The topic above may send some negative signals when first read. The write up may seem like and is definitely a rant. Before I proceed I would like to post a little disclaimer;
This write up is solely based on my observations and does not represent the actual state of ICT in Nigeria.
Now we have that out of the way lets dive in. So far so good in Nigeria they have been lots of ICT workshops, events, competitions, expos etc. From all indication, any outsider will nod to the fact that Nigeria is really moving forward in terms of adopting computers in running their everyday business. It is true, people are aware of Facebook, Yahoo mail and Google Search. Do people in Nigeria really know what the computer can do for them? Answer not really. I have the following points and even though this may seem like a minute instance, it really can be expanded to represent the same mindset in other parts or aspects of this country as regards computer usage.
I happened to be on my annual leave and I must say it provided me an opportunity to step out of Lagos and see other parts of the country. I visited a few places including business places during my short break and this made me realize a lot of things. I met with a friend who is the Treasurer for an association and currently trying to prepare end of year financial statement of the organisation. Let me state that my dear friend isn’t an accountant but again how hard could balancing accounts be? So we begun digging into receipts and bank statements and we discovered a lot of holes here and there (Note am neither an accountant aside from counting my own money from the ATM). Some expenses we identified couldn’t be accounted for, some income couldn’t be traced to source and finally Credits in the bank statement couldn’t be tracked to the organization’s branches. (Big accounting headache).
The second scenario happens to be related to projects I have worked on in my current company. We have deployed certain solutions for tertiary institutions that span from result management to admissions processing. During the bidding or presentation stages, there have been scenarios where the school refuses to completely go automated but rather wants to run the already faulty manual system along side the computerized system. This creates bottleneck in that, the initial goal of speeding things up with the use of computers is defeated. To be candid, the project should never have been developed in the first place.
Lastly I happen to discuss a few ideas to my very few non technical friends, about getting them to book for a service on-line. I realize people are sceptical in Nigeria when it comes to internet banking or e-commerce as a whole. So when I proposed the idea they initially went with the expression “cool” then the question comes “how do I pay for it? “. The moment I said “With your ATM card”, I got a total rejection of the idea. There is still fear of the internet amongst Nigerians. So I put forward the question “do you book for your flights on-line?”, I definitely get a yes. When I push to ask why they trust to make payments for their flight reservation, one of the reasons is “I can sue them when anything goes wrong”. A further look into the on-line flight reservation system in Nigeria, you will realize the few people who risk making their reservations on-line are doing so not because of the convenience but rather because flights book on-line (especially on Aero Contractors) are way cheaper. And yet still we still have people who will rather pay at the counter no matter the cost.
So with all the sad reports, I can’t help but wonder how best we can improve this situation. Right now I think we need a thorough re-education of the population on the benefits of using computers and why adopting a computer lifestyle is a blessing and not something to be scared of. Of what use is having a very well designed computer system that never goes mainstream. So far at least am glad people are using the ATMs at the moment. We need to adopt the same strategies the banks used in forcing people to make use of theATMs.