An interesting thread, gentlemen.  I'd like to add a few comments:

As one who has worked with the dissemination of information technology in
Nigeria (albeit not "quietly") I can easily say that Nigeria has a serious
lack of people with strong technical skills in contemporary PC networking
and the Internet.  That's not to say that there are no Nigerians with such
skills, there are highly competent people like Sunday peppered throughout
the country, but not enough experts for a country of 110 million.

What I believe Eberhard was laughing at was the denial of the magnitude of
the Y2K situation as expressed by the minister.  It may well be that
Nigeria is largely Y2K compliant, but why, given the demonstrated
incompetencies of the various government agencies in this area, should we
believe them when they pronounce it?  If Nigeria is Y2K compliant, it is
because few critical systems depend upon computers and most of the
computers that are still working in the country are less than five years
old.  (As one of my cohorts at the University of Jos was fond of saying,
"Everyday is Y2K in Nigeria!")

Eberhard has a less-than-diplomatic way of describing his perception of the
true state of affairs, but, finesse aside, I have to agree with him.  As I
have been taught by many of my mentors: "Accurately defining the problem is
half of the solution."

Sure Nigeria is a "giant" and sure no one likes to be laughed at.  But
ridiculous statements need to challenged by thoughtful people and not
whitewashed in the name of nationalism.  Nigeria has suffered mightily for
trying to maintain the veneer of a dynamic, modern, and democratic country
under decades of debilitating and repressive military regimes.   Progress
will only come through taking a sober look at what needs to be accomplished
and using whatever tools are available to attack the problems.

As I toured various universities around Nigeria I inevitably ran into the
same thing: administrators all-to-willing to overstate and exaggerate their
systems so as to impress the foreigner.  (I also run into this in my
private sector and university consulting here in the 'States, so I suspect
it's a universal compulsion…)  It wasn't until we dug into the details and
exposed the true state of affairs that I could be of any assistance and my
hosts could see rational solutions.

Last year I attended Afrinet '99 in Abuja.  There were representatives from
numerous African countries, many of which demonstrate significant progress
towards using digital communications.  It was interesting to hear many of
these representatives pleading with and chiding Nigeria.  "You have the
money.  You have the resources.  You have the manpower," they were saying.
"You should be leading us.  Not us leading you!"

I agree.

Nigeria needs to build a society that will welcome and accommodate her
brilliant, far-flung sons and daughters.  Nigeria needs to make digital
communication a priority and broaden access for greater participation.
(Not stuff data communications under the sluggish NITEL and charge her own
universities millions for a satellite license.  Ki!)  And Nigeria needs to
focus on training a LARGE cadre of information technology professionals to
tame the technology and make it serve Nigerians… and eventually the entire

-- Cliff

At 05:36 AM 11/29/99 GMT, Kelechi Eke wrote:
>>Well, the Truth is the fact that Nigeria and Africa as a whole is
>>behind in Technology from whatever angle one looks at it and no
>>aspect of it is asing.
>I personally know some fellow Africans that are on top of Technology.


Cliff Missen

University of Iowa, Iowa City, USA
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Internetworks in International Development

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