Internet services in Nigerian private universities: a case study.

Author:Anyira, Isaac Echezonam
Position:Case study


Inadequacy of current and relevant information for teaching, learning and research had been the bane of university education in Nigeria (Okonofua, 2008). Efforts had also been made to improve the situation through interlibrary loan and document delivery services, but the challenges persisted (Adika,2003). It was in this light that the Internet was introduced into the educational system to bridge the prevailing information gap (Okonofua, 2008). The Internet began in 1969 as ARPANet (Advanced Research Project Agency Network) by theUS Department of Defense to share military intelligence and research with university sources. The Internet has since the 1990s become a widely-used civilian tool for communication, research, entertainment, education, advertisement, etc. (Hinson, 2006). The Internet has become integral part of university education as it plays an undisputable role in meeting information and communication needs of staff and students.

The Internet has made it possible for scholars at different locations on the globe to exchange ideas on various fields of study and also allows students and lecturers to communicate both within and across international borders (Luambano and Nawe, 2004). The history of Internet accessibility and use in Nigeria started in 1991 when a few pioneering groups began to offer limited email services (Eshekels Associates, 2001). In July 1995, the regional information network for Africa (RINAF) commenced Internet services at the Computer Science Department of Yaba College of technology, and through the Nigerian postal service (NIPOST), in a collaborative effort with Rose Clayton Nigeria Limited (Adomi, 2005). The Internet services at that time included email, telnet, and gopher. Internet users had to pay for both access and usage for sending and receiving e-mail messages, with the billing system being based on the length of message being sent. Most of the Internet service providers (ISPs) then operated a store-forward messaging system using unix-to-unix copy protocol (UUCP) (Adomi, 2005).

The world wide web (WWW) became available in Nigeria in 1996, while full Internet services became available in 1998, and number of NCC (Nigerian Communications Commission) licensed Internet service Providers rose to over 150 by 2001 (Adomi, 2005). With an estimated total population of over 140 million people (National Population Commission, 2006), Nigeria is the most populated black nation in the world, with Internet hosts as low as 1,094 (Adomi, 2005). In late 2003, Nigeria had a total of 750,000 Internet users and 60 users per 10,000 inhabitants representing 0.5 percent of the population (ITU, 2004). Nigeria had a total of 853,000 PC's and 0.71 pc's per 100 inhabitants as at 2003 (ITU, 2004). As a matter of fact, Adomi (2003) stated that the first cyber cafe in Delta State was set up in 1999, and by 2001, there were nine (9) of them and by 2003, there were 18 of them. This number has increased tremendously. The history of the Internet has long been linked to university education. This is because the adoption of the Internet in university system has intensified access to information and communication by providing un-reserved access to e-mail messages, web boards, online services, e-publication and so on.

Western Delta University Oghara (which is a private University in Delta State) was approved by the federal government in 2007. The university however, did not admit students until 2008. The institution currently has 564 students drawn from the colleges of Natural and applied sciences and social and management sciences. There are 57 academic staff and 85 non-academic staff in the university (WDU staff payroll, 2010; WDU Student List, 2010).

Internet services became available in the university in 2009. Though the service was slow and unreliable, it was also restricted to the administrative division of the institution until January, 2010, when the service improved slightly and became available to staff who have personal laptops and were given access codes by the ICT department. This study therefore, seeks to investigate the accessibility and use of Internet services in the university.

Literature Review

Staff and students of African Universities often lament the lack of current materials held in university libraries, and in consequence, efforts are continually made to improve the situation (Adika, 2003). Measures put in place to solve the prevailing problem include the introduction of inter-library loan and document delivery services. However, Adika (2003) noted that these efforts could not solve the problem of lack of access to current information for all faculty and students. As a result, many universities began to provide Internet access to their staff and students to foster educational activities of research, instruction and literature searching and to serve as a source of...

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