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AFRIK-IT  May 1999

AFRIK-IT May 1999

Subject:

Re: Jos Magic

From:

Cliff Missen <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

African Network of IT Experts and Professionals (ANITEP) List

Date:

Wed, 26 May 1999 10:51:24 +0200

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (98 lines)

Hi all!

Many, many thanks to Jeff for highlighting what is being done at the
University of Jos.  Believe me, a lot of hard work has been undertaken by a
wide array of UNIJOS faculty and staff to make this network such a success.

I should mention that this all started with our Vice Chancellor
("University President" for those in America) who toured the U.S. several
years ago and realized that digital technology was going to radically alter
higher education and returned to Nigeria with a mission to adopt digital
communication technologies.

It has not been easy: Nigerian universities are woefully underfunded (being
the popular whipping boy of the military types which have run this country
for the last 15 years.)  For our VC, Prof. Nenfort Gomwalk, choosing
networks and computers over building rehabilitation, road repairs, and
library improvements was a bold decision.

But there's still a lot of work to be done.  Most administrators and
faculty at other Nigerian universities are where their Western counterparts
were seven years ago: entirely unsure what networks and computers have to
do with the time-honored business of teaching.  Talking about the World
Wide Web here is like selling television over the radio: it sure sounds
good, but it's hard to imagine what it actually looks like.

However, Nigeria IS making progress and promises to kick some fanny in the
near future!  <grin>

One of the things we've stressed at UNIJOS grows out of the years of
systems work and consulting I've done in the U.S.: given the immense amount
of time, energy, and resources it takes to build and support a network over
the long-term, there's little to be saved by implementing a half-solution
system.  The added cost of purchasing a world-class network operating
system diminishes dramatically when compared with the cost of supporting a
difficult or kludgy OS.  (The zealots amongst us should take note: we use
both NT and Linux at UNIJOS...<grin, DHM!>)  The cost of purchasing the
latest software applications so that users are immediately productive is
negligible compared to the cost of supporting older, more difficult
software and losing the participation of frustrated users.

This recipe isn't for everyone, but those who can "afford" it will find
much more participation and productivity.

As I learn the ropes of networking and computer systems in the U.S., I have
the luxury of visiting other universities, seeing how they implement their
technology, and mimicking their successful practices.  Here at UNIJOS, most
of our staff has had to rely upon their imaginations and stories they've
heard from faraway places.  This June we will conduct a training at UNIJOS
to start the ball rolling for other Nigerian universities.  We'll be
presenting our progress, warts and all, for our colleagues to consider and
evaluate.  Our aim is to create a culture of helpfulness and cooperative
competition.

Your feedback and success stories would be much appreciated as well.

Those wanting more information about Jos or our Computer Centre will find
such at the URLs below.

Cheers!

-- Cliff


At 09:45 PM 5/2/99 -5, Jeff Cochrane wrote:
>Greetings Afrik-ITes!
>
>Imagine a university computer laboratory with perhaps 30
>workstations, fully networked via a fiber campus backbone with full
>Intranet access plus Internet mail, requiring only a pipe to the Internet
>for global Web access.  Fill the room with undergraduate students
>(yes!) working on term papers, spreadsheet assignments, and
>multimedia experiments.  A small cluster of students wait at the door
>for their appointed time of access.  A lab monitor tells those at the
>workstations when their own time is up to make room for the
>newcomers.  A generator chugs in the background to keep things
>going.
<clip>


-----

Cliff Missen

University of Jos, Plateau State, Nigeria
University of Iowa, Iowa City, USA

[log in to unmask]
[log in to unmask]

Internetworks in International Development
     http://intlinet.lib.uiowa.edu

The Jos Project
     http://intlinet.lib.uiowa.edu/josproject

Cliff Missen's Home Page
     http://www.avalon.net/~cmissen

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