4.1 In this chapter, we assess the use of IT in two organizations which have implemented end-user driven IT systems in policy formulation and decision making. The aim is to learn what IT structures and skills are required to effectively use IT in policy, research and social process domains, and how these structures and skills are best nurtured and sustained in Africa.

4.2 Two organizations in Nigeria, the National Planning Commission (NPC) and the Forestry Management, Evaluation and Coordinating Unit (FORMECU), are used as case studies. The two organizations make use of computer-mediated technologies in decision making, but neither has electronic communication facilities. One would have preferred to select or9anizations that make use of various IT facilities, such as those in Southern Africa, but the study contract did not make provision for visits outside Nigeria.

National Planning Commission (NPC)

4.3 The National Planning Commission which is situated in Lagos, is responsible for economic planning in Nigeria. The organization uses computers in two of its divisions, namely Perspective Planning Division and the Macro Division. During our visit to the Commission, we held interviews with the heads of the two divisions as well as the professionals serving under them. Their IT facilities were also inspected

Origin of IT Introduction

4.4 IT was introduced in the two divisions out of necessity. In the Macro Division, the introduction of IT was championed as invaluable for policy formulation and effective economic management at the highest political level. In the Perspective Planning Di vision. computers were considered necessary because jobs became more sophisticated and the old equipments were grossly inadequate to cope with the desk functions of the professionals; modeling the long term development of the economy requires the extensive use of IT. Lack of manpower also made it necessary to acquire computers so that the few personnel in the division could cope with the volume of work.

Hardware Equipment

4.5 The Commission operates two types of systems: 8 DOS-based stand alone PCs and; a Unix-based multi-user system with 8 terminals. Each of the senior professionals has a PC in his/her room while the junior professionals use the 3 PC and the Unix system in the computer room. The peripherals attached to the systems include power stabilizers, uninterruptible power supply (UPS), Epson LQ 1170 and Laser Jet 4si printers.


4.6 The software being used on the systems include: Time Series Processor (TSP); LOTUS 11-2-3; WordPerfect; RMSM, a World Bank software for macroeconomic consistency modeling: SOW-DMP: and SOW-DBF. The last two are data management software, developed by t he Centre for World Food Studies (SOW-VU). University of Amsterdam , Netherlands. SOW-VU is offering technical assistance to the National Planning Commission on the Nigerian Perspective Planning Project with funding from the UNDP. SOW-DMP is used for processing time series data, and for construction and documentation of t ime series data, while SOW-DBF is used for extracting data series from an associated data bank.

Systems Purchase & Maintenance

4.7 The computer systems in the Macro Division were bought directly by the Commission with the World Bank loan while UNDP paid and procured the computer systems in the Perspective Planning Division. The systems in both divisions are being maintained by an indigenous company. However, while the UNDP pays for the maintenance of the equipment in the Perspective Planning Division, th e Commission pays for the maintenance of those in the Macro Division.

Uses & Users of the IT

4.8 The users of the computers in the Commission are the heads of Divisions / and the professional staff. The computers are used for report writing, production of the annual national Economic and Statistical Review, and policy analysis and formulation. Some of the secretariat staff also use the computers for word processing9 The members of staff are regularly sent on training programmes on the use of

Training on the use of IT

4.9 The members of staff are regularly sent on training programmes on the use of IT. Some of the members have been sponsored by the Commission to attend courses on computer appreciation and some others on the use of the computer in model ing. Some members of staff in the Macro division have also been sent to the World Bank in Washington at various times to learn how to use the RMSM model while a few professional staff in the Perspective Planning Division have gone to SOW-VU in the Netherla nds thrice on a month-long training on general equilibrium modeling and the use of the SOW-DMP and SOW-DBF software. The Washington training programme was funded with the World Bank loan while the UNDP paid for the training in the Netherlands.

Factors in the successful implementation of IT

4.10 A central factor in the acquisition of IT in the National Planning Commission was the consensus reached on the need to introduce the use of computers in the organization. Hence, the members were very enthusiastic in learning and using it in performin g their duties. In addition, the government supported the use of IT in the Commission.

Problems in the use of IT

4.11 Faulty equipment: The first set of equipment sent by the UNDP to the Perspective Planning Divisio n did not work. The procurement office of the UNDP in New York sent the wrong equipment to Nigeria: the computers were of the wrong voltage (Nigeria uses 220 Volts while the computers sent use 110 Volts). Of course one would have expected the IT personnel in the commission to switch the jumper in the power supply cases from 110 volts to 220 volts. However, it would not have been practicable to switch the monitor of the equipment supplied then.

4.12 Unstable Power Supply: Lack of reliable supply of electric ity disrupts the work of the Commission and at times frustrates its members. Although some of the computers are connected to the UPS, the latter only allows the members about one hour of operation which is not enough for any extensive work. For example, if there is a power outage in the middle of a model simulation. the one hour provided by the UPS may not be sufficient to complete the work and the member of staff may have to start all over again when the power is restored. It is hoped that the disruption i n the work of the Commission would be reduced when the Commission finally installs the electricity standby generator bought under the UNDP assistance .

4.13 Limited capacity of the computers: The storage capacity of the hard disk in most of the stand alone PCs is less than 60 me gabytes (MB) The limited storage capacity has prevented the members of staff of the Macro division from using the extended versi on of the RMSM model software. The division has the new version but is still using the old version due to the hard disk storage problem.

4.14 Time constraint: Some members of staff of the Macro division claim that they hadn't been able to master the use of the advanced software for modeling software because of frequent interruptions associated with other administrative duties.

lmpact of use of IT

4.15 The members of staff felt that the use of computers had improved their productivity. They find editing of documents easier and faster. They have been able to solve complex models with the use of the compute rs as well as carry out sophisticated statistical analyses. However, no serious planning has been done with the use of the RMSM model.

4.16 The heads of the two divisions believed that, after the exit of the donor agencies. they would be able to sustain the use of IT in the Commission through the support of the government. They believed that it wouldn't cost the government too much to mai ntain and upgrade the existing systems.

Forestry Management. Evaluation. and Coordination Unit (FORMECU)

4.17 The Forestry Management Evaluation and Coordination Unit, Nigeria, is a unit under the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources. FORMECU's work focuses on forestry resource preservation and prevention of desertification. The unit is involved in c ollaborative research with some universities in Nigeria and it also participates in international agencies forestry,y projects. The national office used to be at Ibadan but this was moved to Abuja in December 1993. However. Ibadan is one out the four regio nal offices the others being in Kano. Jos. and Enugu.

4.18 We visited the Ibadan office of FORMECU mainly because it used to be the National office, and hence, inherited most of the infrastructures that used to be in the Office. We had discussions with the regional coordinator, project coordinators and the co mputer manager.

Origin of IT introduction

4.19 the volume of data coming from surveys on forestry resources was too heavy for the calculator to analyze, hence, the need to use the computer for data analysis, storage and retrieval.

Hardware Equipment

4.20 The regional coordinator's office has 3 IBM PCs with 2 Laser Jet printers . a UPS and a stabilizer. The coordinator also has a laptop for his personal use. One project coordinator has an IBM PC with a UPS, a stabilizer and a Laser Jet printer in his o ffice while each of the other two project coordinators has an IBM-compatible PC with a UPS, a, stabilizer and an EPSON LQ 1170 printer in his office. The computer room is equipped with a PC-MOS bas ed multi-user system. The multi-user system comprises an lEM-compatible PC as the server, 4 Wyse terminals, a stabilizer and an EPSON DFX-5000 printer.


4.21 The software being used on the systems include: LOTUS 1-2-3; WordPerfect ; Professional Write; DBase IV, Ventura; and SPSS.

Systems Purchase & Maintenance

4.22 The computer systems were purchased through the assistance of a Nigerian vendor in Lagos. The purchases were made from funds provided by the UNDP for the TFAP (Tropical Forestry Action Plan) project and the World Bank for its Forestry II project. The computer systems are being maintained by a local company.

Uses & Users of the IT

4.23 The regional coordinator and all divisional heads have computers in their offices. All the heads and the professionals under them know how to use the computer. The computers are used for data storage and retrieval, data analysis and report writing.

Training on the use of IT

4.24 The professionals have attended local computer appreciation cours es organized specifically for them and their counterparts in other regions of the country. Emphasis seemed to have- been on the use of word processor for report writing and spreadsheet for data analysis. In addition. the head of the forestry management div ision attended a short training course on the use of computer in forestry management, and the computer manager was in the U S for a short training course on microcomputer applications in agriculture. The unit is also planning to send one of the professiona ls abroad to learn how to use the geographic information system (GIS).

Factors in the successful implementation of IT

4.25 One factor that has contributed to the successful use of IT is the cooperation among the professionals. The computer manager also helps in preventing9 frequent break down of equipment by regularly inspecting and fixing simple faults in the systems .

Problems encountered in the use of IT

4.26 One major problem encountered is the unstable power supply, even though some of the Comput er systems have UPS and the unit has a stand-by generator . A top official of the unit indicated that it is very expensive to run a generator while the UPS for the multi-user system is faulty and hence, cannot prevent the disruption of work whenever there is a power outage. Another problem concerns replacement of parts. The Unit has 4 IBM PCs and, their parts are expensive and also not easy to find. In fact, one of the IBM PCs broke down for several months because of the problem of finding replacements for the faulty parts.

Impact of use of IT

4.27 The members of staff felt that the impact of the use of computers in their work had been tremendous. They now produce neater reports, store and retrieve data better, and process data faster. They also believed that human resources are being] used more effectively.

Plans for sustainability of use of IT

4.28 It is believed that the counterpart funding provided by the Federal and State governments would be enough to maintain the use of IT in the unit whenever the donors stop funding the projects. In addition, FORMECU has plans to commercialize some of its services in order to generate funds to maintain its infrastructures. Some of the services to be offered include Design of Projects, Conducting Feasibility Studies , Training, Sales of Products, and publication of Forestry statistics.

4.29 Additional case studies would throw more light on the continental perspective of the structure and skills needed for a successful implementation of IT. Nevertheless, several lesso ns have emerged from our survey of the two Nigerian organizations, which are divergent in terms of IT use; it seems that the use of IT has been relatively better institutionalized at FORMECU than at NPC.