UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA - AFRICAN STUDIES CENTER
2.1ROLE OF INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY IN DEVELOPMENT
The role of informatics policies is to provide a strategic policy framework for the acquisition and use of information technology (IT) for social and economic impact. In order to be effective policies on IT should be harmonized and integrated with other socioeconomic policies for national development.
The main objective of national informatics policy is to cost effectively acquire and optimally use informatics to process information as an integral factor in all sectors of national development. The possession and use of knowledge are, without doubt, essential ingredients for national progress. Information, the communicable form of knowledge, especially scientific and technological information, is one of the main prerequisites for economic and social development. This means that the free flow of scientific and technological information and its assimilation are essential preconditions for progress in developing countries. The use of information technology in national planning should not be viewed as merely supportive of decision making processes. Use of information is integral to decision making processes; information is the decision making process. Collective and applied information is the development process (Dosa, 1990). Therefore instead of sensitizing decision makers and planners to the value of timely, uptodate and accurate data in decision making we should sensitize them to quality decision making which is inseparable from processing of quality information and data. Marta Dosa makes the point that "collective and applied information is the expression of a society". On this basis each decision maker is an information processor and producer. Further, information processing is today not distinguishable from information generation and transmission.
This study and others (Zwangobani, 1987) show that most countries have sectoral IT policies governing the implementation and operation of IT programmes. Some are micropolicies which operate at the organisation level while others are macropolicies which are applicable at the national level. This report documents legal instruments such as acts.
According to UNESCO (Montvilloff, 1990) the fundamental premise underlying the methodology for the formulation, implementation and operation of a national information policy is that "a national policy is required to ensure the harmonious implementation and operation of information resources, services and systems (e.g. timely access to relevant information for varying needs of users) throughout the society, coordination and compatibility of the overall information national system, better complementarity and compatibility between the various legislations concerning the provision of information, better responsiveness to the implications of the new information technologies to the implications of the new information technologies and more effective participation in regional and international information systems and services". The UNESCO approach recognizes the importance of integrating the national information policy with the national development plan. This methodology proposes as a first step the assessment of the needs of IT users at the national level, including survey of existing IT resources, and other relevant policies in force. This should be followed by a definition of the policy objective, and its various components, and formulation of strategies and design of mechanisms for implementation. An integrated national IT policy should have components covering the
The acquisition and/or development of the technology
The development of human resources and their use including informatics in the academic system
the establishment of a telecommunications infrastructure
the storage and use of data in private and public sector
the protection of intellectual property rights
participation in extranational information networks
In view of the fact that African countries are opening up their economies to both external investment and market competition, policy formulation should take into account the impact of the national and the external environment on the development of IT in issues such as international data networks, compatibility of technology, intellectual property rights, transborder data flows, technology transfer, and economic conditions, should be explicitly considered in the policy. Information technology is very much an international commodity whose influence transcends national borders.
In the context of the national environment, the role of information technology in the development of a multisectoral economy is the main focus. Information technology should be utilised to improve productivity, quality of products and/or services, efficiency in the work place, competitiveness in the international market place. The links between IT and the different sectors of the economy must be analyzed and understood in the planning process. Such factors as user requirements, and infrastructural support should be included in assessing the impact of IT on the various sectors.
Lastly information technology should be looked at as an economic sector in its own right. This sector can be categorized into sub sectors such as research, human resources development, hardware, software, consultancy and database/networks. Each of these subsectors can be analyzed to assess its impact on national development programmes. Telecommunications is the key physical infrastructure that creates an enabling environment for the widespread development and use of IT.
2.2INTEGRATED NATIONAL IT POLICIES
While the Governments of Ethiopia, Kenya, Nigeria, Tanzania and Zimbabwe have not gone the route of formulating integrated national informatics policies their policy activities todate indicate a keen awareness of the potential of IT in the development of their economies. The lack of integrated policies could be attributed to the political, legal and technical complexities of formulating and implementing them. Evidently Governments feel that they can set up national frameworks for IT development by following less complex approaches. It seems easier to formulate implement and monitor policies in priority sectors, which could bring about increased use of IT in their countries. By taking advantage of existing infrastructures and resources the Government can move quickly from policy to implementation plan.
A number of countries (e.g. Kenya) have evidently given thought to developing as integrated policy framework, but the work had (at the time of the study) not progressed beyond flagging of policy directions. Others such as Ethiopia gave the responsibility for formulating an IT policy to the Science and Technology Commission. Tanzania is in the process of developing its own integrated IT policy.
Zimbabwe has adopted a multipronged approach where the S & T body is responsible for aspects of IT policy, and the Committee for Coordinating the Acquisition of Computer Technology is responsible for other aspects. The country, however, has no integrated IT policy. The Kenya Government's sixth development plan (19891993) significantly incorporates informatics in the national development plan. The plan analyses the existing IT infrastructures and pointed to the direction in which Government would like to invest in further development in this area. The paper briefly surveys current resources such as the Information Bureaux, Libraries, Archives and National Museums, as well as Scientific and Technological Information Services. The Kenya Government intends to "encourage and facilitate" the production of hardware and software as well as manpower training. The paper does not spell out how this is to be achieved. Furthermore the Kenya Government would like to establish a Development Resource Centre which should establish and maintain databases designed to encourage information sharing between government agencies and private institutions as well as individuals.
The Ethiopian Government Economic policy implemented in 1992 makes no explicit provision of the role of informatics in the National Development. The policy, however, is deemed to have had significant impact on IT development since it opened up the economy and has created an environment enabling the flourishing of this technology. As a result significant investment has occurred in IT.
The same is true of the Government of Zimbabwe. The economic structural adjustment policy (ESAP), now in its sixth year, makes no explicit recognition of information technology. However, the opening up of the economy has had tremendous impact on IT. The country has over 200 companies in the IT sector including hardware, software, consultancy, and training. Of particular significance is that IT is one of the economic sectors in which many indigenous professionals have established businesses a development which has considerable political importance.
The Nigerian Government has adopted a different approach. The Government has not implemented a national informatics policy as such but has established (in 1989) the National Data Bank (NDB) and Departments of Planning, Research and Statistics (DPRS) in every ministry and departments. The NDB has as its major objective the production of uptodate and accurate data for national economic planning and performance monitoring. The Data Bank has the role of actively collecting and disseminating national and relevant international statistical data and disseminating the same to endusers. In addition, the NDB processes data used to monitor performance of the economy at federal, state and local levels. The NDB has achieved the following:
Preliminary survey of the Nigerian statistical system
Survey of user requirements for statistical data and reports
Installation of hardware and software for the storage and processing of data
Selection of seven data sets and their documentation and development of appropriate databases for these. The seven data sets cover the areas of: petroleum, manufacturing, international trade and balance of payments, money and banking, public finance, prices and price indices and national accounts. Data sets on Education, Health, Employment Labour and productivity are being developed.
Organisation of meetings/conferences
Provision of inservice training courses and study
In 1988 the Nigerian Government promulgated Decree 43 which decentralised the Nigerian Statistical framework by the establishment of a Department of Planning. Research and Statistics (DPRS) in each ministry and department. This development has had the effect of increasing awareness of statistical data in planing and monitoring of the various economic sectors. Consequently it has fuelled informatics development in Nigeria.
Tanzania has gone through a chequered history in the IT policy area. One of the most notable milestones was the banning of computers by Government in 1974! Subsequently the Government appointed two independent teams to study the effectiveness of informatics in Tanzania. Both teams recommended the formulation of a national policy and the launching of a national training programme for computer technology, and the setting up of a secretariat to oversee all matters relating to informatics in Tanzania. While the Government did not formulate a national policy it established the Ad hoc Computer Advisory Committee to control the importation of computers after the ban.
In 1987, a seminar with the title "Seminar on the Contribution of Informatics to Economic Development" was held at Arusha. This seminar recommended the formulation of a national informatics policy. The Government, however, did not take up this recommendation at the time.
In 1991 the Planning Commission established a project team whose objectives were:
to review the current information systems (IS) issues within Tanzania.
to document terms of reference for priority IS projects.
The project team focused on three areas, namely
National policy issues for IS
IS education and training, and
Strategy within the government
The major outcomes of this study were policy and IS projects recommendations which were put before the Government. These are:
(i)Developing a vision statement for the future national policy on IS.
ii)Establishing a policy making body and defining its objectives, role responsibilities and procedures.
(iii)Specification of the desired IS standards covering human capital, technical standards and software.
(iv)Defining the industrial IS policy which should be based on supply and demand.
(v)Defining IS strategy for the government.
The recommendations of this study have been taken up for implementation by the Government. A project was drawn up (June 1992). The project should last 18 month and the outcome should be a draft document on national policy for informatics, which is expected to address the following issues: information goals, priorities, personnel, methodology, standards, industrial policy, institutional framework, and development strategies in government.
Thus Tanzania, with UNDP assistance, is in the process of formulating an integrated national informatics policy.
(i)It is clear from the country reports that none of the countries surveyed has formulated and implemented a national integrated informatics policy. It is equally evident that the Governments of these countries are all, to varying degrees, alive to the potential of informatics in their national development programmes.
(ii)The shift from centrally planned and controlled economies to ones where market forces are given free reign has resulted in growth of the IT industry. This development seems driven by the need for increased efficiency in both public and private sector organisations. This growth is not policy driven. It is one of the downstream effects of the structural adjustment policies.
(iii)Furthermore the policy change from centrally planned to open economies has had the effect of making redundant IT policies which were implemented before the turnabout in economic policies. As a result we are now dealing with a new policy era altogether in which the Government role is more promotional rather than regulatory.
(iv)Policies implemented before the structural adjustment programmes are now largely of historical interest, except in so far as they demonstrate the level of Government awareness of the role of IT in their economies during that period. Policies implemented after the introduction of the structural adjustment programmes have been in existence for a short time span. It may therefore be too early to arrive at a realistic assessment of their impact on the economy. It is certainly early to assess the success or failure of the economic structural adjustment programmes themselves.
(iv)All the Governments of the countries surveyed have put in motion mechanisms to formulate and/or implement IT sectoral policies. In the case of Tanzania the Government has taken steps to formulate an integrated national policy.
Each of the target countries has a variety of IT policies and/or policy instruments embedded in sectoral economic policies. Following the definition given above this document regards informatics as a national development sector in its own right. The other sector which shall be reported on is science and technology. This approach is taken advisedly since some countries regard S & T as a sector while others do not. An arbitrary way to categorize the two is that those that evidently do regard it as a sector have a ministries responsible for it, while those that take it as a horizontal activity have set up commissions to handle it. Admittedly this difference in approach could have other causes, such as differences in emphasis.
The Informatics sector will be analyzed by subsectors which include:
Education and Training
Research and Development
The policies presented for the above subsectors may have been formulated and implemented in other economic sectors rather than Informatics. For example, the Informatics subsector of Education and Training may have policies arising from the National Education Policies which have integrated IT policies. Each subsector above will be analyzed in terms of current policies, as well as any future policy directions, if these are given.
Policies in this subsector deal with issues relating to information technology acquisition and diffusion. Practically all the countries have policies relating to aspects of technology acquisition. Historically the main thrust of such policies has always been the regulation of the importation of computers. Some of the countries (Kenya, Tanzania) have gone through periods during which their Governments activity discouraged the importation of computers on the grounds that they created unemployment. These periods were, however, relatively shortlived.
A common approach for controlling the importation of computers was to create a body that regulated their importation. This body or committee determined whether the applicant(s) should be awarded a foreign currency allocation, or import permit, or both, for importing computers. This determination was usually based on sectoral national economic priorities. In Zimbabwe an ad hoc committee in the Ministry of Industry Trade and Commerce used to receive applications for and award import permits accompanied by the necessary allocation of foreign currency. This committee would process applications from both the public and private sectors. Since the introduction of ESAP there are no controls on the importation of computers by the private sector. The public sector, however, is regulated by the Committee for Coordinating the Acquisition of Computer Technology (CCAT). This committee coordinates the acquisition of computer technology and advises Government on the intended application(s) and on the selection of both hardware and software. The intention here is to harmonize use of information technology in the public sector, to ensure that standards are adhered to in the acquisition and use of hardware and software, and to avoid underutilization of resources. The Committee also ensures the availability of manpower before a project is embarked on. It has membership from the Ministries of:
Education and Culture
University of Zimbabwe
Posts and Telecommunications Corporation
Central Computing Services
The technical committee of CCAT vets all applications for computer acquisitions by Ministries. The committee sets the guidelines followed by all ministries and departments in the acquisition of data processing equipment. These procedures no longer apply to the private sector and to parastatals. From the foregoing it is evident that the Computer Committee is intended to introduce rationalisation, harmonisation, efficiency, effectiveness and economy in the acquisition and use of IT, rather than to regulate. The acquisition of telecommunications equipment is regulated by the Posts and Telecommunications Corporation (PTC) for both the public and private sectors.
The introduction of ESAP, however, has made no difference to the tariff structure applicable to IT. Both computers and telecommunications equipment attract quite heavy import duties, surtax and sales tax. These add sixty two per cent to the CIF cost of computer, thus having a significant impact on the market price of these products.
In Ethiopia, the National Computer Procurement Committee played the same role as the CCAT in Zimbabwe. Interestingly, however, the National Computer Procurement Committee was in the Ethiopian Science and Technology Commission and it advised the Council of Ministers. This committee, however, was disbanded in 1990. Currently some form of control is exercised through the acknowledgement of Competence Committeewhich is unique to Ethiopia. This committee advises the Ministry of Trade on the suitability of applicants for licenses for computer businesses. It is run by the Ethiopian S & T Commission and the Ministry of Trade. Therefore the Committee influences the actual establishment of computer businesses. A weakness of this system is that in some cases licenses are awarded to applicants directly by the Ministry of Trade without going through the Committee.
The Ethiopian tax rate for computers was reduced from 5080 per cent to 24 per cent, and 40 per cent for accessories. This is a good deal lower than the rate for Zimbabwe. However, the procedures an importer has to go through in Ethiopia to clear a consignment of computer through Customs is reported to be daunting.
The Ethiopian report is the only one that makes explicit mention of policies that effect technology transfer. The Ethiopian Government formulated and implemented the "Encouragement, Expansion and Coordination of Investment Proclamation and Investment Regulation". This policy was intended to "encourage and facilitate the absorption by Ethiopian nationals of foreign technology, knowhow and technical skills". This policy is not an IT policy but rather part of a package of investment policies implemented by the Government and is applicable to informatics.
In Kenya the Government controls the importation of computers through import controls, licensing and foreign exchange rationing. It is not clear whether these controls are still in place in the era of structural adjustment. Nigeria does not seem to have any controls on the importation of hardware.
Tanzania took the unusual step of banning the importation of computers in 1974. The Government felt that the country was not ready for computerisation. This was effected by means of a Government Imports Control Ordinance which prohibited the importation of computers. Subsequently the Ordinance was modified to permit importation of computers deemed to be in the public interest. This resulted in the Guidelines for Evaluation of Computer requests for Import of Computer Equipment. The guidelines laid down conditions to be met for the importation of computers, and it laid down the procedures to be followed if and when submitting an application. The implementing agency was the Ministry of Finance, and the executing agency was the Adhoc Computer Advisory Committee formed in 1974. This committee was short lived and is no longer in operation.
(i)Policies in this subsector were strongly affected by structural adjustment programmes. Prior to these programmes, most of the countries surveyed had stringent regulations and procedures which governed the importation of information technology.
Following the introduction of the structural adjustments programmes controls were set aside and in most cases, information technology products can now be imported relatively freely. This has brought about significant increase in the acquisition and use of information technology. This development has been a consequence of the structural adjustment programmes and not as a result of explicit informatics policies.
(ii)Some of the countries, e.g. Zimbabwe, have introduced controls for the public sector with the intention of harmonising and rationalising the acquisition and use of hardware and software.
(iii)Other countries, such as Ethiopia, Tanzania have introduced policies on technology transfer. None has formulated policies to introduce or promote IT industries.
(vi)The import tariff charges, where data was reported, is high in Zimbabwe and Ethiopia. This could discourage the acquisition and use of informatics in businesses. This factor could also contribute to putting computers and their software out of the reach of home computer buyers. This of course retards the development of familiarity with computers by the general population. Worse still, it makes it difficult for schools to acquire computers.
(v)There is no country report which contains reference to acquisition, maintenance and connectivity standards for the public sector.
The policy instruments and statements made about the hardware sub sector also apply to software. However, customs duty, surtaxes and sales taxes for hardware do not necessarily apply to software. It is interesting to note that despite the relatively low salary levels in the African countries surveyed there has been no attempt by the governments concerned to implement policies intended to promote the development of their own software industries following the example of India and some Latin American countries.
The situation in Tanzania typifies all the countries surveyed. There is no government policy commitment to:
Training and Education in Software Engineering
Software Standards development
Introduction and promotion of international software houses
Provide and enforce legal protection of privacy and intellectual property of software assets.
(i)None of the countries surveyed have introduced policies to promote the development of a software industry. The constraints here may be shortage of manpower and lack of infrastructure such as reliable telecommunication systems
(ii)Software generally does not get any attention from the policy makers. Consequently there are no reported attempts in any of the countries to address such issues as software standards, intellectual property rights, etc. There are no bodies or committees established to define and monitor the implementation of system standards even for the public sector.
2.3.3EDUCATION AND TRAINING
This is a subsector of notable policy activity in all the five countries. Policies and instruments have been implemented in virtually all the countries surveyed to promote the development of human resources in IT in both the formal academic systems as well as in training institutions. All five countries show awareness of the importance of developing their human resources to cope with this fast changing and critical economic sector.
However, policies on computer education in schools are not as widespread as the situation warrants. In cases where policies have been formulated to introduce computer education in schools, implementation has met with difficulties usually associated with acquisition of hardware and software and lack of trained manpower.
In other words, even though the national policy perspective is there, both the national resource base and the institutional capacity to implement policies are lacking. Furthermore mechanisms for developing and monitoring the effectiveness of IT curricula are too often quite inadequate.
In Ethiopia informatics education in schools is still new. Training in informatics is explicitly recognised in a number of policies and/or policy instruments. Some of these are:
National Computer Centre
Ethiopian Telecommunications Authority
National Scientific and Technological Information and Documentation Centre
Currently there are approximately thirty private IT training centres in Ethiopia. High level training is offered by the Addis Ababa University, Department of Mathematics. Kotobe Teachers Training Institute also runs courses on computer awareness.
It is worth noting that there is no organisation responsible for curriculum development in IT. Most of the courses available are on application software packages with an introductory course on the operating system. There is no report on a policy on the introduction of computer education in schools.
In Kenya the sixth development plan is silent on human resources development in IT. The country, however, has a considerable number of training centres offering courses on applications software as well as on basic computer skills such as programming techniques and systems analysis. Computer education and training is offered at tertiary level.
In Nigeria the government recognised the need to make Nigerian society computer literate and formulated a computer policy intended to bring this about. A high level committee was established to advise the government on the modalities of introducing computer education into the schools in Nigeria, including tertiary education.
The Committee produced as objectives:
To bring about a computer literate society in Nigeria by the middle of the nineties
To enable the present generation of school children at this level to appreciate the potentials of the computer and be able to utilize the computer in various aspects of life and late occupation.
These policy objectives were translated to apply to the general populace. Therefore general educational/training objectives were produced which included the ability to use and program computers and to understand their structure and their use in problemsolving. The Committee also produced a curriculum framework for the content of an educational program at secondary school level. Implementation of this policy had as one of its stumbling blocks the shortage of teachers trained in computers. Therefore the policy had to make provision for this. The Committee also outlined the roles of the Federal and State Governments, Universities, Polytechnic and research institutions in implementing this policy.
At the tertiary level the National Universities Commission has pushed for the effective implementation of the Computer Literacy Programme. It has also pressed for the development of curricular for degree programmes in computer science and engineering at first degree, master's and doctorate levels. The objectives of the computer literacy programme at tertiary level are as follows:
Establishing and entrenching a computer culture that permeates all activities in the University
Producing university graduates who are considered computer literate irrespective of their course of study 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 courseware that will enable the country to attain the latest computer technology capability
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 societal level.
Computer education in polytechnic and technical colleges also comes under the responsibility of the National Board for Technical Education (NBTE) whose mandate is to ensure the observance of standards in education in these institutions. The NBTE oversees the development of curricula for computer education accrediting computer courses in their colleges. They also promote and fund adaptive research for the design, and development of computer hardware software, firmware, power systems, thinfilm technology and printed circuit boards.
As a result of these efforts the polytechnics have played an effective role in the development of human resources. They have achieved the following:
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
Developing of thinfilm technology application particularly in printed circuit board design and production
Monitoring courses for technicians and technologists for the various levels of personnel from industry and the community at large.
As a result of the National Policy on Computer Education, computers have been introduced in many Federal Government Colleges. However, computers have yet to be introduced in most State Secondary Schools. Use of computers in schools is hampered by lack of trained teachers.
In addition to being responsible for the Policy on Computer Education, the Federal Ministry of Education intends to establish computer laboratories in all 45 Federal Government Colleges. Finally Ministries of Education in a number of states plan to introduce computer education in schools.
In Zimbabwe the government has a policy of introducing computer education in schools. However, the actual introduction of computers in schools has been hindered by lack of financial resources to purchase computers and by the lack of trained teachers. The price of computers has hitherto been so high that schools could not afford them. Recently the price of computers has come down dramatically with ESAP. However, ESAP requires drastic reduction in government expenditure. Therefore the consequent budgetary restrictions make it difficult for schools to acquire computers. Nevertheless the Zimbabwe Development Fund (ZIMDEF) has undertaken a project to computerise schools in Zimbabwe.
Computer education is offered in polytechnics across the country. They offer courses from National Diploma to Higher National Diploma. The courses are practically oriented and include attachment to industry. The Ministry of Higher Education and Culture has a curriculum development unit whose mandate include development of curricula for computer education.
Three of the Universities in Zimbabwe offer Computer courses. These vary from straight forward computer science courses to communications. Computer engineering courses are, unfortunately, currently not available.
The Government has created an organisation called the National Manpower Advisory council, NAMACO for short, which monitors the national manpower requirements. It was created under the Manpower Planning and Development Act No. 36 of 1994. It advises the Ministry of Higher Education on the development of the nations' human resources. NAMACO's membership includes a representative of the Computer Society of Zimbabwe. In 1994 NAMACO, with the Computer Society of Zimbabwe, launched a national survey of IT professionals in Zimbabwe. It also tracked IT staff movement within Zimbabwe and to other countries. The results of the survey should assist the Government in Planning the training requirements of the information processing industry of Zimbabwe.
In Tanzania the Institute of Curriculum Development of the Ministry of Education and Culture developed and recommended a syllabus for computer education in schools. As a result the Ministry issued a circular on the introduction of computer subjects in secondary schools.
The University of Dar es Salaam has not succeeded in offering a BSc (with Computer Science) degree due to constraints in the recruitment and retention of staff and in the supply of teaching materials, text books and other facilities.
The Dar es Salaam Technical College is one of the relatively few institutions offering computer engineering courses. It incorporates microcomputer and hardware maintenance into its diploma and full certificate courses. The Institute of Finance Management (IFM) offers a range of informatics courses integrated with their diploma courses in Accountancy and Banking. In addition the Institute also offers short management information programmes. Currently the IFM is establishing a modern computing facility to run postgraduate, diploma and certificate programmes in informatics. A number of other public sector institutions also offer informatics programmes; these include the Institute of Development Management, Morogoro, the Cooperative College, Moshi, the College of Business Education, Dar es Salaam, and the Dar es Salaam School of Accountancy. These institutions teach basic computer courses including common packages such as word processing, dBase, Lotus, etc.
Education and training activities in IT are also found in the private sector. Over 55 organisations offer short courses in informatics. The majority, if not all, of the institutions offer introductory courses in common packages and/or operating systems. Three private sector institutions offer diploma courses in Computer Science. These are the Institute for Information Technology, Dar es Salaam, the Institute of Management and Information Technology, and International Communications Systems.
The Eastern and Southern African Management Institute (ESAMI) is a regional management training centre offering courses in informatics. ESAMI offers mainly short courses in such areas as Systems Analysis and Design; Programming, Database Systems, Distributed Computing, Security and Information Systems Planning.
Of all the countries surveyed Nigeria is the only one that can be said to have comprehensive policy on informatics education. The others have implemented their policies with a view to promoting certain aspects of informatics education. All the countries in the study have tertiary education programmes in informatics. Not all have programmes at the school level. Even those that have such programmes face practical problems of implementation. The priority given to tertiary education is most likely based on the need to address each country's manpower requirements.
Whether this topdown approach is valid remains to be seen. The private sectors are playing their part in offering basic courses. Institutions offering advanced courses are few. Equally interesting is the observation that computer technician's courses are not that readily available. If one assumes that investment in establishing courses is demand driven the conclusion follows that the demand is still low. It further follows that the population of PCs, etc. must be so low that the demand generated is not yet commercially significant.
(i)All the countries surveyed demonstrated a fair amount of policy activity in the subsector of education and training. Not all of them have formulated policies for informatics education in schools. They all, however, have informatics education at tertiary level.
(ii)In all the countries the private sector plays an active role on setting up and conducting training courses in informatics. Some of the countries have professional associations which have defined, published and implemented codes of conduct for private schools.
(iii)The development of curricula is, in all cases, carried out by an appropriate public sector body. In some cases, e,g, Zimbabwe, the private sector is involved in defining curricula for schools and for polytechnics.
(iv)The training of trainers is regarded as important aspect of policy by some governments. Programmes are in place to train trainers and teachers.
(v)Another major drawback in introducing computers in schools is the shortage of resources to acquire computer hardware and software.
(vi)In addition to the introduction of informatics education in schools and tertiary institutions, countries such as Nigeria have designed programmes to promote computer literacy in educational institutions and in society in general.
(vii)Of all the countries surveyed Nigeria is the only one that reports on specific policies for the training of hardware and software engineers. The other countries reports make no reference to policies for the training of hardware and software engineers.
The development of data banks designed to serve critical economic sectors is of the utmost importance in harnessing the power of IT for national development. The development of a governmentwide or country wide data bank presupposes the availability of resources to make this work. Some of the resources required are:
Enabling policy or legislative framework
Integration of the data bank with related systems
Availability of manpower and tools to manage the databases information network
Awareness of and user friendly access to the data bank.
Of the countries under study Nigeria seems to have taken the largest policy strides in terms of setting up public data banks for use by policy makers.
The Nigerian National Data Bank (NDB) was established under the National Data Bank (National Planning Commission) decree No. 12 of 1992. The NDB gets its data from sectoral and ministry data banks. For this to happen these data banks are integrated with the NDB. The initial set of sectoral data banks included Agriculture, Industry, Education, Finance, and Science and Technology. The objectives of the NDB are as follows:
The production of relevant, accurate and uptodate data for use by the three tiers of government in Nigeria Federal, State and Local
To analyze the data and produce reports that are used for monitoring socioeconomic indicators
The production of data definitions, classifications for use by NDB and the sectoral data banks
The definition of methodologies and procedures applicable to the data banks
The organisation of seminars and conferences
Since its creation the NDB has carried out a preliminary survey of the Nigerian statistical system covering 87 data producers. It has selected and developed numerical databases in the areas of petroleum, manufacturing, international trade, balance of payments, money and banking, public finance, prices and price indices, and national accounts. Work is already in progress on data sets in Education, Health, Employment, Labour and Productivity. In a step that reportedly increased informatics activities in the country the Government promulgated Decree 43 of 1988 which decentralised the Nigerian statistical system by setting up a Department of Planning, Research and Statistics in every ministry and department. As a result of these and other activities almost all the Ministries, State Governments and extra ministry departments have established or are establishing data banks.
Another important initiative is the establishment in 1988 of the National Documentation and Information Centre for Science and Technology located at Abubaker Tafawa Balewa University with nodes with responsibility for various sectors such as:
(ii)Environment Sciences and Technology including earth sciences
(iv)Engineering and technology
(v)Social sciences literature
In Ethiopia in 1957 the Government established the National Scientific and Technological Information and Documentation Centre located in the Ethiopian Science and Technology Commission with its main objectives as the strengthening and coordination of sectoral information systems and services, to provide S & T information services, and to promote the development of S & T information services and systems.
The centre currently provides information services to researchers, policy makers and the S & T community in general. The accuracy, timeliness and relevancy of the information it provides has improved. The success of the centre can be attributed to the impicit policy of the Government supporting the development of S & T information, the practice of the Commission to recruit graduates and give them in service training, and the accountability of the Commission to the Council of Ministers.
In Kenya the government has set up a number of information bureaux which store and provide data for planning and decisionmaking. This data is useful in the formulation, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of development programmers. These centres are:
Central Bureau of Statistics
Government Computer Services Centre
District Information and Documentation Centre
Ministerial Information Centres
The Government also plans to establish a Development Resource Centre which will facilitate interfaces between government agencies, private development agencies, private institutions and private individuals.
The Kenya National Council for Science and Technology (NCST) is responsible for S & T information technology services. It is mandated to advise on all scientific information services and to establish a mechanism for the collection and dissemination of S & T information. In pursuance of these objectives it established the Kenya National Scientific Documentation Centre (KENSIDOC) whose objectives are:
To provide information, and referral Services and tools
to planners, researchers and technologists
Disseminate research results
Strengthen S & T information sources
The National Council for S & T, however, is more attuned to information science than to informatics.
In Zimbabwe the custodians of the data and the data banks have hitherto been separated. The custodian of the data is the Central Statistical office which has several PCs for producing the Statistical Year Book, for surveys, population census and other data. The CSO is mandated with the collection, storage, processing and dissemination of the country's statistical data. It operates under an Act of Parliament. In some sectors the collection for and transmission of data to CSO is required by law. CSO used to be in the Ministry of Finance but is now under the office of the President.
The custodian of the data banks is the Central Computing Services (CCS). This body is the main informatics policy instrument in the Zimbabwean public sector. Its main objectives are:
To provide computing facilities to Government in a cost
To provide centralized training facilities to user departments
To enhance the appreciation of computing within the public sector
To provide advice and consultancy services to Government in the area of computing
The CCS is the custodian of many public sector databases some of which are owned by CSO, others by sectoral ministries. Access to the data is by means of a wide area network extending to user ministries around the country.
As the computing requirements of Government have grown, CCS found itself unable to cope in a costeffective manner. The Government then commissioned a study by the National Computer Centre of UK whose objectives were to:
Assess data processing resources and the appropriateness
of the methods and systems to user needs
Assess strategic information requirements of Government ministries and possibilities of data sharing
Assess resource requirements by CCS to provide centralised computing facilities and provide resources to monitor and coordinate information resource within the civil service
Assess the need and potential for distributed or enduser processing using terminals or microcomputers
Make recommendations as to the best possible ways of converting CCS to a cost based service environment
Recommend costeffective means of meeting user needs in the medium term (57 years) and draft a programme of activities
The NCC report made recommendations covering both policy areas and operations of CCS itself. The report is currently being studied by Government.
(i)Virtually all the countries surveyed have established statistical databanks of one kind or another. Users access the databanks by means of wide area networks in some of the institutions while in others no such facilities are available. In the latter the institutional framework is lacking and consequently implementation falls short of policy expectations. This should impact negatively on the rate of use of such resources by the user ministries and departments.
(ii)The country reports make no reference to the effectiveness of the established databanks. Therefore no indication is available as to the value of the initiatives to the economies of the countries surveyed.
(iii)The importance attached for S & T information in highlighted by the fact that all the countries have S & T information services of varying levels of sophistication and effectiveness.
(iv)There is no reported participation in or access to the data banks or information systems by the private sector. This is understandable for Governmental databanks but not to national statistical planning data and S & T information systems.
(v)There are no reports of linkage of data banks to foreign data networks nor to databanks of neighbouring countries.
One of the most important infrastructures for the development of informatics is telecommunications. Policies on and the development of telecommunications have a crucial bearing on informatics. All the countries under study have put in place centralised, monolithic and monopolistic organisations to establish, maintain and develop telecommunication services. The era of structural adjustments and opening up of the economies is slowly bringing changes in this sector.
The main objectives of telecommunication authorities can be summarised as follows:
To establish, provide, operate, promote, regulate and
monitor the development and operation of telecommunication
To protect the rights and privileges of users and operators
To act as an agent for the Government in all matters relating to the provision of telecommunication services internally and for external communication
To provide training to staff and users
To establish and operate any supporting industries for the repair, manufacture, assemble telecommunication equipment
In Ethiopia the Ethiopian Telecommunication Authority
(ETA) was established in 1952 and has been successful
in promoting telephone services. However, its use of
telematics is very low (despite the existence of a
FIDOnet node with some 2000 users operated by PADIS/ECA)
and remote data communications is still rare. The only
major exception is Ethiopian Air Lines which is connected
to SITA, the worldwide airlines reservations network.
Other users of data network are UN agencies linked
to external networks.
Importation of any telecommunication equipment was not allowed to individuals until 1992. Currently individuals can import modems, cordless telephones, fax machines provided they follow ETA's specifications, which many persons complain are obsolete. Further any equipment to be connected to the PSTN has to be type approved by ETA.
Satellite technology is used for telephones and TV. Ethiopia has a domestic satellite communications for telephone, telex and TV. Use of the satellite services requires a license and fees have to be paid.
In Nigeria telecommunications are organised at three levels. These are policy, development, regulations and carriers/operators. Regulations are under the control of the Nigeria Telecommunications Commission established by Degree No. 75 of December 1992. The carrier is NITEL plc., a fully commercialised autonomous company.
In 1990 NITEL introduced digital lines, and in 1992 cellular mobile telephones. Nitel has embarked on a joint venture with SATCOM to provide a data communication service called DATANET. Other services provided by NITEL are:
Private Leased Telephone and Telex Services
Leased Telephone and Telegraph Services
Data Switching System
Electronic Mail (National Service only)
K. 25 Switch
K.400 Electronic Messages
It is worth noting that with the establishment of the Commission the following areas were privatised.
Installation of terminal or other equipment
Provision and operation of private links, employing cables or satellite within the country
Provision and operation of public mobile communication
Provision and operation of community telephones
Provision of operation of valueadded network services
Report and maintenance of telecommunications facilities and cabling
The Post and Telecommunication Corporation (PTC) has
a monopoly in the provision of telecommunication services
in Zimbabwe. There are extensive radio and microwave
links connecting cities and towns. Data communications
are available over leased circuits, dialup on ordinary
telephone lines, and the recently introduced ZIMNET,
an X.25 packet switching network.
PTC services are provided under the PTC Act "Rhodesia Government Notice No. 399 of 1973 Act/4674." In addition there are some bylaws and regulations controlling aspects of the provision of service. These include:
Post and Telecommunication Services (Telephone) By Law
1993 which regulates procedures for obtaining telephone
Post and Telecommunication Services (Charges) By Laws 1993 Statutory Instrument 247 which gives guidelines to charges for services provided by the PTC
In Kenya telecommunication services are provided by the Kenya Posts and Telecommunications Corporation (KPTC) established in 1977 by an Act of Parliament. The operations of the KPTC are characterised by:
Highly bureaucratic type approval
High operating costs
Limited options (only dedicated lines)
These characteristics also apply, in general, to Zimbabwe, KPTC recently established a dedicated packet switching data network called KENPAC which is still to be assessed.
The importance of an efficient telecommunications infrastructure to the development of the informatics sector cannot be overemphasized. Efficient data communication infrastructure in African countries are simply hard to come by. Some countries offer leased lines at 9500 baud as well as dialup facilities. However, the cost of such systems in often quite high, thus discouraging their use except by large organisations and companies. Furthermore archaic regulations prohibit users from venturing into the use of new communication technologies which may offer them more efficient service.
(i)All countries surveyed have centralised bodies virtually monopolising telecommunications services. Despite the structural adjustment programmes the area of telecommunications is, in general, yet to be adequately deregulated.
(ii)Digital services have been or are being introduced in some of the countries. Packet switched telecommunication networks are available in the majority of countries. No reports are available as to their reliability, availability, nor on their charging levels.
(iii)It is evident that development in telecommunications lags far behind and is a major hinderance to the overall development of data networks. Where services are available, reliability is a major question.
(iv)In some countries, regulations governing the operations of telecommunication services, are out of step with modern technological developments. Consequently the country pays the penalty by stultifying the developments of its communication networks.
2.3.6RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT (R & D)
The R & D covered in this section relates to information only. None of the country reports dealt with direct policy relating to R & D in informatics. In Zimbabwe R & D is generally carried out under the umbrella of S & T. The Research Council of Zimbabwe (RCI) established in 1993 the Scientific and Industrial Research and Development Centre (SINDC). The RCZ is a policymaking body in the area of S & T. Its operations are governed by an act of Parliament called the Research Act. It supervises and monitors all research in the country. The SIRDC is an operational arm intended to support the modernisation of Zimbabwe industry through technology acquisition, adaptation, R & D, and information dissemination. CIRDC has a number of research institutes including one for microelectronics. The Institute for Micro electronics carries out research in selected aspects of micro electronics, information and telecommunications. The R & D work at SIRDC is supposed to be directly related to the identified interests of industry.
In Nigeria the National Board for Technical Equation (NBTE) was mandated, amongst other objectives, to promote and fund research and development in computer hardware, software, firmware, power systems and related technologies. In addition the National Universities Commission was also tasked with conducting research into and developing of computer hardware, software and courseware with the aim of enabling the country to participate in stateofthe art developments in this area. In Ethiopia some R & D work is reported dealing with the development of Amharic Systems.
(i)There is some policy activity in the area of R & D in informatics, though not a great deal. This is perhaps not surprising. The countries surveyed are more concerned about getting their economies and societies to adopt and use informatics as a priority rather than in exploring the frontiers of the technology. Some countries, such as Zimbabwe, have explicit policies on R & D, including R & D in informatics.
(ii)Tertiary institutions, however, including polytechnics, do have modest research programmes in informatics. In Ethiopia's case work in developing Amharic systems is very appropriate as a response to a national need.
Consultancy services are generally provided by centralised institutions such as central computer centres, central statistical offices etc. These departments often provide consultancy to government ministries and departments. The provision of consultancy by the private sector to government is regulated by bureaucratic procedures.
In Zimbabwe the Computer Society operates a register of consultants. It has also drawn up a code of conduct for registered consultants. However, there are no definite policies aimed at promoting the use of local consultants.
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