasised. The regulatory Institution must be sufficiently equipped to carry out its Type approval Tests and standardisation functions and also be financially capable of hiring high calibre staff to perform these and other licensing functions.
The Nigerian government has a crucial role to play in nurturing rapid technology progress, as well as rapid application of new technologies in the marketplace. In the field of Information Technology, the government has to establish a clear set of national objectives - such as universal services, technological leadership and broadband capability into all population centres, through a comprehensive and up-to-date National Policy for Telecommunications and Information Technology.
Government should also promote private sector investment, continue to improve the management of radio frequency spectrum, and ensure that information resources are available to all at affordable prices. Finally, Government needs to give due consideration to the needs of the rural areas for new information services in order to reduce the incidence of rural to urban migration.
There is also a need for Standard Organizations in African countries and the rest of the key actors to liaise and strategically plan and elaborate the technical specifications of the industry.
In Europe, the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI), officially recognized by the European Union (EU) as the standards body for telecommunications, is a leader in its domain. It is also responsible for standardization in the overlapping areas in information technology and broadcasting in collaboration with other concerned organization.
The Standards Organization of Nigeria (SON), also in its own rights, is empowered among other things, to prepare standards for products and processes and to ensure compliance with the Federal Government policies on Standardization and Quality control for both locally manufactured goods and imported products throughout the country. It is noteworthy that the decree establishing the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) specifies as its function, the setting up of technical standards for the telecommunications industry. However, to ensure coordination and clarity where required, NCC relates with SON and other agencies in areas of common interest e.g. safety regulations and environmental hazards. Just as there is no single formula for the overall structure of a society or its relation to other societies, so there is no single formula for the internal structure of a national communication policy. It all depends on a country's established tradition of communication organisation, its stage of development, and what aspects of the general societal activities and goals are felt more convenient to be promoted through a deliberately designed communication policy at any particular point in time.
If there is any one guiding principle it is that national communication policies are creative activities that must respond at all time to the dynamics of their societies, to the fundamental objectives and directive principles of their states and to the particular human values that a nation wishes to project as her identifying characteristics in the community of nations. It is the lack of such a coherent set of principles and norms to guide communication systems of most developing nations, including Nigeria, that is invariably related to the inadequate development of their communicative capacities and the appropriate utilisation of the resources of modern communication for development. This is also related to some undesirable behaviour tendencies among Third World communication practitioners which often earn for them charges of lack of patriotism from their respective countries' leaders.
The current attempt by Nigeria to brace up to the need to formulate a comprehensive national communication policy should be seen not only as an effort to come to grips with the myriad of problems of socio-economic development, structural imbalances and integration of its multi-religious population into the mainstream of the life of the nation, but perhaps, equally important it is an effort to exploit its rich but latent communicative resources to forge a credible and potent foreign relations.
A comprehensive National Policy must address itself to matters relating to the following communication sub-systems and other media-related matters in order to arrive at a coordinated, coherent statement that embraces all the constituents of the system as a whole;
1. The print media - newspapers, magazines, books.
2. The electronic media - radio, television, video, cinema, other audiovisual materials and information.
3. Telecommunications - the telephone; satellite broadcasting.
4. The traditional media - the drums, the theatre, folk opera, singers, traditional festivals, the market, etc.
5. Others - libraries, communication training, News Agencies, Regional/International co-operation, etc.
Policy objectives will have to be determined on the basis of answers supplied to such issues raised in respect to the different media.
Dr. G.A. Alabi March 1996
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