UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA - AFRICAN STUDIES CENTER
2.6.1 INTRODUCTION: SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY POLICY
184.108.40.206 DEVELOPMENT POLICY
In Senegal the main directions, the objectives and the areas of priority action of economic and social development policy have always been subject to planning. Since 1960 eight plans have been implemented.
Characteristically, Senegalese planning has been imperative in sectors where government intervention predominates, and inspirational in sectors with majority private participation, such as industry and tourism.
Economic indicators confirm that 1979 was a turning point in the economic and financial history of the country. A diagnosis of the situation brought to light a certain number of fundamental problems which called for a new economic policy.
The current Plan, the eighth, not only prescribes reform and adjustment programmes for the medium and long term (1985-1992) but also envisages the socio-economic conditions of Senegal in the year 2015. They are characterized by the following salient features:
- Economic and financial reform within the framework of a clearly defined medium term, coherent and planned policy;
- Planned adjustment to stimulate the productive dynamism of the country by addressing institutional bottlenecks.
- Growth of production on more solid foundations by harnessing human resources and by a policy of distributing revenue so as to encourage productive work, reward initiative and reduce regional disparities.
- Emphasis on the value of individual effort and collective autonomous organization, and on the development and support of agro-industrial innovation.
These historical and socio-economic conditions affecting science and technology policy have governed the needs to be satisfied and the problems to be solved.
220.127.116.11 DEVELOPMENT POLICY AND SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY POLICY
Since 1969 Senegal has proclaimed the objective of joining the ranks of the semi-industrialized countries by the year 2000 - the final year of the Ninth Development Plan. This arduous task could not be accomplished without taking into account elements of science and technology, the main engines of development.
Senegal also integrates into its development strategy an orientation of programmes and research projects towards the satisfaction of human needs by stressing the human dimension and the importance of the new information technology, which has gained momentum by the convergence of informatics and telecommunications.
2.6.2 .INFORMATICS DEVELOPMENT POLICY
18.104.22.168 HISTORY OF INFORMATICS IN SENEGAL
The first data processing configuration in Senegal was installed 1 August 1948 at the National Institute of Statistics and Economic Research (Institut National de Statistiques et d'Etudes Economiques, INSEE), a French organization for statistical and economic research in France and the Overseas Territories. The configuration, installed as an experiment comprised:
- wired boards,called tabulators;
- a printer;
- perforators (key punches);
- collators (interpolators);
The main applications were for customs statistics and the processing of demographic census data from the former French West African countries.
The data processing of the civil service payroll was achieved only in 1953, when the centre was transferred to the Administrative Building, headquarters of the French West African Government.
After INSEE it was the turn of the Senegalese State Railway Company to acquire conventional data processing machines.
The slide from data processing into informatics was manifested by the gradual substitution of computers for conventional data processors. The introduction of computers into public administration and into the banking sector led to the automation of accounting procedures and payrolls. Thus the Ministry of Finance and the National Development Bank of Senegal, with the assistance of the International Company for Business Organization (SociÈtÈ Internationale d'Organisation), a French company offering information technology services, provided a plan for computer hardware and various applications in accounting etc.
At the Ministry of Finance the centre then called AndrÈ Peytavin Accounting Centre (Centre Comptable AndrÈ Peytavin) gradually developed applications for Payroll, Taxation, Customs, management of files of expenditure on equipment, housing etc. This evolution in the number and variety of applications was parallelled by a swift development in hardware.
A similar development took place at the Centre for Public Institutions (Centre des Etablissements Publics), the second government computer centre, with similar hardware and staffed mainly by technical assistants from SINORG. A result of these activities was on the job training of the first Senegalese programmers as from 1967/68.
Several years later the private sector felt the urgent need to flirt with computers, so as not to miss the second technological revolution. Companies such as SENELEC, Fiduciaire, SONNEES, as well as banks, insurance companies and other industries acquired high performance computers and gradually came to establish their own computer centres.
It would seem that, until 1970, the Senegalese informatics environment was based on large systems located in a few government centres and in the parastatal sector. it is at this time that the big computer manufacturers such as IBM, Bull, Burroughs, which became UNISYS, established themselves in Senegal.
The 1980s decade, noted for the micro-computer explosion, saw the advent of numerous computer services companies and training schools. The first micro-computers appeared in Senegal in 1981 and used the CPM operating system. The establishment, in 1987, of the Office for Computer Development (DÈlÈgation [[daggerdbl]] l'Informatique, DINFO) facilitated the strategic development of informatics. The following important projects were launched:
- Land Taxation Survey aimed at increasing the rate of recovery of land tax by a quantitative and qualitative improvement in output and in the system of distributing tax notifications;
- Automation of personnel administration, with the aim of managing automatically in a single file the pay, administrative, and current management decisions relating to staff of user ministries;
- Automation and archiving on optical numeric disk, of data held by the Registrar General;
- Automated management of customs transactions, dealing with customs clearance and manifests.
This information technology explosion took place in the public, parastatal and private sectors, and resulted in the installation of a host of automatic dispensers and widespread office automation.
In the current context of government modernisation a number of projects aim at the improvement and better use of communications technology, namely:
- The inter-departmental network of communication channels and data;
- National Network of Scientific and Technical Information, a system of scientific and technical information exchange and dissemination. Its development led to the creation of data bases in the fields of agriculture, industry, trade, transport and administration;
- Videotex applications in certain ministries on an experimental basis (Tourism, Justice, Education etc.);
The total complement of computers in Senegal today is estimated at one thousand minis and mainframes, and 12,000 micros. Growth is very rapid and is estimated at 2500 units a year. (See Annex B for the results of research on the informatics potential)
22.214.171.124.b) INFORMATICS POLICY
126.96.36.199.1 Cornerstones of Internal Policy
Although national action on computerization goes back to the beginnings of independence, the crucial year was 1972, when the National Informatics Committee was formed. It was responsible for formulating and coordinating national policy. Internally this policy produced various plans and standards; externally it led to active participation in various organizations and committees at continental and international levels.
The following cornerstones of internal policy will be examined in turn:
- Automation of the main functions of government;
- Education and training;
- Promotion of indigenous computer services companies;
- Promotion and management of government informatics personnel;
- Promotion of informatics in development sectors;
- Definition of strategic aims in the parastatal sector;
- Enactment of legislation on informatics.
a) Automation of the main functions of government
Informatics, if only used as an auxiliary to administrative procedures, risks being downgraded and deprived of its incomparable role as a management tool. Administration of development implies that the Government does not confine itself to sound financial management of the public and parastatal sectors, but accepts responsibility for the most fundamental functions necessary for development.
In response to this concern the government initiated an Informatics Master Plan in 1979, which, in its first phase, analyzed the then existing Senegalese information system. The analytical method consisted of a break down of the system into sub-systems and groups of entities, such as:
- Ground,superstructure and networks
- Individuals and corporate bodies
- Goods and services
- Science and technology
For each group the following aspects were considered:
- Duties of the administration
- Management practices
- Nodes (agencies)
The second phase was devoted to the establishment of an administrative data bank, by integrating the results of computerizing the functions mentioned above. The objectives of the data bank were, among others:
- Development of a governmental systems chart;
- Development of a systems chart for public enterprises;
- Provision for users from all sectors information and data of which they were previously unaware;
Among the projects implemented under the 1979 Master Plan were:
The informatics component of the National Land Management Plan and the updating of village files;
Development of the files on individuals and computerization of national identity cards.
b) Education and training
The October 1985 meeting of the National Informatics Committee took note of the activities undertaken in this field and prepared the ground for future policy. Action was anticipated in the following areas:
- Professional education;
- Continuing education;
- Popularization of informatics.
In terms of research there was a project to launch an Institute of Applied Mathematics and Informatics with the following mission:
- To promote the transfer of knowledge and skills in applied informatics to the socio-economic sectors;
- To experiment with new applications to meet the specific needs of the country's social and economic development.
- To train Senegalese information scientists in advanced techniques by means of courses, colloquia, seminars, study tours etc;
- To participate in a worldwide network of centres of information technology, facilitating the exchange and dissemination of experience.
- To keep up with developments in informatics throughout the world by the establishment of a documentation centre on the main areas of informatics research and applications.
Unfortunately this university level institute did not materialize. However, its mission was in part achieved, as will be seen later, by the introduction of a Master's degree in informatics and later of a Diploma of Advanced Studies (DiplÙme d'Etudes Approfondies, DEA)
With regard to professional education the following steps were taken:
- Opening of an engineering programme at the National University of Technology (Ecole Nationale SupÈrieure Universitaire de Technologie, ENSUT) in 1988/89.
- Establishment of an Informatics Master's degree course and of a DEA in Informatics at the Faculty of Sciences of the Cheikh Anta Diop University, Dakar.
- Opening in 1990 of the University of Saint-Louis, wherea Department of Informatics and Applied Mathematics was established.
Several centres provide training. At the Ministry of Economy and Finance there is a centre in the Department of Automation of Information, another at the African Centre for Higher Education in Management, and another at ENSUT, the main institution for initial computer training. In addition there are a few private schools which offer informatics training for programmers and program analysts.
The following initiatives were taken to increase awareness of informatics:
- To standardize informatics education, modules were introduced into the courses of higher education institutions.
- The use of computers and the Logo language was extended as a teaching tool in elementary, middle and secondary school. This initiative led to the Project for the Introduction of Informatics into the Educational System (Projet d'Introduction de l'Informatique dans le SyustËme Educatif, PIISE)
- Launching of an operation named "200 microcpmputers" intended to be a plan to provide computers for secondary schools and colleges.
c)Promotion of indigenous computer services and consultancy companies
A policy was considered necessary because this type of company was believed to be an important catalyst for computerization, for the emergence of indigenous expertise and for the transfer of technology. The following measures were taken in October 1985:
- In the new Investment Code the informatics sector was given priority status.
- Government contracts were regulated to guarantee widespread access to indigenous computer services companies.
d) Promotion and conditions of service of government informatics personnel
The components of informatics policy mentioned above can be implemented only if the Government has at its disposal a significant body of experts who can be entrusted, on the one hand, with carrying out the applications and, on the other, with leading advocacy and coordination missions. This presupposes an adequate staffing structure for government informatics personnel. A first step was taken in 1980 when recruitment, pay and conditions of service for such workers were laid down. Further measures are under consideration, whose main purpose is:
- to ensure more rigorous management of government and agency informatics personnel by a detailed and thorough definition of the competence, experience and responsibilities of each employee, according to his grade.
- to ensure centralised control of government and agency informatics organs so as to guarantee a match between the skills required for a task and the qualifications of the person performing it.
e) Strategic policy stones for the parastatal sector
The Government has for some years been carrying out a policy of reform of the parastatal sector by withdrawing progressively from certain activities. Relations between Government and enterprises are to be governed by contract, where this is not already the case. Management is to be given increased authority and greater autonomy. Accordingly, while no longer involving itself in the internal management of enterprises, the Government retains the means of regular a posteriori control.
Intervention has been mainly at the behest of the enterprises themselves, for technical assistance in whatever area is required, notably when management and informatics play and essential role. The current reform has an important informatics aspect, the aims of which correspond to those of the reform as a whole, namely:
- Strengthening the autonomy of enterprises;
- A posteriori control of the parastatal sector;
- Government technical assistance for parastatal enterprises in management and informatics.
The strategic guidelines which emerge in this sector are based on the master plans of all enterprises wishing to computerize, with the endorsement and advice of the agency responsible for informatics policy at national level.
f) Examination of legislation on informatics.
At the time this study was conducted there had as yet been no action in this area. Annexes C and D offer an outline of what a policy on legislation might contain.
188.8.131.52.2 Cornerstones of Regional and International Cooperation
Senegal has always maintained a policy of active regional and international cooperation, as can be seen from the following initiatives:
- Participation in the establishment, in 1971, of the African Informatics Institute (Institut African d'Informatique, IAI) at Libreville, in the context of OCAM (Organisation Commune Africaine et Malgache). This Institute, which at first trained only program analysts, launched a computer engineering course three years ago;
- Membership, since 1975, of the Intergovernmental Bureau for Informatics (Bureau Intergouvernemental pour l'Informatique, IBI). Until its dissolution in 1987, Senegal hosted the Regional Francophone Africa Centre of this organization;
- Within the framework of IBI Senegal participated in the first Intergovernmental Conference on Strategies and Policies on Informatics (SPIN I) held at Toremolinos (Spain) in 1978, and in 1982 Dakar hosted the regional meeting of sub-Saharan countries in preparation for SPIN 83;
- Participation in the establishment, in 1985, at Yamoussoukro (CÙte d'Ivoire), of a group by that name. The group comprises representatives of Benin, Ghana, Tanzania, Gabon, Madagascar, Senegal and CÙte d'Ivoire, as well as aid organizations (IBI).The main aim of this group is to contribute to the implementation of the Lagos Plan of Action by working out a strategy for the use of information and telecommunication technologies;
- Senegal played a key role in the implementation of the RINAF Project for linking African academic institutions, which was initiated in Dakar in 1992, with the participation of some twenty countries, under the aegis of the UNESCO Intergovernmental Informatics Programme;
- Lastly, Senegal participates in the network of the Centre for the Exchange of Computerized Data for Investment, Trade and Technology, established within the framework of the Group of 15 (G15), with headquarters at Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Thus, at the summit meeting of Heads of State and Government of the G15 member states held in Dakar in 1992, Senegal demonstrated to the Heads of State off-site interrogation of data banks and bases. Thanks to its potential in informatics and its modern telecommunications infrastructure Senegal is already in the position of a privileged partner in the field of information exchange.
184.108.40.206 COMPUTERIZATION AGENCIES
Included here are the agencies involved in the use of informatics: coordination, advocacy, education and training, development of applications and processing, provision of equipment and technical support.
220.127.116.11.1 Coordination and Promotion
The National Informatics Committee (ComitÈ National Informatique, CNI), established in 1972, is the main agency for coordination and promotion of informatics in Senegal. The CNI is responsible for the coordinated development of informatics policy mentioned above. Until 1985, the date of the last meeting, the chairmanship of the CNI was provided by the General Secretariat of the Presidency of the Republic.
The Organization and Methods Bureau (Bureau Organisation et MÈthodes, BOM) of the Presidency of the Republic provided the permanent secretariat of the CNI. Its main executive organ was the Department of Automatic Data Processing of Information (Direction du Traitement Automatique de l'Information, DTAI) of the Ministry of Economy and Finance. With the disappearance of BOM and the establishment, in 1987, of DINFO, informatics policy and computerisation were transferred to this agency, whose advent constitutes a qualitative improvement in the management of the socio-economic programme of Senegal.
18.104.22.168.2 Training, Education and Research
Until 1990 the only government education agency was the above- mentioned ENSUT, which trains program analysts to the level of a University Diploma in Technology (DiplÙme Universitaire en Technologie, DUT). As already noted, other informatics courses are in operation at Senegal's two universities.
The vast majority of high level professionals are trained abroad, mainly in France and at the IAI in Libreville (see Human Potential in Annex B). It should, however, be noted that the CNI had in the past organized special training courses for engineers within DTAI; some ten engineers were thus trained in two batches in 1975 and 1980.
Research is at present non-existent. This situation is likely to change as a result of the ENSUT and University of Dakar engineering programmes.
22.214.171.124.3 Data Processing or Computer Centres
The main centres are government run and comprise:
- DTAI. This is by far the most important centre. Its computer resources and human potential make it one of the foremost centres in Africa.
- Department of Computerization of Files (Direction de l'Automatisation de Fichiers, DAF) of the Ministry of Interior
- Customs Centre, which houses the most powerful government computers. The operating systems of the DTAI and Customs are to be upgraded from MVS/SP to MVS/ESA.
- National Centre for Scientific and Technical Documentation (Centre National de Documentation Scientifique et Technique, CNDST) also the national focal point of international networks of information exchange.
- Dakar-Thiaroye Centre for Oceanographic Research (Centre de Recherche OcÈanographique de Dakar-Thiaroye, CRODT). This is the main focus of development of informatics research, in cooperation with the French Institute for Aid to Scientific Research (Institut FranÁais de la Recherche Scientifique en CoopÈration, ORSTOM)
126.96.36.199.4 Suppliers of Computer Equipment
Representatives of the main computer and microcomputer manufacturers operate in Senegal, some having done so for several decades. There are about fifteen of them, beside some dealers. They sell their very latest products, which are installed without difficulty and come into operation in Senegal at the same time as elsewhere in the world.
- 1980: Installation of the IBM 43XX at the National Development Bank of Senegal;
- 1982: Operation of the IBM MVS system at the DTAI, the first of its kind in Africa;
- 1985: Installation of Bull microprocessor application cards for the automation of customs procedures;
- 1990: Operation of the RISC 6000 IBM within the framework of the project for a National Network of Scientific and Technical Information (RÈseau National d'Information Scientifique et Technique, RNIST).
188.8.131.52.5 Computer services bureaux and consultancy services (SociÈtes de Services et de Conseil en Informatique, SSCI)
A study undertaken in 1990 for DINFO, revealed the following information:
- About 15 companies active in this sector have a local base.
- Others, without a local base, operate on the basis of contracts, sometimes in association with local companies
- These companies offer the following services:
* Data processing based on machine hours
* Implementaion of applications
* Education and training
184.108.40.206.6 Computer Associations and Clubs
Most of these subscribe to the same objectives, namely:
- Raising awareness of informatics
- User education
- Technological development and keeping a watching brief on the state-of-the-art.
Among the most active of these are:
- Association of Microcomputer Clubs of Senegal;
- Association of Alumni of IAI;
- Association of Alumni of ENSUT;
- Youth Association for the Development of Informatics in Senegal.
220.127.116.11 INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY APPLICATIONS
At the national level applications can be considered under three headings
- Scientific research
- Technical applications
This is the most developed area, not only in our country. Such applications can be found in the public, parastatal and private sectors. In the parastatal and private sectors, applications are the standard ones, of no special complexity: accounting, payroll, invoicing, stock management.
The most significant and complex applications occur in the government sector. They draw from a variety of management information systems to examine specific management situations. This is done in the main administrative centre.
In the parastatal sector there are servers which use conventional management applications, with the NOVELL network. The present tendency is to move towards the UNIX operating system and the management systems of relational data bases.
Among the major users of management applications are the Ministry of Economy and Finance and the Ministry of Interior.
18.104.22.168.2 Scientific Research
The main user of this type of application is the Senegalese Institute of Agricultural Research (ISRA), with its various centres and aid agencies such as ORSTOM and PIISE.
Among other major users are CRODT, the Bambey Centre for Agronomic Research, (CNRA), and the National Cattle Breeding and Veterinary Research Centre.
22.214.171.124.3 Technical Applications
By technical informatics is meant applications used in developing other techniques. This includes applications in teledetection, meteorology, energy and water management.
126.96.36.199 FUNDING OF INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY
The Government is the principal informatics consumer and the main source of funds in this sector. However the resources allocated by the Government are meagre and there is a dearth of external assistance.
At national level there are two sources of finance for informatics projects: The Fund for the Encouragement of Scientific and Technical Research (FIRST), and the investment budget through the Triennial Programme of Public Investment (PTIP).
FIRST's objectives are:
- To encourage basic and applied research;
- To support Senegalese scientific and technical institutions which follow programmes geared to socio-economic development, or to improving technology;
- To provide material and financial help to research units and institutions in such areas as agriculture and food technology;
- To disseminate and make use of research results;
- To create awareness of technological innovation;
FIRST's resources stem mainly from credits in the national budget to the tune of 100 million cfa francs a year. Since 1982 about 15 million have been allocated to informatics and education. This seems insufficient in relation to FIRST's objectives, but is justified in that there is practically no informatics research in Senegal.
As a result of the economic crisis of the 1970s the Government introduced a structural adjustment programme. Economic policy was directed towards increasing the efficiency of a free market economy and ensuring that resources were directed to the most productive sector and to the most promising investments.
National planning policy was based on two instruments:
- A prognostic study spanning one generation, commenting retrospectively on Senegalese society 1960-1988, and looking ahead to the year 2015;
- A medium term socio-economic plan, setting out a six year strategy, to be reviewed after three years.
PTIP is the means of developing project programming in conformity with the strategies laid down in the National Development Plan.
Since 1989, when PTIP was established, the informatics sector has benefited from a cumulative total of 541 million francs cfa out of an investment budget of about 33 billion.
For information, when the National Informatics Committee was formed, the informatics budget was fixed at 1% of the national budget.
2.6.3 ANALYSIS OF THE PRESENT SITUATION
The informatics situation in Senegal shows clearly that the constraints which hinder the coordinated development of information technology are closely linked to the current economic milieu of the country and to the transfer of technology by means of the following instruments of computerization:
* Informatics policy and its development plan;
* The coordinating mechanisms of information policy;
* Promotion mechanisms;
* Research, education and training mechanisms;
* Computer engineering companies;
As for human resources, ENSUT is the main institution providing education and training. Whereas until 1988 only program analysts were trained, subsequently computer engineering education was introduced. High level specialists are now educated at Saint-Louis and Dakar universities.
Meagre financial resources are made available through FIRST and PTIP. External funding is weak and is limited to microcomputer equipment and some training.
Only a few computer services and consultancy companies are in business, and these are often not familiar with the latest technology. Prior research is often skimped.
In the parastatal sector anarchy prevails. There are often poor outcomes because the directing agency of informatics policy responsible for advising such enterprises is not aware of their plans of action.
A further problem is maintenance. Equipment obtained through foreign aid, such as Commodity Aid, for the universities and ministries, has no provision for maintenance contracts beyond the normal equipment guarantee period, or that of the aid project.
In all, an analysis of the informatics scientific and technical potential reveals structural deficiencies, considerable human potential, but weakness at the higher levels, and almost non-existent funding.
The programme developing at DINFO is likely to stimulate the country's progress in informatics.
188.8.131.52 INFORMATICS IN THE PARASTATAL SECTOR
Consultations among DINFO, the former General Commissariat of the Parastatal Sector and representatives of the enterprises themselves have led to their classification into three groups:
- Enterprises unable to bear the costs of computerization on their own;
- Non-computerized enterprises which are able to mange the costs of their own computerization;
- Enterprises which are already computerized, or are in process of computerization.
For the first group a service and operating centre dedicated to the parastatal sector should be established; for the second, an autonomous informatics centre is needed; for the third, there should be a permanent adaptation of information technology to the real and evolving needs of the enterprise.
Some enterprises have gone ahead with investments in computer technology without consulting DINFO, or ignoring its advice, with dire consequences.
To conclude, investment had not been very profitable: costs have been exorbitant and computerization has miscarried or been inadequate.
184.108.40.206 HUMAN RESOURCES
As noted above, until 1990 ENSUT was the main training institution. Courses at the two universities are undoubtedly now contributing to the pool of information workers.
However, despite the quality of the training given, there is not, as yet, enough emphasis on research. High level computer engineers do not find enough scope for the kind of work for which they are qualified. It is hoped that an eventual doctorate programme (Doctorat du 3Ëme cycle) at Dakar University will encourage research.
Government is presently the main employer of information workers. However, there have been many resignations as staff have been attracted by higher salaries in the private sector. In 1985 the Government responded by offering better pay and conditions to such personnel, and further improvements are under consideration.
The Government is also studying ways of encouraging the standardization of courses offered by private institutions. A Higher Technician Diploma (Brevet de Technicien SupÈrieur, BTS) is at the planning stages.
220.127.116.11 COMPUTER SERVICES AND CONSULTANCY COMPANIES
Because of an open door policy towards foreign companies there is no institutional method of monitoring the volume and nature of foreign investments in Senegal. However, because of the strategic nature of information technology the Government has taken the following decisions in support of indigenous computer services companies:
- Revision of investment criteria, giving priority status to information technology.
- Regulation of government contracts to allow local companies better access.
It would appear that managers of SSCI18.104.22.168.22.214.171.124s consider that these measures, praiseworthy and justified though they are, have not achieved the desired results, for the following reasons:
- The measures promulgated in support of SSCIs were never implemented;
- Informatics are considered luxury products, hence hardware, software and registration fees are heavily taxed. (Hardware is taxed at 100%)
One of the main complaints of the SSCIs concerns the manner in which government contracts are awarded, especially the required deposit, fixed at 5 million cfa francs, and the delay in reimbursing companies which made unsuccessful bids.
Furthermore invoices due to SSCIs are not promptly paid, and their obligations to banks are not respected if it is a matter of government commitments.
The informatics business is valued at several billion francs cfa a year. Apart from the public sector, the main clients are banks and financial companies. These are mostly subsidiaries of foreign, mainly French firms, which bring in French SSCIs for the computerization of their Senegalese subsidiaries.
The situation does not encourage the emergence of indigenous SSCIs, especially in the current economic climate. There is a noticeable decline in their number, characterized by defaulting on payments, leading inevitably to company closures.
We believe that the SSCIs, in the context of a developing country and taking into account the emergence of new information technology, constitute an essential channel for the transfer of technology. Particular attention should therefore be paid to them.
2.6.4 GENERAL GUIDELINES
Today, when we have arrived at the apex of the era of industrial technology, we are on the threshold of a veritable post-industrial revolution under the powerful impact of informatics and biotechnology.
Mastery of the new computer based technology becomes a necessity if Senegal is not to remain a permanent consumer of technology, having a negative impact on the country's balance of payments.
Ever more sophisticated and specific techniques enable us to introduce information technology into most sectors of activity, especially:
- Telematics and data bases for management
- Computer assisted design techniques (XAO)
- Artificial intelligence applications with expert systems in medicine, agriculture, etc.
The emergence of XAO artificial intelligence techniques seem to us to be the most significant phenomenon since the invention of computers.
In view of the inevitability of computerization of today's companies, Senegal should direct all efforts to the acquisition and use of information technology by means of technology transfer.
It is obvious, in this context, that information policy in Senegal should be directed towards mastery of the various factors linked to technology transfer.
The strategic pillars of the overall policy should be:
1. Education of high level specialists, and hence the establishment of a teaching and research institution such as the Informatics and Applied Mathematics Research Institute, which never saw the light of day;
2. Strengthening and extension of PIISE;
3. Promotion of expert systems in medicine, agriculture and new and renewable energy;
4. Definition of a new policy of assistance to indigenous computer services and engineering companies. Such assistance should be in contractual form to ensure that:
- The activities of these companies encourage the emergence of local expertise;
- This expertise is directed towards the mastery of the new information technology (telematics, networks, relational data bases, various methodologies etc.)
Concerning the parastatal sector in particular, a sector which is crucial for the economy, and to put an end to wasted expenditure on computerization, the following measures could be considered:
- Strengthening or confirmation of the regulatory mechanisms which confer certain prerogatives on DINFO;
- Association of technical ministries such as the Ministry of Modernization and Technology with the boards of directors of major public enterprises;
- Establishment of a Centre for Computer Services and Development for wages and accountancy, exclusively dedicated to the parastatal sector;
- Establishment of a Steering Committee to coordinate the converging activities of the DINFO and the organism responsible for the reform of the parastatal sector.
2.6.5 EVALUATION OF THE INSTRUMENTS OF INFORMATICS POLICY
126.96.36.199 NATIONAL INFORMATICS COMMITTEE (CNI)
Since its establishment, the CNI has been the main instrument of regulation and monitoring of informatics policy. Its duties were:
- To formulate information technology, management and network policy and strategy and to coordinate projects and their implementation. To this end:
- To define the framework within which computerization progresses in government and parastatal institutions; to monitor the coherence of information systems and decide priorities and the allocation of resources of all kinds and origins; to approve programmes for equipment and informatics services of government and parastatal organisms;
- To take measures to promote and oversee the development of informatics in the economy and in society;
- To monitor the development of human resources in informatics.
The Chairperson of the CNI is the Secretary General of the Presidency of the Republic and its members are the Ministers of Economy and Finance, Planning and Foreign Assistance, Communications, the Civil Service and Labour. Heads of academic institutions and informatics centres may be invited to attend meetings.
The following are major decisions or measures promulgated by the CNI:
- Definition of a framework for development of indigenous computer services and consultancy companies;
- Upgrading of career prospects of informatics personnel;
- Refurbishment of the government information technology park;
- Pegging the informatics budget to 1% of the national budget.
The CNI, until its last meeting in 1985, carried out its role satisfactorily. However, in some cases its decisions did not lead to concrete action. This was the case with measures taken to help indigenous SSCIs, in difficulties because of the economic climate.
Furthermore, unfortunately the CNI has not met since 1985. The time since then has no doubt been used to consider how to increase the effectiveness of the national informatics policy. The establishment of DINFO in 1987 was one step in this direction.
188.8.131.52 OFFICE FOR COMPUTER DEVELOPMENT (DELEGATION A L'INFORMATIQUE, DINFO)
DINFO, established in 1987, is an inter-departmental service attached to the General Secretariat of the Presidency. The Head of DINFO presents to the President an annual report on the informatics situation in the country. DINFO's principal function is to formulate information policy, and after approval, to implement it. (See in Annex A the terms of reference and organization of DINFO)
184.108.40.206.1 Projects in Progress
National Network of Scientific and Technical Information (RÈseau National d'Information Scientifique et Technique, RNIST)
RNIST aims to provide Senegal with a vast automated network for the collection, processing and dissemination of scientific and technical information.
A partially decentralised architecture has been adopted, built on a meshed network around a central server housed at the National Centre for Scientific and Technical Documentation (CNDST). It is intended to put at the disposal of the general public multidisciplinary data banks, conceived and developed in tandem with existing sectoral networks corresponding to priority areas of the economy.
Project for the Introduction of Informatics into the Educational System (Projet d'Indroduction de l'Informatique dans le SystËme Educatif, PIISE).
PIISE's aims are:
- To be a catalyst for innovation in education at all levels, through research and development of computer teaching aids;
- To train trainers in the use of microcomputers for computer assisted learning;
- To evaluate courseware according to an evaluation grid to be tailored to Senegalese requirements;
- To establish computer education programmes;
- To control the process of introducing information technology into the educational system.
Inter-ministerial Network of Voice and Data (RÈseau Inter- administratif de Voix et DonnÈes
The main objective of the Private Inter-departmental Communications Network (RÈseau PrivÈ de TÈlÈcommunications Inter-Administratif) is to improve inter-departmental communications at no additional cost. The aim is to offer all government agencies a dedicated system of telecommunications with good traffic flow. It should also improve the availability of public lines of telecommunication, allowing users faster access to government offices.
This network will be a communications tool offering an electronic message system and access to data bases. The topology is articulated round a central node situated at the seat of Government, to which five secondary centres will be connected.
Civil registry and modernisation of the great State registers
Some government agencies are the custodians of important information which must be permanently stored. This applies to the Registry of Births, Marriages and Deaths, and the Land Registry. These have, over time, accumulated a gnificant body of information in paper format.
To preserve this rich resource, which is fast deteriorating, as a relult of heavy use and the vagaries of climate, DINFO is taking advantage of the new information technology to initiate a major project of electronic archiving on optical numeric disk at the Rufisque Civil Registry Office. This experimental project falls within the framework of modernization of the great registers of State. The objectives of this programme are:
- To halt the degradation of State registers;
- To improve the quality of public service;
- To make better use of staff time.
This project is of interest also to planners in other branches of Government who hold vast quantities of documents and face problems of preservation and exploitation.
With promising results emerging from Rufisque it is intended to consolidate by exploiting the holdings in practice at the counter. It is hoped to raise the project to national level, providing all provincial capitals with a computerised centre of civil registration and by providing the National Registry with a system enabling it to centralise all civil status data.
Land Taxation Register
In the context of the policy to improve mechanisms for the mobilization of resources, Senegal has for some years been pursuing an extensive programme to establish a Land Taxation Register intended to improve considerably the land tax base and tax retrieval.
Modern methods are being used to establish the base. These range from aerial photography to representation in digital format, by way of ground surveys, dimensional models,and mailing. It should eventually bring about a quantitative and qualitative improvement in procedures and thence in tax receipts. With this tool local authorities will be able to:
- Obtain a more comprehensive census of properties;
- Determine the composition of areas and evaluate them;
- Identify exactly the person responsible for the tax.
Preservation and appreciation of the cultural heritage
This project aims to preserve and increase appreciation of the value of ancient documents, in view of the massive documentary deposits preserved under difficult conditions by the Research Institute of Black Africa (Institut Fondamental d'Afrique Noire, IFAN) and the National Archives, institutions which previously held a sub-regional brief. A centre for conservation, dissemination and consultation, using the new technology, would enable academic staff and research workers from Senegal and other former AOF countries to have easier access to their common heritage.
Optic technology has opened the way to computer facilities of enormous capacity and longer life span. Faced with the need for mass archiving and conservation, and given the slow access afforded by present means, as well as the alarming rate of deterioration of paper records, new solutions have been devised. They integrate information technology, digitalization, and the optical numeric disk. These new technologies, along with the development of telecommunications networks, augur well for the future. The pilot scanning experiment of the civil register gave convincing results, exceeding all expectations.
220.127.116.11.2 International Cooperation Projects
The Network for the Exchange of Information among Institutions in Africa (RÈseau d'Echanges entre Institutions en Afrique) aims to help African countries to overcome obstacles to the flow of scientific, technical, economic and cultural information. It will promote exchanges among universities, research institutes etc., by inter- computer communication. Priority is to be given to existing data networks by developing communication interfaces. There are to be five African regional nodes: North, West, Central, East and South, the regional nodes being located respectively in Algeria, Senegal, Nigeria, Kenya and Zimbabwe.
The Centre for the Exchange of Computerized Data on Investment, Trade and Technology (Centre d'Echange de DonnÈes InformatisÈes en MatiËre d'Investissement, de Commerce et de Technologie), aims to promote economic development in the South.
The main objectives are:
- To provide an information data base and information services on the economic climate, markets, products, research results, essential resources, organizations and other data needed for investment, trade and technology in G15 member countries;
- To provide negotiated access to relevant data from other countries;
- to promote the use of an information system for exchanges between member countries of SITTDEC by providing technical assistance, training and consultancy services;
- to organize exchange of experience programmes on the use of information systems through seminars etc;
- To provide expert consultancy services to member countries in cooperation with national correspondents, which are organizations designated by Governments, and are responsible for the collection and dissemination of the relevant information.
The central site of the information network is in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The focal point in Senegal is the National Society for Industrial Research and Promotion (SociÈtÈ Nationale d'Etudes et de Promotion Insdustrielle, SONEPI).
SITTDEC is an opening to the outside world of RNIST, which is being established, and jointly steered by DINFO and CNDST.
Senegal thus makes a considerable technical contribution to SITTDEC, because of the convergence of its objectives with those of CNDST. Senegal will be able to access, in real time, data bases situated in any G15 country.
Because appropriate technological choices have been made, Senegal is able to tap external markets within and outside SITTDEC to promote the services of the country's computer engineering and telecommunication companies.
18.104.22.168.3 Promotion of New Services
A "Gateway" is a centre of advanced telecommunications used for the exploitation of information processing services. It attracts customers because of low charges and high quality service, and suppliers by the opening it provides to the outside world. This "open door" for exports has been made possible by the designation of a reliable specialized communications zone which is cheap in the exporting country. The gateway must satisfy commercial ends, measurable in terms of jobs created, foreign currency earned and technology transferred.
The advantages of Senegal with regard to this project are its key geographical location for contacts between Africa and America, and its connections with the whole of West Africa. With its efficient telecommunications infrastructure, considered among the best in Africa, Senegal should be able to play a pioneering role in the computer services trade on the African continent.
This project is still at the preliminary, market research stage. Integrated in the services offered by the Dakar Technopole (see below), the "Gateway" should be useful for Senegalese computer services companies, which wouldfind,through it, a way of exploiting their capabilities in an international setting, accessible because of the extraordinary advances of telecommunications.
The Dakar Technopole Project aims to create and organize an economic space where the speculative intelligence of the designer can come face to face with the practical intelligence of the entrepreneur. This new economic institution will participate in the development of a dynamic private sector by creating an economic and technological environment oriented towards creativity, innovation and the creation of wealth, leading to stable employment.
The activities of the Technopole will be of four kinds:
- An agro-food complex;
- An environment and energy complex;
- A complex for service and animation;
- A telecommunications and information technology complex, comprising a telecommunications centre, the Telecommunications Ecole SupÈrieure, and the Gateway Project, in connection with the establishment of an advanced telecommunications zone.
In general, there is an impressive degree of computerisation in the public, parastatal and private sectors. The establishment of DINFO, under whose aegis the above-mentioned projects were implemented, demonstrates the correctness of the political choices and options which led to its establishment, and justifies the role it plays in providing the impetus for, and more efficient coordination of, informatics activities.
Difficulties engendered by proposed or programmed activities have arisen essentially from the scarcity and paucity of government resources, so that the wherewithal to carry out the planned policy is not always available.
Computer professionals are competent but few in number; research and education institutions are limited or non-existent. Computer services bureaux and consultancy services are of a high standard, but have insufficient state support. There are numerous distributors and the big equipment manufacturers have agencies or subsidiary branches in Senegal.
This dynamic situation has led, in the last few years, to the flowering of specialized informatics associations, which has enabled DINFO to refine its plan to raise user, especially young user. awareness of the advantages of the latest techniques.
22.214.171.124 TECHNOLOGY TRANSFER AND AWARENESS OF THE STATE-OF-THE- ART
The world is witnessing mutations unprecedented in the history of technological invention. These mutations, which have left their imprint on our era, are propelled by the double shock of informatics and telecommunications. New technologies have modified the process of production, shaken up educational systems and completely overturned people's cultural patterns and habits.
The world has become a global village without real frontiers where the phenomenon of globalization of culture and economy is taking shape. In this process, the technologically advanced countries exert their domination on other parts of the world. They tend to impose their way of life, and to fashion the behaviour and mentality of less advanced peoples, who take on the role of passive consumers of goods and products generated elsewhere.
The processes of industrial production, too, have undergone a profound revolution. The introduction of robots has changed standards of production, considerably increased productivity and output, and had affected the traditional norms of competitiveness. In the present economic system only those innovative businesses can survive, which constantly adapt to technological change. Today they must innovate or perish.
Yet another threat hangs over developing, and especially African countries, which used to obtained the bulk of their income from raw materials. New, composite materials, pose a serious threat to the future of minerals. This is so in the automobile and aircraft industries, in which composite materials and various alloys are progressively replacing steel and light metals.
In the agricultural sphere, the use of biotechnology, notably in vitro cultivation and micropropagation, makes it possible to produce, in record time, at relatively low cost, plants and stock which could be grown only with difficulty by more traditional methods of cloning.
In the service sector it is equally easy to observe the effectiveness and time saving which can be achieved by the introduction of the systems and technology of communication and transmission of data. In our era, noted for speed, slow managements are soon overtaken and see their efforts come to nothing. The road to high performance lies via modernization of the working tool.
In another area telemanagement and telesurveillance,thanks to Radar, provide, among other benefits, greater security for territory and territorial waters, making for easier control of smuggling.
On the field of culture, sound and image technologies using, for example, projections on curtains of water, or liquid ?azote are already operational.
In Senegal,"off shore" job creating activities are being considered, in combination with certain OECD countries, as a way of overcoming unemployment. The idea is to move, by means of existing networks, data capture and software development to countries in the South which have qualified information workers who are less expensive than in OECD countries. The private sector would need to organize itself to face competition from Asian countries. Senegal's trump card is to exploit its membership of the francophone community and to stress its proximity to European countries. The role of the Government would be to supervise the negotiation of the first contracts between private Senegalese information professionals and European customers.
It emerges from the preceding remarks that every country which wishes to advance must keep continuously in touch with technological developments and must adapt quickly to technological change. To achieve this it is necessary to set up an alerting system and to give development workers appropriate information and training. What is required is a research centre whose mission it would be to keep a watching brief on the most up to date information technology and to make it available to the information industry.
For all these reasons, information technology today constitutes as essential a factor of production as capital, labour, energy, raw materials or industrial equipment. It is the "sixth sense" of successful businesses and modern states.
126.96.36.199 THE NEW INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY: OPPORTUNITIES FOR SENEGAL
The scientific and technical revolution of the late 20th century presages the development of new scientific and technological activities. Recent times have witnessed a gradual coming together and interpenetration of the technology of informatics, telecommunication, space and audiovisual media.
This profound and fast transfer of technology and working practices has resulted in a progressive enlargement of fields of application. New products and services have made their appearance, such as Videotex, telematics, data banks, new media such as fibre optics, satellite links, new public and business networks, new techniques such as software engineering, expert systems or artificial intelligence.
Conscious of what is at stake for development, Senegal, in imitation of developed countries has staked its future on mastery of the new technology as an engine of efficiency and generator of added value.
Informatics and telecommunications occupy a strategic place which confers on the countries which master them pride of place in the concert of nations.
The information technology explosion which Senegal is presently undergoing, has enabled it to establish a policy which should support, guide and stimulate the informatics and telecommunications sectors within all areas of development.
188.8.131.52.1 Integration of Hardware Systems
The components market offers powerful, modular and standardized products: storage, microprocessors, auxiliary storage, peripherals. Many innovations in informatics and telecommunications are based on concepts of integration of systems: designers stock basic building blocks and then construct their computers like architects.
A country like Senegal, having well trained entrepreneurs, up to date with the latest techniques, can offer them commercial outlets at least within its own borders, if not in the sub-region, or even in the whole of sub-Saharan Africa. The starting capital needs are modest and the Senegalese banking system should be able to meet these, accepting normal risk factors.
The areas where these Senegalese integrators of systems could operate touch upon:
- Traditional autonomous microprocessing (seeking dedicated outlets, especially in Africa. Some market research, however crude, is a sine qua non.)
-Distributed and communicating microprocessing: integration of processing power (possibly already present in the form of operational microprocessors) and communications power (by network switching, by a dedicated national network, or by dedicated lines) could give concrete shape to a client-server model so far little explored.
- Machines at the cross-roads between microprocessing and telecommunications: all the big manufacturers - Japanese, American, European - are currently carrying out research on PDAs (Personal Digital Assistants).
Held in the palm of the hand like a calculator, these are at the same time a diary, an electronic notebook, a mobile telephone, cellular or other, a fax unit and a remote terminal computer. A programming language to be called Telescript,is about to emerge.
Without, of course, attempting to compete with the giants such as NEC, there are surely sub-areas (assembly, specialization, adaptation to overcome local constraints, programming of special functions) where a Senegalese entrepreneur (or several, though the market is not infinitely expandable) could find a way of exercising his or her skills.
Some manufacturers such as ATT speak in terms of the presence of one billion personal communicators in the world today. Senegal should be able to take up a position among active operators, not among passive users.
184.108.40.206.2 Development of Software and Telecommunications
The growth of new programming aids, software engineering houses, object-oriented programming languages, languages using statement programming languages instead of procedural ones, programming by assembly of pre-existing modules - all these could give rise to developers of software of a new breed, who have more in common with integrators of hardware than with conventional programmers.
De facto or voluntary standardization of information technology and telecommunications offers a very wide field of applications to young experts who may be well trained but lack experience.
The field of applied information technology is vast enough, especially if one includes digital telecommunications, for areas to be uncovered, which have been abandoned by the giant western companies. If India has become the third biggest producer of software in the world it must be that there are strata of applications as yet unexplored.
Here, too, serious market research of international proportions is essential. What is really known about Africa's software needs? It would be a mistake to aim at traditional applications already well covered, such as accountancy, wages, stocks and shares, files of customers and suppliers and automatic documentation.
Transport, agriculture, fishing, education, national and vernacular languages, local, village and family organization, demography, migration - all the elements of African social life could be examined with a view to their potential for exploitation by the new technologies.
220.127.116.11.3 Teleworking and Remote Services
As costs of data processing and communications fall, the costs of human expertise take on enormous importance in calculations of the final net cost of products based on informatics or telecommunications.
For some years the idea of taking advantage of the low cost of labour of countries such as the African ones, so as to offer cheaper services to developed countries, has made its way in the information field in the same way as, earlier, it had in traditional production.
This presupposes that transmission of the final product to the client is no hindrance, hence the need to look critically at transmission costs.
On this assumption, remote services, (an international extension of teleworking, which is fashionable nowadays in Europe and America), offer a whole range of possibilities:
* Large scale data capture of conventional documents (forms, questionnaires etc.) There is a great demand for data capture of questionnaires arising from market research, opinion polls etc.;
* Aided capture of massive analog data in digitized form: the classic examples are land registration or architectural plans, old topographical and geographical surveys, where a complex drawing must be transformed into digitized coordinates; one need only consider the millions of plans which cannot at present be exploited on computer in developed countries for lack of such digitalization.
* Data capture, updating and delivery of the results drawn from specifically African data banks; Africa is the depository of a mass of data of general interest for the whole of humankind: archaeological, historical, linguistic, political, legal, economic, scientific (meterological, among others); rather than allow developing countries to do the exploitation, would it not be more appropriate to promote the creation of African data banks, managed by Africans, put at the disposal of other continents under mutually satisfactory financial conditions? Such an enterprise could start with a few nuclei springing from dynamic centres such as Senegal, and then spread to the sub- region and later to the entire continent. The data bank of the Informatics Centre of Bantu Civilizations (CICIBA) would seem a good example of the kind of application which could be promoted.
The question of South-North communications tariffs remains an essential prerequisite of all viable exploitation of these potentialities.
18.104.22.168.4 Inter-African Communications Networks
The recent appearance of revolutionary communications techniques is an opportunity for African countries, which are still at the stage of not having invested in very expensive infrastructure on the ground.
A significant characteristic of cellular mobile telephones is their ability to do without a physical network of wires and cables which took about a century to lay in developed countries. The gradual installation of "boundary markers" within the "cells", fictitiously apportioned on the ground, considerably reduces the cost of infrastructures: each terminal (mobile phone) communicates by radio (Hertzian link) with the delimiter of the cell in which it is placed. The delimiter transmits to the delimiter of the correspondent, who retransmits to the latter.
The system is most effective in a totally digitized environment: the simulated voice, transformed into computer code, becomes ordinary information. Provided that the appropriate software is available, all kinds of processing is possible (such as security coding). However, the ability to transmit numeric data permits the transfer of data without vocal importance: computer data, graphicdata such as fax, even television, provided that there are appropriate techniques for data compression.
These entirely new communication networks (the European GSM, of this type, was launched in July '92) are an opportunity Africa should grasp, given that it could "skip" the laborious, lengthy and expensive stage of physically laying the networks. These new networks could be extended gradually, starting with centres of economic activity, spreading to the whole country, region, and by means of satellites, to the continent and the world at large (cf projects for satellite networks such as Motorola's "Iridium")
Furthermore, numeric transmission allows some voice transmission which is valuable in the often difficult African climatic conditions.
22.214.171.124.5 Education and Training: Teleconferencing
Communications are the essential foundations which underpin development. This emerges clearly if one looks at the map of France. Today's major towns follow the railway network laid down in the 19th century.
Many basic human activities can take place without the physical displacement of persons, despite the undeniable psychological information which can be lost by their physical absence. Teleconferencing, the technique of meetings without the physical presence of the participants, made possible by the transmission, in real time, of sound and image, developed rapidly in the USA before and after the Gulf War, when the security of air transport was at risk. The advantages observed on that occasion consolidated the success of teleconferencing, once the danger had passed. These were; much lower cost of meetings; greater brevity of dialogue (no chatting); precision of thinking; possibility of archiving from the beginning at marginal cost, etc.
Teleteaching is merely an elaboration of the same concept - a teleconference on another scale, with other aims. If some experiments have failed (including African ones), it is more for lack of adaptation of teaching methods than because the technology was inappropriate. There are great opportunities, if the networks mentioned above (126.96.36.199.4) are available: providing throughout the country a uniformly high quality education; using multimedia techniques (voice, non-vocal sound, prepared images and images in real time); international exchanges, and, above all, reaching students in the most distant corners of the country at relatively low cost; recording and rediffusion, etc. Teaching can thus be freed from the constraints of time and space.
These new techniques are no longer at the stage of prototypes or experiments. Teleconferencing and teleteaching already benefit from much experience in developed countries. It is up to African countries to learn from this experience and adapt it to their own needs.
For example, Senegal, by the intermediary of the Ministry for the Modernisation of the State and of Technology, is presently studying, with the American operator GTE, the possibility of introducing a network within the country, serving 30 points, linked by satellite to the University of New York (Project SMKS), and going as far as enabling Senegalese students to obtain American diplomas. Such a system could equally support administrative links, other than those of the Ministry of Education. The technical feasibility is not in question. What is needed is a firm resolve to achieve concrete results, however daunting the difficulties may prove to be.
|Previous Menu||Home Page||What's New||Search||Country Specific|