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Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2005, Emerald Group Publishing Limited
ICT developments in Nigerian libraries
Nigeria is the most populous country in Africa and with nearly 140 million people accounts for approximately one-fifth of the continent’s population. Although less than 25 per cent of Nigerians are urban dwellers, at least 24 cities have populations of more than 100,000. The variety of customs, languages, and traditions among Nigeria’s 250 ethnic groups gives the country a rich diversity.
According to the CIA Handbook (available at: www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook/geos/ni.html) oil-rich Nigeria, long hobbled by political instability, corruption, inadequate infrastructure, and poor macroeconomic management, is undertaking some reforms under the new civilian administration. Nigeria’s former military rulers failed to diversify the economy away from overdependence on the capital-intensive oil sector and the largely subsistence agricultural sector has failed to keep up with rapid population growth. Things are improving somewhat but a general assessment of the telecommunications system shows it to be inadequate system, further limited by poor maintenance. A major expansion is required and a start has been made. Domestic intercity traffic is carried by coaxial cable, microwave radio relay, a domestic communications satellite system with 19 earth stations, and a coastal submarine cable. In addition there are now mobile cellular facilities and the internet is also available. Currently there are over 1,100 internet providers and over three-quarters of a million internet users.
It is against this background that this Special Issue of The Electronic Library has been developed. It is clear that there are many library and information personnel who keenly feel the lack of telecommunications infrastructure and money spend on libraries. However, as the papers reveal, there are many problems to be overcome, but people are trying to do something about it – and there is a slow but steady growth of ICT users.
It will be readily apparent to most readers in developed countries that Nigeria seems to be behind in a lot of areas – North American, European, Australasian and even South-East Asian librarians will say “been there, done that long ago” – but that does not negate the fact that articles about the experience of placing computers in libraries, automation of processes, use of CD-ROMs, introduction of the internet and so on are just as valid from people doing it now, today for the first time, as they were from when many of us did it 20 or 30 years ago.
So I trust you will accept these papers in the spirit in which they were written – by librarians, very conscious that they lag behind much of the world because of political, economic and infrastructure problems, but equally proud of the fact that at last they are beginning to catch up and anxious to show how a huge and diverse country, which is still developing, is starting to make effective use of information and communication technologies.