GV Essay Competition: Submissions from Sub-Saharan Africa

Hackathon at iHub in Nairobi, Kenya. Photo by Eric Hersman via Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Hackathon at iHub in Nairobi, Kenya. Photo by Eric Hersman via Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

As part of the 2015 GV Summit, we invited our community members and partners to write essays that explain and illuminate the real-world effects of an Internet-related policy on citizens in a specific country or region. The goal of this competition was to amplify the voices and perspectives of our community and to help show the world the effects of law and practice, and that they did. You can read the winning entries here.

Below are all essay submissions that focused on Sub-Saharan Africa. Enjoy!

How Internet Policies Affect My Community

What is internet?
Internet is a means of connecting a computer to any other computer in the world via dedicated routers and servers. When two computers are connected over the internet, they can send all kinds of information such as text, graphics, and voice, video and computer programmers.

What is internet policy?
Internet policy refers to personal privacy concerning transactions of data via the internet. It involves the exercise of control over the type and amount of information a person reveals about himself and who may access such information. Internet policy differs from country to country, state to state, city to city, even town to town.

How government policy affects citizens
Government internet policy affects citizens in the sense that people are restricted in what they do. For example, I was at Mokola and the man there wanted to download a video about the generations of computer for us to watch but we weren’t able to download it because the country we are in doesn’t support the downloading of the video. Also in china the citizens are controlled with the use of the great firewall and the people are being controlled on the internet.

In my area, internet facilities are not constant for example Wi-Fi which is part of internet facilities is not available in most areas until when downloaded by paying for it. This is not meant to be. It is part of the internet policy I am talking about.

We can also see that now that we are in the jet age, a lot of people misuse the internet. For example, a girl telling her parents that she want to use the internet but later watches videos like films [illicit films] and also play games. This is also an example of the internet policy I am talking about. Internet policy has affected not only my country {Nigeria} but also other countries’ must say because it can’t be known when the network fluctuates. For this to stop the government must act on this. There are also a lot of ways that internet policy affects most places negatively. This policy affects journalists because they might want to get information from the internet but the government policy binding that country may not allow them{journalists} to get the required information that they need at that particular point in time, day, month, or even year.

How using the internet increases public access to information
The internet increases public access to information by providing knowledge of certain things, makes the public aware of things going on around them. The people will be able to search and get whatever information they want. The people will be aware of different things going on in the country or community. It also educates the people about what is going on in the country and problems affecting the country. You also don’t have to go through any process before using the internet unlike wi-fi.it also educates the public about serious issues or problems and also because the world has turn into a global village. It helps us to know about events that happened or just happened. It also increases public access to information by telling us what is going on around the world and it is always easier to get through the help of the internet. People who have access to internet do get information easily than people who have access to the internet. It is faster to get information through the internet than through other means. It helps us to know about job opportunities, shopping online and also helps us to get answers to our assignment without having to go through any stress. It helps us to know about the problems happening in our environment and their solutions. It helps us to know about past events and the causes of disasters in our community. For example, lecturers or teachers can send notes or assignment to the students through internet. It helps us to know about mistakes in the past and our to overcome them in the present. It helps us to know about the climates of our country or other countries. It helps to know about all disciplines {subjects or profession} e.g. law, medicine, bio-chemistry ,mass-communication, political science, accounting, marketing, orthopedics, playing of games, watching of videos, reading of news and information. It helps us to know about things going on in other countries. It also helps us to know about the resources available in country. It helps us to know about the effects of things going on in our environment. It helps us to know about the advantages and disadvantages of things happening around us. It helps us to know the control of the things going in our environment. It gives us the solutions to the disasters happening in our environment. It helps us to know about places around the world. It gives us information about current events happening around the world. It helps us to know about things happening in our environment and the effects or impact it makes out of us. It helps us to know the mistakes of our past leaders and how we can avoid them and we can also learn from their past events.


The Contextual Analysis of Social Media – A Case of Internet in Developing Countries

Around the world, the use of social media became a tool of ‘insecurity’ and for creating social change, leading to peace. Much of the impact was felt in the Arab world, and somewhat in the west, triggered by social economic discontent and maladministration. Unrest spread quickly through Arab countries in North Africa and the Middle East and the impact of the political changes was likely to be profound and difficult to predict.

Apart from North Africa, the rest of the continent was not affected. It is yet to experience hostile political activism from its (social media) use. When the conditions for war became ripe, social media aided revolts against regimes.

Use of social media
Hardly do staffs of organizations and companies spend a single day without checking in for chats, getting to know the minds of other people, and starting new relationships. In fact, to most users, visiting the site is a priority, despite having highly engaging schedules at work places.

The use of social media for political reasons is still row in Uganda, though; there are some aspects of it emerging, especially visible during campaigns for political offices. It is limited more to expression of what subscribers have on their mind, for cementing social relationships, to pass time, to start romantic relationships, to promote business ideas, and to trace old friends.

Cost-Benefit Analysis
It also provides an alternative means of communication, cheaper than other media channels in many respects. While telephone calls cost more than a dollar to make a point to a single person around the world, the same amount enables mass communication, until exhaustion when social media sites are taken advantage of.

Without having to meet high costs of travel abroad and back home to meet several tasks, it takes only almost no time and effort in some places of the country, which have access to internet, to fulfill several tasks in much less time.

The manufacture of internet-enabling phones made life in the world of social media even more interesting; without having to go to class to learn how to use it, barely with so little to learn, majority of young people now use it, though, internet knowledge is limited to chatting and betting.

But also circumstances limit them to having such amount of knowledge, to survive through betting and maintain loving relationships. The life-system in Uganda orients citizens to work hard to survive, rather than complain about leaders and politico-economics. Politics is an end for the ‘idle,’ and a reservation of those already surviving by it.

Social media is most respected in the modern world for its role in generating and spreading violent protests and armed rebellions around the world, most especially in the Arab peninsula.

While that is true, social media can be put into good use, without compromising peace and stability. For example, it can be used to promote business ideas and organization values in the eyes of clients.

The widespread poverty, limited incomes, and low savings, whether perpetuated by the political class, motivate Ugandans to work harder and live on than generate conditions for violent change. A lot of people struggle to find a meal a day; the able-to-dos are restricted to certain choices of food that are cheap, and do not constitute balanced deities. Under such circumstances, social media is applied to seek and share strategies for escape, amongst which is the adoption of the tool of violence.

Thinking hard about the situation provokes one to wonder whether the bad socioeconomic situation was deliberately conditioned by government to influence citizens to focus more on developing survival strategies necessary to obtain primary needs (food and meaningful standards of living) than give them space and time to nurse nationalistic feelings for situation change, through channels as social media.

Opting to spend time in politics and generate conditions for socio-economic change, only detaches change agents from primary engagements necessary for them to survive. Besides, it is impossible to spent time advocating change on an empty stomach and work under a cloud of uncertainties about life and feelings of hopelessness. The consequence of that is violence against self and others, through substance abuse and crime. Under these conditions, the social media would be helpful at facilitating venting and release of bad emotions.

The bad emotions lead to aggressive behaviors and turn out costly to society as much as to the aggressor. Aggressive people use violence as coping mechanism during hard economic and political times to make ends meet by any means, through violent robberies, violent protests, rampant corruption, violent relationships, and mob justice against bad economic, social and political elements in the community.

Today, the menace of internal insecurity occurring among citizens, perpetuated by fellow countrymen, is hurting and creating fear at the domestic front. Whatever yields from the hands of hardworking Ugandans ends up into the pockets of robbers. They do not only end at denying fellow citizens what belongs to them, but going ahead to relieve them of their life obligations, through acts of murder!

The murderers are people, who because of the hard economic times, marginalizations, and lack of redress from concerned authorities, resort to costly strategies to make ends meet. The use of social media prevails perfectly in such situations as channels, through which citizens advocate structural reforms.

Social media networking is still a privilege of urban dwellers, because of their closeness to influential areas, where new ideas from the rest of the world collect before spreading to the rest of the country. These include the use of phones with face book provisions, access to computers, and access to power.

The limited use of social media, alone, does not save the country from popular revolts, change of political guards or socio-economic situation. But the same conditions, under which Ugandans live, will one day turn around to widely consume authorities for their irresponsibility, with or without it (social media).

Until now analyst in the world find the provocation of a revolution through face book and twitter, among the existing channels of communication debatable. If only 5% of Libyans have internet access. How social media produces mass social change is a mystery. But many years before the introduction of computers in the country, revolutions took place. The process, though, is much longer. By the time it becomes necessary to act for change, mass mental illness, due to hopeless-living, could have weakened hopes in the minds of those still struggling on.

By the time conditions start to enforce change to occur, social media gadgets will be widespread around the country. They will ease change with far less effort, by highlighting the maladministration, inhuman living, and hopelessness, to provoke anger, hatred, and violence to enforce change. The opposite will also be true, when those in authority get emotionally-driven to act in people’s favor, so that the adverse effects of violence are prevented.

Presently, there is growing insecurity and fear among citizens, which could spread to reach the class of Ugandans, who currently feel secure, so that; from self-hatred, there is mutual, group, and national hatred for everything in the country, including the leadership. It is at this time that the use of social media for political, economic, and social change will become relevant in mobilizing and coordinating rebellions.

Meaningful change is possible when its need is so massive that signs make it clear to discontented citizens that leadership would be faced with little or no opposition; change would occur with even far less damage to the economy and to lives. The use of social media warrantees certain values to protect oneself from self-harm and image-destruction.
Social media applicability for economic and social change is far from being real in Uganda. The ‘barometer’ reads peace and hard work for survival. The use of social media can turn out hurting, if no protective values and standards of use are set by the user.


Policy of Internet in Africa

African culture is it just a prop or a simple heap of things “”folk”” and insignificant compared to the high standards of the macro-economy? Not! It is now shown that development can not be articulated only to economic parameters. In addition, There are other parameters related, cultural parameters. And culture, to hatch and reach its perfect efficiency needs a tool to promote and extension that exceeds all boundaries to give Africa a place in this globalization. This tool is the Internet.

Largely dependent on international aid and address the social, cultural, economic, and the most basic political resolve, Africa she has only the means and the time to think about protecting a new cultural imperialism I need regular. Should it only endorse technology transfer putting him at risk of losing its culture? Did she win to submit to the new culture of the Internet? The Internet-there should not come only after the critical needs of African countries are met? What solutions and what place for African culture on the Internet?

If the progress of the Internet has dramatically in developed countries, it is not least in Africa. Despite the immense difficulties and fears due in particular to the weakness of the telephone network but also the fear of acculturation, Africa seeking to enter the Internet to break the isolation, particularly in cultural matters. It is also necessary that the Internet is not a find for Africa over which you just use without serving, to consume without producing

Cultural issues of the Internet in Africa then arise in two terms:
The Internet, a new form of acculturation or imperialism? Or, conversely, should it see the Internet a real opportunity for Africa to show its true culture, its true face.

We will try in the first part of our thinking to present some dangers of the Internet for culture. Then we will present the benefits by making use of practical cases of cultural uses of the Internet in Africa. Finally we will study the changes induced or Internet influences on African culture.


International institutions, centers of scientific and academic research, the major production companies are showing renewed interest in the continent which are initiated various installation projects and Internet development. Following France, Britain today declares its intention to establish and strengthen its African policy, even opening the way for a new type of alliance that authoritative voices have called “”Franco-British policy Africa “”Furthermore there is a lobby for an African policy of the United States. It is social and cultural. But in a country where it is left to free enterprise role to ensure the development of IT, it can be defined only as a further development of the market economy, with the key, the abolition or absorption ideological and cultural boundaries, standardization of behavior and ideas. As highlighted Nelson Thall, a disciple of Marshal McLuhan, the shameful project of the Internet is to bring the world to think and write like North Americans. That is, a globalization of the American “”way of life”” which would make it an cultural model. This is when the dice but more integration of cultural assimilation.

We should add to this that the Internet is also a “”place”” or unfortunately rampant perverse prostitutes networks of pedophiles, terrorists and other sectarian ideologies that can cause slippage within an African youth eager for models social. The parent can not control his offspring, it is feared a perversion of African youth who runs the risk of losing cultural references. The absence or weakness of the regulation thus allows harmful excesses in social welfare and the problem of slippage remains. Freedom of information is a basic principle of the Internet could therefore lead to licentiousness.

A protectionist attitude certainly not stand the wind of history nor the desire of African youth to take its place in the global village. It is up to Africans to make the Internet a tool for promotion and affirmation of African cultural identity.
The Internet is not and will just be a communication tool as well as telephone, fax, newspaper, book etc. It would be vain to see him as a kind of acculturation. Despite the specter of globalization and American imperialism in view of the strong presence of the English language it is clear that with JC GUEDEON Cyberspace is never a zero solution. In other words, the space occupied by English-language sites do not take away space for other languages1. Promoted this way, the Internet ceases to be a threat to African culture. As it is provided a fertile breeding ground term?


While it is true that the Internet appearance, carries with it the signs of acculturation, it is also a powerful tool for promoting culture. Arrested at his primary tool senses and network, the Internet does not run the risk of acculturation. This is the main argument of many authors who believe that the Internet is a medium certainly polymorphic but simple medium nonetheless. This is what Jean Claude GUEDEON supports affirming Internet, remember again, creates nothing by itself. Bearer of a new deal, he led the human granularity to recover the turning racing, competition, but also new forms of collaboration that will cross the country, institutions and individual behavior

This means that the Internet is a tool that can influence the different forms of culture that pre-exist offline. And if we put the debate in terms of acculturation, the first thing to notice is that the Internet is not a unified space. We can consider, finally, that there is no concept of “”public”” on the Internet and therefore, in its informational form, the Internet is more like a library has a television station. This less than dismiss, well reduces the risk of acculturation through the Internet.

That is not enough for it to make the Internet a promotion of African culture tool. It is up to Africans at dice to give substance to this empty shell that is the Internet and make a rational use to enjoy all that the Internet offers opportunities for promotion and the culture of conservation .dropoff window

The Uses of the Internet in the culture of service in Africa

Internet usage for cultural purposes are many, then we scinderons into three broad categories based on the results or effects they produce. This is mostly for us to promote culture, its preservation but also sharing tool on African culture. It should also be noted that the Internet has led to new practices, new way of living that influences cultural practices.


Botswana Internet Governance Portrait

Botswana is a very small populated country with openness to high sophisticated technological equipments which helps its citizens to get to know what is going on around the world and community near them.

There is a vast different from the last 10years as compared to now with the rate of daily dependency on technological services. Botswana are people who are naturally satisfied with the little they have and sees technology as a modern lifestyle which cannot be afforded; thanks to young scholars and some motivational speakers who brought light into what we can make useful from technology. Nowadays, technology is with almost everybody because the elderly are now using internet services, cellphones and the likes to get needed information.

Issues relating to IG in Botswana currently form lively and interactive discussions, which have brought light to issues like the liberalization of the Botswana Telecommunications market, equivalent technologies, Internet Connectivity benefitting Botswana living in rural areas, entertainment, eGovernment, pornography and infrastructure challenges. BITS had to hit the ground running given the recent commissioning of the submarine West African Cable System (WACS) linking Botswana and Namibia to the UK, coupled with the former’s International Connectivity to the East African Cable System (EASSy) enhanced the country’s fusion to the information highway – another major step of becoming a knowledge-based society.

“For instance, we perceive IG to the proverbial narrative of the six blind men touching the elephant, each one stating what they think it is, based on where they are touching. Likewise, politicians may view the Internet or ICT as a tool that will enable them to reach out to their constituencies like parties making a face book and recruits members which we witnessed greatly this year for the just ended 2014 general elections also develop an online interrogative platform that shows different agendas of the government to its people,opportunities and career guidance. On a broader perspective, academics see it as a tool for teaching/learning and IT technicians see solutions for everyday problems while young people view it as a lifestyle tool showcasing what is happening, when and where.

Furthermore, we see that there as being a gradual decadence in morals as mostly secondary school students uses the internet for a bad cause like watching porn's, insult politicians, create abusive images or programs which forms deformation of character. I am happy that our government has sensitized the nation on the awareness of technology and how it can be used to everybody’ benefits.

BITS, a de facto professional organization for ICT practitioners, operates on a non-profit and voluntary basis, representing the various information and communications technology stakeholders in the government, industry and academic sectors of Botswana. BITS also help individuals and organizations to take maximum advantage of current world-wide ICT developments and advancements. Recent developments show BITS as the voice of the ICT industry.

More over, there was a regional conference in 2012 on internet policies which was chaired in Gaborone, Botswana on the 10th-12th September of which BITS made a presentation on ICT Consumer Protection.


The Internet and its Effects in Kenya

At the end of the 20th century, the world witnessed a move from industrial revolution toward an information revolution. Principal to this revolution has been the rapid growth of the new technologies otherwise known as the information and communication technologies (ICTs) which include the internet, email, and mobile telephony among others. Of these, the internet is the most pervasive and ubiquitous in terms of capabilities such as being a repository of information, a channel or medium to send and receive information. Because of its exponential potential, debates are raging around its governance, control and access including interrogating whether or not the internet is a right or a public good. According to the Kenyan government, the internet has come to play as a source of information and a medium of transmitting and receiving information, it is therefore difficult to not see the internet as a right. And as a right it is also not presumptuous to consider or classify it as a public good. The Kenyan government internet policies has various effects to citizens that is the activists, bloggers, journalists and the others.

Though the current Kenyan government (Jubilee Government) seems committed to internet freedom, there are pieces of legislation such as the Kenya Information and Communication Act (KICA) 2013 and the Media Council of Kenya Act 2013, both passed in December 2013 that claw back on the freedoms provided for in the constitution. Together they limit freedom of expression and restricting media independence. In addition, they expand certain definitions such definition of a journalist, which will in effect attempt to control or regulate citizen journalism as currently practiced by bloggers. While the government is keen on keeping an eye on the media and by extension the conversations online, it is thin on area of cyber security, with no proper cyber security framework in place, an issue that also limits freedom online.

Since the 2007/2008 post-election violence, authorities are keen to regulate the online space. For instance, the Kenya Police, National Cohesion and Integration Commission as well as Communications Commission of Kenya (CCK) have admitted to monitoring online speech and mobile phone text messages with the justification of arresting hate speech before it is spread. It is not clear what the results of the monitoring are or what has been done with suspected perpetrators of hate messages, as this monitoring is not provided explicitly by law. In light of this monitoring, seasoned bloggers in the Kenyan community have been avoiding the use of certain words that are believed to raise red flags in the monitoring system. CCK also recently announced plans to install network monitoring software, citing, among other reasons, the increased uptake of the Internet as well as security threats.

Despite the government regulating the usage of internet into some extents, it has got also some positive impacts towards the emerging issues in Kenya. This has been brought with it numerous benefits in education, news reporting, disaster management, charity, voice for marginalized groups and dissemination of knowledge. It has also been blamed for the dissemination of hate speech and negative messages that contributed to ethnic violence, particularly during the period leading to the post-election violence in 2007/2008. Additionally, there have been concerns about morality, child safety online, the integrity of content, privacy, data protection and copyright online.

Positive Internet usage on relationships between family members and friends were found. The Internet, mainly through e-mail, has facilitated communication and thus close ties between family and friends, especially those too far away to visit in person on a regular basis. ICT helps to create friendships. When Internet-formed relationships get close enough (i.e., when sufficient trust has been established), people tend to bring them into their “real world”—that is, the traditional face-to-face and telephone interaction sphere. Internet facilitates new connections, in that it provides people with an alternative way to connect with others who share their interests or relational goals. When students who move off to college, communicating with these friends prevents the relationships from declining as swiftly as they otherwise would. Communication seems to inject energy into a relationship and prevents it from going dormant. Email and instant messaging are found to be especially useful. In a wired community, many neighbors got to know each other better through the use of a local computer network.

Other emerging issues are:
1. Identity
Anonymity and pseudo anonymity are important tools for discussion, especially amongst marginalized groups, as they enable people to engage freely. The challenge with anonymity is that the integrity of content may not always be guaranteed and that sometimes it has been used to propagate hate speech. However, in micro-blogging, hate speech and false content can always be controlled by having mechanisms for taking down the offensive material. Anonymity is now challenged by the compulsory Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) card registration exercise that is currently underway in Kenya [24]. Additionally, CCK’s plan to introduce network traffic monitoring technology poses a similar threat to freedom of expression.

2. Privacy/Confidentiality
Although the right to privacy is guaranteed in the Constitution, [27] this right has not been translated into national legislation. For instance, there are no data protection laws to guarantee that data collected in the online realm is protected from unauthorized access. Informal surveys point out that many online users, especially new and younger ones do not clearly understand the wider privacy implications for information they post about themselves. As the same users get more involved in the new media space, they must be more careful about the information they provided online. Unfortunately, new media sites are based in foreign jurisdictions and currently, Kenya does not have policies on data ownership and data retention online. These developments raise a number of important questions. For example, do we have the right to be anonymous? How do we treat deleted content in social media? How about the right to be forgotten? Notably, other jurisdictions such as the EU [28] are already discussing issues related to privacy and anonymity, the right to forget, storage and ownership of new media content.

3. Intellectual Property Rights
To a large extent, the Kenyan online community does not concern itself with intellectual property rights. Users share content freely, many times without attribution. Many rights holders have also disseminated some of their content through social media. This has mostly worked positively for these people by promoting their content to a wider audience. The online community has been active in producing creative works such as cartoons, caricature commenting on topical issues. Sometimes these works are derived from other rights holders’ works but they are largely taken as artistic expression and not many complaints have been recorded by rights holders. Interesting to note is that bodies such as The Copyright Board [29] are in the process of revising and updating the law. Having seen past trends where there was more effort towards protecting proprietary works, it is hoped that revisions will also focus on non-proprietary works and public knowledge.

4. Network Neutrality
Network neutrality affects access to platforms for new media. Without technologies being accessible by mobile devices, not everyone accessing the Internet from a mobile phone will enjoy the same connectivity as those accessing the same from a computer.

If Kenya regulates online expression, such regulation needs to be done in consultation with all stakeholders and not just by Government agencies. There is also a need to take into consideration best practices and recommendations by international authorities on the subject, for instance the General Comment No 34 of the UN Human Rights Committee, 2011, the Report of the Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression through 2011 and the Declaration of the International Mandates on Freedom of Expression in 2011. Notably, these authorities focus on using the Internet to enhance freedom of expression and opinion and only allowing restrictions under limited, pre-determined conditions. The reports also call on states to take positive steps to facilitate FOI on the Internet through promoting access and digital literacy. Importantly, they also highlight the need to take a holistic approach to negative content online by dealing with issues such as discrimination, bigotry, and bias by building peace instead of resorting to censorship on the Internet.


How does social media impact your community?

Social media just as the name suggests is the use of electronic media or ICT’s to communicate and socialize. Social media platforms have greatly changed the way people communicate and interact today in our communities. These ICT’s are diverse and they keep changing from time to time.

The media has been a major contributor to the growth of the ICT sector in Kenya. The use of laptops,computers, tabs and smart phones has made the society have a positive approach towards social media platforms. If you are in a matatu, or sitting in a restaurant or even at the reception waiting to be served you cannot help but notice everyone with a gadget on their hand pressing buttons or swiping across the screen. Basically internet has become a necessity in the lives of the modern Kenyan. Some have even come up with names like Dr. Google just to show how much the society needs google or internet.

Social media platforms especially Facebook and twitter have changed how people communicate, how businesses market themselves and generally the way people live their lives. Furthermore it has broken geographical boundaries and touched the lives of many. So many families have been re-united through social media.
However this powerful tool when misused has negative impact in the society. A few people have often used social media platforms as a way of expressing their grievances in a wrong manner that is Hate Speech this also brings the issue of libel. In as much as the constitution under the bill of rights allow freedom of speech this right should be used responsibly.

Also social media platforms have been misused especially by young adults by being ratchet and posting items of sexual misconduct and nudity to gain popularity. This also raises the question of “socialites” who expose everything about their lives on the social media networks just so that they can become famous, this is not in conformity with the African cultural values that define who we are and how we should carry ourselves in a respectful way. Some people with malicious intentions hack into people’s emails and social networks accounts which is invasion of privacy.

The business sector has benefited from social media but it has also had certain challenges as well. So many entrepreneurs have expanded their businesses through face book and twitter groups and also through websites and blogs which is good for marketing the business. The entertainment industry has benefited the most from social media platforms. Artist and DJ’s interacts with their fans one on one, through these platforms many have been nominated and won various awards both locally and internationally.However some have opted to use this mediums to cone or dupe people of their money especially through online shopping.

Social media as a mass communication tool can be used to create awareness and hence bring about positive change in the society. In some instances a lot of issues pertaining to poor leadership and governance, underdevelopment and corruption just to mention but a few have been aired out by activist and general citizen through social media for example Kenyans on twitter.

If the society can embrace social media not only for entertainment purposes but through positive writing and positive interaction they can help eradicate certain vices in the community. Through social media they can initiate certain campaigns for example the use of contraceptives, the misuse of drugs among other issues. Social media is a powerful tool in that it can be used to communicate faster and to a larger audience, it should be used to convey knowledge as knowledge is power.


Reflections on the Ramifications of the Nigerian SIM Card Registration Exercise

This essay focuses on Nigeria and SIM card registration initiative of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC)—an agency of the federal government and the sector regulator. I chose to explore this policy particularly because Internet Access in Nigeria is provided mostly by mobile telecommunication companies (also called network/service providers). These companies operate under the regulatory glare of NCC. An average Nigerian accesses the internet by subscribing to any of these networks. To do this, one must first acquire a Subscriber Identification Module (SIM) card.

Procurement is followed by registration. Since a whooping majority of internet users in Nigeria rely on these GSM networks and all customers on this network register personal data, SIM registration affects internet users in Nigeria. The data required to register a SIM card includes subscriber’s finger print, photographs, residential address, state of origin, local government of origin, occupation, mother’s maiden name, mobile numbers(of course) etc.

An average phone user in Nigeria can receive over twenty unsolicited text messages a day. For internet users, the problem is more complex. Every internet user in Nigeria receives unsolicited E-mails, some receive it daily, for others it occurs more or less frequently. I received one about 48 hours ago. It reads in part

“…I think I feel quite safe dealing with you in this important business transaction… however, this correspondence is private and it should be treated in strict confidence. At first, I will like to assure you that this transaction is 100% risk and trouble free to both parties. My names are Mrs. Olivier Kone. I will like to ask for your assistance to resolve and transfer from my account to your account, the total sum of $15.2 million dollars … if you can handle it get back to me as soon as possible”

E-mails claiming to be conveying millions of dollars from war/crises torn parts of the world like Libya, Egypt etc are common; so also do E-mails claiming to be awards of the United Nations or any of its specialized agencies. Acting on these E-mails have led to defrauding many well-meaning but unsuspecting internet users.

How do these E-mail spammers manage to get contacts of their prospective preys? Read this sample advertisement placement below:

Get Nigerian GSM database phone numbers sorted out state by state by state for ₦5000 only.
Yes, you read it correctly, with just ₦5000 you will get over 88 million Nigerian numbers to send bulk SMS to.
You can also sell these phone numbers either in pieces or as a whole at any price of your choice.
Many so called internet ‘gurus’ sell these database between 25k to 100k.
So you see my dear, what I am offering you now is a gold-mine (indeed!)
Be among the first 20 people to order for these packages for just ₦5000 only. Offer last till 18th October 2013. I will give you a bonus of 1.5 million Nigerian email addresses. The bonus is limited to the first 20 people to order for these packages.
Pay ₦5000 into any of the bank accounts below” (oluwafemi et al, 2013)

You may also wonder how these data sellers get what they are selling. A case was reported in which a laptop sold by one contractor to a telecoms firm, to an unsuspecting buyer had unprotected data of subscribers who provided their personal data for the SIM registration exercise (ibid). You see how SIM card registration exposes Nigerians to scamming and spamming and potentially rendering them vulnerable to fraudulent elements. These people who buy phone numbers have more than just numbers; these numbers are linked to facebook, whatsapp, 2go and other media sites where unsolicited messages and unnecessary disturbances have been observed to increase in recent time.

Violation of citizen data privacy is not the only challenge. In July 2012, the Nigeria senate president advocated clamping down on social media in the country. It was a statement many ‘netizens’ perceived as a declaration of war on the Nigerian web. He reportedly said the check became necessary as people used the media to demean their leaders…. (Global Voices, 2012). Gbenga Sesan also narrated in an interview that “the house of assembly of Oyo state in the south west Nigeria made a similar call following rumours about the state governor’s wife arrest on the social media. Also bayelsa state embarked on a campaign to ban social media rumours. (Thisday, 2013). As I earlier noted social media accounts in many cases have mobile number linked to them. This means that as the cry for clamp down on social media intensifies, government can easily single out advocates, track them down and deal with them with available personal data to them all courtesy of SIM card registration. This has thus exposed Nigerians to the whims and caprices of criminals and callous security operatives.’ In fact it facilitates clamp down on internet users.

Closely on the heel of clamp down is the problem of surveillance. In July 2012, a federal high court judge called on the National Assembly to introduce restriction on the application of the Freedom of Information law. Later, on April 25, 2013, Premium Times reported that the federal government had signed a $40 million contract with Elbit Systems for the installation of a surveillance system. In the 2013 budget, $61.9 million was set aside for “a Wise Intelligent Network Harvest Analyser System.” It became really clear that the government of the day intends to “invade privacy of citizens by intercepting letters, phone conversations, emails and social media chats.”

Nigerian state security services and leading network operators have been listed as clients to DigiVox and Finifisher command systems which are telecommunication monitoring and surveillance systems capable of interception and control. It was also discovered in January 2013 by the citizen lab internet research group discovered evidence of blue coat packet shaper appliance- a device that can help control undesirable traffic sent via online applications by filtering according to content category in Nigeria alongside 18 other countries around the world including China, Bahrain and Russia (Freedom house, 2013).

To sum up the concerns on online freedom, an FOI request made by Paradigm Initiative Nigeria seeking details of the Elbit surveillance contract has remained turned down. Citizen freedom and human right is really endangered in Nigeria! Targeted punitive measures on online activist may not be far from reality. It worries me particularly as these ‘Gestapo’ moves, utterances and body languages began to emerge only after the SIM registration exercise have been completed for current telecoms user and made mandatory for future subscribers. The most fundamental problem is that if this be the case, freedom of communication has been breached. Consequently, human right is contravened.

Of all the consequences of the SIM card registration; I consider it most worrisome to speculate that the regime is playing out a well planned scheme of things. There is a pattern here: citizens were encouraged to submit personal data. After that details of intending and actual privacy violations began to emerge from top government officials. There is no data privacy law in Nigeria; and to worsen the situation, the federal government released a draft law authorizing interception of information through an ad hoc secondary legislation.

Finally, I sincerely do hope the whole scheme is not all premeditated and is being systematically executed. Otherwise, something more sinister is yet to happen. The SIM registration policy made people vulnerable to criminals and spammers. It exposed a great portion of Nigerians to the banditry of security operatives and opportunistic callousness of politicians and some government functionaries. My own special worry is that in the midst of all these, there is no law to protect Nigerian Citizens and there is as yet no mechanism to seek redress in cases of abuse.

Freedom House (2013). Freedom on the net 2013. Accessed, 27/11/2014, from www.freedomhouse.org/report/freedom-net/2013/nigeria
Global Voices (2012). Nigeria: Senate President Calls for Social Media Censorship. Accessed 28/11/2014, from www.globalvoicesonline.org/2012/07/30/nigeria-senate-president-calls-for-censorship-of-social-media/
THISDAYLIVE (2013). Sesan: Internet Surveillance Contract Will Spell Doom for Nigeria. Accessed, 30/11/2014, from www.thisdaylive.com//articles/sesan-internet-surveilance-contract-will-spell-doom-for-nigeria/150198/
Abangmercy (2013). Government is spying on you through E-mails,tweets and facebook- Genga Sesan speaks on internet security. Accessed, 1/12/2014, from www.abangmercy.wordpress.com/2013/05/13/government-is-spying-on-you-through-e-mails-tweets-and-facebook-gbenga-sesan-speaks-on-internet-security/
Oluwafemi et al (2013). An Internet Freedom Charter for Nigeria. Accessed, 1/12/2014, from www.pinnigeria.org

An Internet Policy that Works

Since the advent of the internet in 1969, it has grown in leaps and bounds. It has become the largest medium for the transit of information in all formats through its plethora of web channels. Its versatility has enabled the development of platforms and applications with a goal to make life easier. In recent years, the application of the internet in formal and informal circles across the world has being phenomenal. Government institutions, banks, co-operate bodies, industries, local businesses and even individuals have trusted the internet as a source and store for information as well as a medium for doing business and financial exchange.

As the internet gains grounds, radio houses, television houses, newspaper houses, book publishers have developed online platforms allowing for the transmission of their programs and information to a global audience.

Prior to the 21st century, Nigeria had being barred by a plethora of challenges that kept it distances from the fast paced information technology driven advanced world. Computers were scarce commodity and the few available ones, were fairly used, found in the homes of the middle class and rich which only made up just less than 5% percent of the about 100 million people at that time. Businesses were carried out in the crudest manner and it didn’t seem like there would be any change.

However, in year 2000, the civilian government headed by President Olusegun Obasanjo announced its National Policy for Information Technology. There was huge doubt that the policy would make headway in a country which had staggering illiteracy levels and whose communication infrastructure was almost non-existent. In spite of these challenges, the government was not deterred. It created a road map for what will be described today as a major success story.

Backed with a vision to make Nigeria an IT driven society by the year 2005, the government set out to work. In the face of huge success achieved within the five year period, there was still very much ground to cover. There were fears of the policy being short-lived because of inconsistencies that characterized the Nigerian governance sphere. It was thus good news when subsequent governments saw the need for continuity in the development of the policy with a target to make Nigeria amongst the top twenty most information technology driven nations by year 2020.

The policy was designed to enable the application of information technology in a far reaching manner touching all areas of the society; healthcare, education, economy, wealth creation, SMEs, entertainment, database management, security etc.

Since the internet began its inroad into Nigerian space in the early nineties, web users had showed promise in the development of this technology. The promising future of the technology though had being marred by its abuse which gave the country a wrong reputation. This all inclusive new policy thus allowed for checks which culminated in the development of active measures against cyber crimes which currently has lowered Nigeria’s internet crime ratings from number one in year 2000 to around twentieth in the world with huge penalty being given to those caught involved in such crimes.

The fear that had characterized the internet because of perpetrators of fraud had stemmed its development as compared to advance nations of the world who were already benefiting from its use. With increasing confidence in the internet space propelled by the development of government policy skewed towards proactive application of the internet, a new door was opened. Confidence has being steadily building as more and more people now find the internet as a great medium to transact business and communicate.

Recent cashless policy of the central bank of Nigeria in lieu of the federal government’s policy on information technology is meant to drive people towards the application of the internet whether in handheld devices or on the computers to enhance financial interactions. The policy has allowed for the development of internet infrastructure across the length and breadth of the country in a bid to ensure its availability.

So much has happened as the government of Nigeria seeks to position the internet as a viable means for transaction of businesses which entrepreneurs are effectively applying. Increased literacy level and confidence in the government’s policy has encouraged more people to find the internet as a secure haven. There has being increased policing as “internetpreneurs” seek for even better ways to do business applying the best global internet technology.

Globally, the development of social media has transformed the internet sphere into a more interactive one. Facebook, Twitter, Linked-in, and a host of other applications transformed communication from that of mere telephone conversations and the use of emails to more interactive platforms. The propellant of this move was the development of handheld mobile devices by hardware manufacturers who now incorporate the internet into their products.

The flow of information on the internet is phenomenal. This has being a major challenge for the government to face. The internet has created a renaissance of some form for the freedom of press. The increasing ease of development of the medium makes it a tool available to all and sundry without much training. The internet provides a platform for all kinds of persons with all forms of objectives to create a space for themselves. A new form of journalism, I-report or also know as citizen journalism is fast taking over the Nigerian blogging sphere. This new trend is being spurred by the need for unbiased news reportage which often is not in the interest of the state. However, unscrupulous miscreants are seizing on that freedom to feed the people with false truths.

The freedom of information that the internet supports has been the propellant of activist groups and movements across the world, the most prominent, the Arab spring that saw the fall of very notable seat tight leaders across the Arab world. In Nigeria, activist groups such as #BringBackOurGirls have found the internet as a medium for the propagation of their voice to have over 200 kidnapped school girls released by the dreaded Islamic Boko Haram sect. Action Progressive Congress APC a major opposition party in Nigeria is applying internet platforms as a medium to attack the ruling party the Peoples Democratic Party PDP.

As more and more persons especially young people get on the internet armed with little or no knowledge of the workings of the internet and fraudsters, more persons are becoming easy prey to the antics of online criminals. The government has complained about the poor image the country is garnering from across the world, the result of Nigerians selling themselves wrongly by feeding the world with wrong information through the internet.

The moral bashing that has characterized the present society has being influenced by the internet influencing young minds negatively, with pornography being a major attraction to young online users thus increasing the sexual activeness of young people, a rating Nigeria ranks number in the world.

The leaking of vital documents of government on the internet by wiki-leaks is an example of how much harm can be done to the reputation of a country and how conflict can be fostered by such acts as it did for the United States which pitted Russia against her. In Nigeria, as in most countries of the world, secret naked images have being pasted on social media in a bid to tarnish a person’s image. This often results from a result of conflict between two or more parties.

The internet is one of the mediums through which information about illnesses such as Ebola has being shared and as one of the weapons Nigeria has used to defeat the dreaded disease. However, wrong information also goes viral. The case in which an online user used facebook as medium for propagating falsehood of the availability of the cure of Ebola though the use of saltwater as a bathing medium is well known across Nigeria.

The need for a proficient internet based policy cannot be over stated. The flexibility of the policies though must allow for the inconsistencies and consistencies that characterize the internet. While people still want the freedom of communication, the government’s policies act as a guard to avoid the abuse. The Nigerian government in this regard seeks to protect its Nigerian users on the internet while also ensuring the right image about the country is passed to the world.


The Propagating Discriminate Internet Policies in Nigeria

With the advent of policies in the internet, it has dramatically reduced and still reducing the wrong usage of the internet. My society has a partial, strong and strict policy for the internet. The policies were passed across every citizen of my country. Though the implementation was favorable to those who have something tangible to do in the internet because, they will be doing it with full assurance that their motives are secretive. In my country, many of our economic sectors experiences fraud, scamming and many more. But since the enforcement of the policies, the fraud and scamming have reduced. Many activists, bloggers can now invest in the internet with assurances that their business is secured. I was reading one local newspaper in my country last month; it was revealed that four university students were arrested after a painstaking investigation over 5million Naira (#5,000,000) internet fraud. They tried every of their possible means in denying it but they were later convicted and sent to jail after series of investigations and interrogations at the law court.

Internet evolved as a result of modernization but the wrong usage occurred as a result of inability in executing those policies. If internet policies were to be executed as they were implemented, I think, internet scamming, internet fraud and rest of them will be the stories of the old. But the truth still remains that in my country, though we are practicing democratic system of government but many of the citizens will still be denied their rights either because they do not have a stand in the country or that they are less privileged. A son of one famous politician was caught while having a love scam in the internet but instead of the legislative board to judge him according to the policies given; they went ahead dismissing the case because of his father’s famousness. The fact is that my country does not give equal rights to every of her citizens. I know some genuine activists, bloggers and internet users that are in prison now as a result of internet crime they did not commit. Despite the partialities in enforcing those policies, there are still genuine bloggers, activists, internet users who are always ready and willing to render their services to the poor masses.

Internet connectivity presents the company, society and individuals with new risks that must be addressed to safeguard the facility’s vital information assets. Some of the risks might include:

• Access to the internet personnel that is inconsistent with business needs result in the misuse of the resource. These activities may adversely affect productivity due to time spent using or “surfing” the internet. Additionally the company may face loss of reputation and possible legal actions through their type of misuse.
• All information found on the internet should be considered suspect until confirmed by another liable source. There is no quality control process on the internet and a considerable amount of its information is outdated or inaccurate.
• Access to the internet will be provided of the users to support business activities and only on an as needed basis to perform their jobs and professional roles.
• The purpose of these policies is to define the appropriate use of the internet by employees and affiliates and even individuals. The internet usage policy apply to all internet users (individual working for company including full time and part time employees, contract workers, temporary agency workers, business patriots and vendors) who access the internet through the computing or networking resources. The company’s internet users are expected to be familiar and to comply with these policies and are also required to use their common sense and exercise their good judgment while using the internet services. Users not complying with these polices could be subjected to disciplinary action up to and including termination. Internet access would be discontinued upon termination of employees, completion of contract, end of service of non-employees, or disciplinary action arising from the violation of these polices. In the case of a change in job function or transfer the original access code will be discontinued and only reissued necessary and a new request for access is approved.
• Access to the internet will be approved and provided only if reasonable business needs are identified. Internet services will be granted based on an employee’s current job responsibilities. For instance, if an employee move to another business unit or changes job functions, a new internet access must be submitted within five days.
• Information stored in the wallet, or any consequential loss of personal property. Acquisition, storage and dissemination of data which is illegal, pornographic, or which negatively depicts race, sex or creed is specifically prohibited. Engaging in fraudulent activities, knowingly disseminating false or otherwise libelous materials.
Other activities that are strictly prohibited include but are not limited to; ——– Accessing Company’s information that is not within the scope of ones work. These include unauthorized reading of customer’s information, unauthorized access of personal file information, and accessing information that is not needed for the proper execution of job functions.
—— Any conduct that would constitute or encourage a criminal offense, lead to civil liability, or otherwise violate any regulations local, state, national or international law.
—— Use, transmission, duplication, or voluntary receipt of material that infringes on the copyrights, trademarks, trade secrets or patent rights of any personal or organization.
—— Transmission of any proprietary, confidential, or otherwise sensitive information without the proper controls.
—— Creation, posting, transmission, or voluntary receipt of any unlawful, offensive, libelous, threatening, harassing material, including but not limited to comments based on race, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, age, disability, religion, or political beliefs.
—— Any form of gambling is highly prohibited.

In my country, to implement a policy is never the problem but how to perfectly execute or enforce those policies. The above policies are highly indispensable for a stable global internet society. My country’s policy executives seem to be unapproachable, incorrigible and weak. Many of them do not even care how the internet demotes the moral values of our youths. If a fake blogger, scammer, fraudster was caught in an act and he or she do not have money to settle them, definitely, the person must be convicted and sent to prison.

To crown it all, corruption has made my country to do away with those crucial policies and the internet users are strong in keeping the policies hence they do not have what it takes to get out of the mess when matter arise.


Breakthroughs of the Liberal Internet Policies in Nigeria

The internet is made available to all the citizens in my home country Nigeria- but for some token fee paid to the Internet Service Providers. Also, it is uncensored. Citizens have access to do whatever they want to do or be whoever they want to be as a result of this liberal policy.

Today, people undertake whatever type of project they want to do on the internet. We have online-retail and wholesale stores, online education, online dating, e-government –which is being implemented at breakneck speed- amongst a host of others. The major adverse effect of these liberal online/internet related policies on the citizens of the country is internet fraud . Statistics from the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC Nigeria) has it that in the last five years, internet fraudsters in the country have defrauded gullible persons to the tune of over ten million dollars.

Positives from Internet Related Policies
All examination bodies in the country-WAEC (West African Examination Council), NECO(National Examination Council of Nigeria), JAMB(Joint Admissions Matriculation Board), just to mention a few now have online registration portals. With your scratch cards and pin number, you can register for any of these Nigerian examinations with a computer linked to the internet from anywhere in the world.

Beginning from 2015, the JAMB Exams(which is the examination body responsible for tertiary institutions admissions in the country) would be online and in ‘real time’ thus drastically reducing instances of examination malpractices by about 95 percent.

Already, many businesses are online –including shops, dealing with all sought of textiles, shoes, household goods, spare parts of machines, engines, electronics- just about anything can be purchased online in the country today. Also, banking has never been so easy in the history of the country- whereby, from the comfort of one’s home- even with your mobile device, you can open online accounts, make payments, check account balances and the like without necessarily being in to the four walls of the banking hall. Indeed, this is a modern day miracle.

The phenomenon of telemedicine is at an embryonic stage within the country, although many orthodox and traditional health care products and services can be purchased online.

The National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN) is the largest online distant learning institute in Africa with some affiliation to some 130 other leading global distant/online institutes. Also every tertiary institution in the country has a strong online presence with students having their own online portal whereby anything can be checked- from payments, to examination schedules, examination transcripts, records and other academic activities.

Coming to agriculture, the revolutionary turn around being experienced in this sector of the Nigerian economy has been achieved by the e-distribution of fertilizers through the e-payment card systems, which supplies this essential commodity directly to the farmers and not through middle men as experienced in the past. This has ensured that corruption in the system has been reduced to the barest minimum . By 2015, for the first time in the country’s history, she would be exporting rice, an agricultural commodity, to other countries of the world. Hitherto, Nigeria has been the largest importer of rice in Africa, having initially abandoned the agricultural sector due to corruption in the system and in pursuit of its vast crude oil deposits. With the fast global decline in crude oil prices(as a result of fracture drilling of shale oil and gas in the United States and other parts of the world), the internet related agricultural policies couldn’t have come at a better time to help redeem the mono-economic system of the country.

Today, the story has changed –thanks to the liberal internet policy of the government of the day. The country can now boast of some of the largest Silos and Cribs storage facilities in Africa which currently stores all sought of agricultural grains and produce.

Shortcomings on the Liberal Internet policy in Nigeria
The major issue here as highlighted in the introduction is internet fraud- popularly known as ‘yahoo yahoo boys’ in the country. These group of people pose as some important personalities online to defraud gullible and unsuspecting people of huge sums of money with a promise for either a juicy contract, marriage, delivery of certain non-existent goods and the like. It has really been a dark spot in the image of the country. However, the law enforcements agents such as the EFCC- Economic and Financial Crimes Commission- the Nigerian equivalent of the CIA-, ICPC- Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission , FIU- the Financial Intelligence Unit of the police, the SSS- State Security Service, amongst a host of other crack teams have been doing a great job to contain these internet fraudsters in every way possible.

With the successes of these security outfits and their paraphernalia, Nigeria has twice been elected into the non-permanent membership of the United Nations Security Council of which she holds a key position as the secretary general of the organization.

I must say here that Nigeria’s own Philip Emeagwali has been named by the CNN- Cable News Network of America as the “father of modern internet”- for his invention in 1989 of a software that makes 3 billion calculations per seconds- thus launching the world into online – real time business! Nigeria is ahead of most developed nations in the implementation of the chip and pin ATM(Automatic Teller Machine) payment system- which completely eliminates cloning of ATM cards. Most countries in the West are finding it difficult to migrate from the magnetic ATM machine which is susceptible to all manner of fraud and card cloning.

The future looks bright for the country as a result of the liberal internet policy of the government . The internet would definitely make poverty history in the world some day.

• Innovators who break barriers – CNN.com
• List of Examination Bodies in Nigeria | VConnect™
• As Nigeria moves ahead with agricultural revolution …
• Nigeria becomes non-permanent member of UN Security …
• Nigerian payment cards vulnerable to hackers abroad …


The Real-world Effects of an Internet-related Policy on Citizens in a Specific Country or Region

Cyberspace censorship and other internet-related colloquy has been a subject of hot discussion of recent. Just last week, my press organization advocated for cyberspace censorship in an inter-press debating contest. Points were raised, sides were taken and at the end, it was crystal clear that the internet has crystallized into a natural phenomenon deserving a great attention. Just like an earthquake or a cyclone, we cannot turn a blind eye to the importunity of internet usage and its related challenges. To successfully tackle these challenges, governments the world over have put in place some policy measures geared towards implementing the best internet practices and pro bono publico that is, for the good of the general public. In Nigeria, the incessant incidence of using facebook and other social media as a tool to commit crimes like rape, murder, pornography, fraud and other debaucheries has literally forced the federal government to tighten its regulatory tentacles on internet users.

These policy measures have considerably affected the lives of every citizen. We must realize the import of internet policies before we can venture into its critical examination, which is the main preoccupation of this article. The vast majority of the so-called policies are those that are made not necessarily for the conscious monitoring of the cyberspace in Nigeria. They are mostly independent policies and practices that greatly influence the delivery of internet for over 50 million users. The stance of most countries of the world as regards the internet is that the freedom which the internet readily provides should not be overwhelmed by the potential malice it breeds. The most paramount of these concerns is the security of the state followed by the rights of every individual in a particular clime. A country like China has taken its security concern on the cyberspace to the extreme by placing a rigid embargo on several websites like facebook, twitter, et cetera. In Nigeria, this is not the case owing to the peculiar nature of our democracy. Anybody can exhaustively express his rights through the internet. There is freedom! But with this freedom comes certain restrictions for an age-long African proverb says that freedom stops when your fist is an inch away from someone’s face. The government had thus demarcated a line between eager fists and vulnerable faces through explicit and implicit policies that directly and indirectly affect the use of the internet. The latter shall be discussed first.

It may be argued that the Information Technology sector has not been effectively integrated in the development agenda of most developing countries like Nigeria. But over the years, the government has unconsciously formulated some policies that have (adversely) affected our access to and utility of the cyber space. The ailing economy of the nation and the lack of insight from our administrators into salvaging the situation have spread its ripple effects onto internet usage. Currently, there is no strong competition in the telecommunications and ISP industries. Hence, citizens are always at the mercy of these exploitative monopolists. It is no more news that an average Nigerian does not live up to a dollar per day. You cannot expect a hungry man to spend his imaginary cash on costly internet data subscription. This ripple effect has thus ripped the Nigerian society of the luxury of the cyberspace. The Nigeria’s Communication Commission has not really been making concerted efforts at monitoring these companies since they have been instituted. The patience of Nigerians was this year stretched beyond limits when some youths took to the streets of social media with the hashtag, ‘Equal Internet Bandwidth’. This was in reaction to the tasteless explanation made by the NCC body that there can never be an equal bandwidth for blackberry owners and other brands users. The agency explained some stuffs about the ‘marginalization’ of especially Android enthusiasts. This is a glaring reflection of poor or lack of policy formulation on the government’s part. This has stalled the growth in internet literacy of Nigerians. Only less than 30 percentage of Nigerian citizens have felt the Midas touch of cyberspace as a result of this inadequacy. The best way out of this quandary is to formulate economic policies that will attract more foreign companies to come and inject a healthy competition into the I.T industry .

Moreover, corporate bodies have also made policies affecting internet use. As aforementioned, the poor policies of ISPs have affected the lives of internet users. Ranging from exorbitant data price to the blithe unconcern of these corporate bodies to the satisfaction of Nigerians, internet services have been marred. Apart from business men and women who greatly rely on the internet for communication, promotion and advertisement, bloggers have also been endangered as a result of the poor quality of this ally, internet. For instance, there are no strong website hosting companies in Nigeria. The few ones that operate provide mediocre services that leave passionate bloggers with no option than to patronize foreign companies like iPage, SiteGround, et cetera. That means reduced supervision and coordination from the federal government. All of these inadequacies stem out from the lack of proper policies for the internet and until the government begins to formulate them, the average Nigerian internet user will be unable to exercise his full potentials on the platform of the cyberspace. The government must look beyond the nose and extend its horizon beyond the purview of policing internet crime like Advance Fee Fraud (419) and other internet crimes, to formulating adequate policies about the protection of individual’s liberty on the net, privacy protection and totally curb online theft and piracy of intellectual property. This is the best responsibility any modern government can fulfill in this computer age.


The Effects of Broadband on Nigerians

Internet has far spread its wings in Nigeria and the world. Many Nigerian youths now find it very difficult to live a day without accessing the internet. Most of them visit various social networks like Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, 2go and lots more, just to chat with friends and make new friends, while we have some that visits search engines to study and get more knowledge from them. Search engines like Google, Yahoo search has gain a huge traffic over the years. Some people also relied on the internet as their source of income, these people include; bloggers, web designers and so on. All these have helped a lot to increase the wide usage of the internet and it has also been promoted by the Nigerian policy and right to free internet access which is also known as the right to broad band. These right has been granted to Nigerian citizens in order to give them the opportunity to exercise and enjoy their freedom of expression and opinion. These right has been questioned by a lot of Nigerians, some people are of the opinion that there should be restriction to internet usage in Nigeria, these two opinions have been formed based on the effects of the right to broad band.

Even though citizens under the age of eighteen are not granted full access to the internet in Nigeria, but, many of them access some adult websites by affirming they are eighteen, and there is no police to catch them. They visit and even download files from porn and girlie websites. Since these youths are our future, then, through that we breed future bad eggs.

Through this policy and right, you now see students and even pupils tweeting and chatting on Facebook during lectures, teachings and seminars. Students now wile away their time on internet, time when they ought to be reading, they substitute them for internet surfing, visiting social networks and searching for tweaks and games.

A lot of people have been defrauded, cheated and even, jilted through the internet. Since there is no internet certificate to track these bad mens, Many adults have been attracted by some catchy but devil's pit advertisements on the internet while many people do use social networks to cheat others. For example, a huge lot of people have been defrauded through the use of Yahoo, majority of those people are promised some goods if they pay some amount of money into a bank account, and after doing so, both money and goods will not be seen. And even, some cheat others by creating blogs, they tell them to refer some amount of people to get particular amount of money, but it is all deception.

With the wide usage of internet, and easy means to post views options on the internet, many entertainment stars find it uncomfortable, when they see some articles about them, in which some bloggers and web builders write, just to drive a lot of readers and visitors. Some people use internet to blackmail others, as a revengeful act or as a tactics to get money and fame.

Although there has been a lot of criticism against this right, but still, there is no sky without a black spot, the broad band policy also has its good sides.

It makes it easier and convenient for young minds to study and gather informations from online source without having the feelings of been followed. So therefore, they are able to gather opinions all around the world. It also help them to ask questions from their colleagues from anywhere in the world, post their own ideas on issues and also, help to solve problems. It makes them creative because they are often greatly inspired by others works. Through the free internet access policy, a lot of Nigerians are exposed to the world around them.

Broad band policy have also been a privilege to bloggers and web designers, since there is free access to the internet, then, bloggers can get what they need, which is traffic. Likewise web designers will have to create more websites for corporate bodies, companies and individuals.

Media agency have also benefitted from the free internet access policy, since there is no restrictions as to internet surfing, they too, they get new readers everyday. Medias like; CNN, AL JAZEERA, BBC, PUNCH NIGERIA.

Through this policy also, corporate bodies, companies and individuals have been able to advertise their business via the internet with the mind that, it will widely be seen and it will drive more customers and clients.

This Nigeria's policy of free internet access have greatly affected the citizens both in negative and positive ways. But despite the bad effects, the right to free internet access, is still a good and acceptable fundamental human right, for the cautious minds.

How Internet Policies Affect Nigerians

Information and Communication Technology (ICT) is a prerequisite for
developing countries’ economic success. The
ability of developing countries to thrive in global
economy depends on the nations’ objectives of
ICT policies and their ability for proper
implementation of such policies. However,
previous studies have shown that most of the
developing countries especially Nigeria are yet
to embrace fully the application of ICT in socio-
economic and political life of the people
(Bowery, 1995; Williamson, 1991; Anie, 2007).
The major clog in the wheel of progress with
regards to the adopting and implementation of
ICT policies in Nigeria is the government’s
indifference towards adequate investment on
Information and Communication Technologies.
Lee (1993) asserted that the biggest hindrance
to telecom service development has been the
attitude of the government and the desire to
control the population, many only see the huge
expense and fail to see the benefits to a
developing country from establishing an
adequate telecommunications infrastructure.
A good number of workshops,
conferences and seminars have been
sponsored by the Nigerian government still,
there is no significant development. Though,
some of the developing countries such as
South Africa, Nigeria and Ghana have been
Asian making little progress in (telematics – the
convergence of telecommunications with
computer technology) computer
communications by linking production to
industrialization. South nations, such as
Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore all of which
have adopted a strategy which aims at
industrialization through applications of
microelectronics, computer products, services
in management, finance, health care,
distribution, manufacturing, as well as
education. This particular experiment in these
nations may be a breakthrough in the
developing nations, industrial and high
technology policies. The success of these few
is already having an impact on the world
production patterns, trades and both the social
and political environment (Crawford, 1984).
The implementation of ICT policies in
the developing countries has reached directly
the heartland of the business life of the people.
The advent of the new information technologies
has opened many doors for socio-economic
and political development in many countries.
Trevidic (1983) declared that it certainly
“brings to the forefront domestic conflicts
within each country, between labour and
capital forces and among capital forces
themselves (rivalries between national firms for
instance), as well as external conflicts between
countries and their respective economies”. It
must be noted that ICT does not develop in
isolation rather it develops in accordance with
the industrial environment it encounters. If not,
the impact of ICT will be inconsequential to the
nation’s economy.
West Africa nations are far behind the
level of industrialization and technological
development in this information age due to lack
of a well defined ICT policies to guide
development plans. It sounds ironical to realize
the situation in developing countries using the
same or even similar policies that have been
used in the developed economies yet; there is
no improvement and development in the
economies of the developing nations. The
latest economic strategy in these nations
especially in Nigeria is “regulation and
privatization policies”. Such policies will yield
no fruit in the development of the nation’s
economy if the implementation of ICT policies is
still dismissed with a wave of hand by the
government and the industrialists. It is true and
worthy of commendation that the developing
nations have emerged from the grip of colonial
masters, only to discover that they are more
seriously placed under the yoke of egocentric
and egoistic political leaders, the World Bank,
International Monetary Fund (IMF) etc.
However, the awareness for self reliance and
self sufficiency is gaining momentum in
developing countries, therefore, the promotion
of ICT as an essential catalyst for social and
economic development is o n the high gear in
some of the West African countries.
Economic Benefits of ICT Policies
The economic benefit of
telecommunications is enormous, both as a
growing industry in its own right and in terms of
its influence on economic development.
Telecommunications is making the world a
smaller place and creating new information
highways of high speed electronic data
exchange. The economic implication of ICT are
far-reaching; mobile telephones, satellite
television and automatic teller machines are
just a few examples of the way in which ICT is
changing how people communicate, become
informed or do business.
The relation between ICT and
economic development and benefit has been a
topic of numerous studies. And all agree that
there is a close relation. In a landmark research
by Ifidon, (2002); Adoni, (2008); Ochai,
(1996/87) and Eyitayo, (1980) on rural
economic development implications of ICT in
Nigeria in particular, the research found an
interdependent relationship between economic
activity and ICT infrastructure investment at
state and country levels. With the advent of
Global System for Mobile Communications
(GSM) as introduced by the Fourth Republic
and a democratic government in power, the
problems of inefficiency in telecommunication
are now to some extent solved.
The federal government issued a
Global System for Mobile Communications
(GSM) operating license. The
telecommunication companies that got the
operating license were: Zain (Econet) wireless
and MTN communications, M-Tel, the NITEL
counterpart was given an automatic license
while in 2003 GLOBACOM was granted
operating license. The findings of the various
research works including this study support the
conclusion that ICT investments affects
economic activity and that economic activity
affects ICT investments. And there is a serious
reduction in Nigeria business costs resulting
from telecommunications. Moreover,
telecommunications brings about important
technological change: openness, connectivity,
decentralization and accessibility. It brings
people together, links like minded groups, saves
cost of transports, business transactions take
place without crossing the border, promotes self
employment such as phone booths and
business centres to mention but few.
Information and Communication
Technology (ICT) network is the basic facility
through which information needs of industry,
commerce and agriculture can be satisfied.
Industrial development requires the
coordination of a series of operation, including
the acquisition of supplies, recruitment of
labour, control stocks, processing of materials,
delivery of goods to buyers, as well as billing
and record keeping. Information technology is
vital to the effective development and control of
many of these operations. Commerce is
essentially on information processing activity,
effective buying, selling and brokerage rely on
the continual supply of up-to-date information
regarding the availability of prices of goods and
services. Farmers on the other hand, must not
only grow food but they must sell effectively
and buy seeds and fertilizer. They also need
information on weather conditions, disease
outbreaks and new agricultural techniques.
Social Benefit of ICT Policy
The social benefit of ICT is completely
invaluable and cannot easily be listed.
Notwithstanding, a good number of the social
benefits can still be discussed. And these
benefits include social interactions. Keeping in
touch with friends and relations is one of the
major social benefits of ICT. Igyor (1996) also
declared the same view that ICT has changed
the way transactions are conducted, the way in
which information is circulated and the way in
which we educate and inform ourselves.
ICT has also reduced inequalities of
opportunity between rural areas and the Urban
Centres with the introduction of Internet
Services, which delivers educational
programmes to remote locations. Educational
institutions are becoming more dependent on
telecommunications to access super
computers and broadcast instructions. This
has paved way for the introduction of distance
learning, which can improve educational
achievement in rural areas (Davidson, 1991).
Significantly, ICT policy which has given birth to
Open Air University in Nigeria has led to
population declines in cities and demographics
shifts and pressure on rural libraries.
ICT policies and implementation has
also helped to reduce costs and improve
efficiency in health care delivery. Patients’
records can also be stored and transmitted
electronically so that doctors can call upon
specialist as the case may be. Other
telemedicine applications include connecting
remote supper computers to lasers for
precision, focusing, transmission of digitized X-
ray photographs, etc (Davidson, 1991).

Sylvester O.A (2014). The economic and social benefit of ICT policies in Nigeria. A paper retrieved from http://www.státcounter.com

Uganda’s is Leveraging Internet Access through National Infrastructure Backbone, But Forgetting the Local Citizen

In 2008 Uganda launched the National Backbone Project under Ministry of ICT. This project involved laying optic fiber cables interconnecting major towns around the country and was expected to lead to enormous benefits including but not limited to low cost access to connectivity and near ubiquitous connectivity within Uganda. However till date, this seems not to have materialized as expected.

Precisely the objectives of the project included establishing a national backbone; connecting all ministries in a single Wide area network; establishing a government data center and connecting 28 major districts in Uganda to the backbone. Its expected outputs included having all government Ministries connected; e-government services implemented, 28 districts/towns connected to national backbone.

And in turn, the outputs were expected to lead to improved communication between government ministries; improved services delivery by government ministries; reduced cost of communications; increased economic development and subsequently a reduction in poverty.

And after the first phase, the achievements included having ministries connected to e-government network; there is video conferencing services rolled out in all ministries; Kampala, Entebbe, Bombo, Mukono and Jinja connected to national backbone and 183 Km of optical fibre cable laid; this is a very forward strategy however in the whole plan, citizenry, the local tax payer was not catered for.

This project drew a lot of political clout, as can be shown in part of the budget speech on 12th June, 2014 where the Minister of Finance of Uganda, Maria Kiwanuka read this statement in reference to the ICT sector:

“This sector is achieving increasing importance as a support to the other sectors. It is no longer a sector on its own but it is an input to health, education, business and trade, agriculture and weather forecasting. During the year just ending, we have completed construction of two phases of the National Transmission Backbone Infrastructure which has improved internet connectivity at an affordable cost. This has reduced the cost of bandwidth to $ 300 per megabit per second per month, down from $600 prevailing on the market. Bulk internet bandwidth agreements have been signed with Government institutions with 18 ministries so far being supplied with cheaper bandwidth. I encourage the private sector to utilise the infrastructure in order to reduce their ICT costs of doing business and enhance their efficiency and profitability.”

But again, let us reverse to circumstances surrounding the roll out of NBI. In the 2012 National ICT Policy for Uganda, a lot was promised with section 3.2.1 a) vividly stating “Extension of the national backbone infrastructure to cover the entire country as well as addressing last mile challenges”. The policy went on to state much more but the interest of this blog is to discuss how local internet access has been affected by inability to scale up networks links to last mile beyond Ugandan government structures.

In 2008, NBI was managed by Ministry of ICT however by 2010, NITA-U got operational but had a lot to clear out with the then Minister of ICT Dr. Ham Muliira. Initial designs rotated around having a greater capacity of the NBI links dedicated to inter-connecting government ministries, establishing video conferencing, VoIP services, mailing facilities among others. Government to government communications is very important however, there needs to be an expeditious way of improvising capacity for local citizens whose businesses and ventures would heavily benefit from the backbone capacity, therefore the whole point of having an e-government has not allowed the effect of the NBI trickle down to the local man. Worse still, in the country side, the effect of the NBI has not been seen. Major regional offices in up country districts either do not have connectivity at all or the office holders are using 3G data modems which is a reflection of an insufficiency in the implementation of a well written policy.

On paper, the ICT policy put up measures that would help scale internet access to citizens; an implementation of this would help organisations and individuals who need reliable internet connectivity to run their ventures such as countryside hubs, media reporters, and other users of through mass usage of online facilities. The last mile connectivity has not worked at local government level as was supposed to be.

With the NBI capacity reaching the local users, the cost of 1mbps internet link would be no more than $50.00, but the inability of the cable effect to provide service to the last man has left a service void which is exploited by private telecom companies charging an average of $600.00 for the same link capacity. This still explains why in areas like northern Uganda, Zoom, private service provision firms have stepped in to provide service. In Kampala, recently launched Smart Telecom has intensively capitalised on data services. If the NBI had met its objectives, probably much of the connectivity services would have been provided by the government backbone than private firms which tend to provide service at a high cost. This high internet costs, this affects the level of content search by researchers and people interested in learning such as students, people and institutions creating content and need to share and at the same time, it has made it challenging and expensive for content creators, bloggers, publishers and other professionals in that line to expose their work using internet services.

Uganda Communications Commission responsible for licensing telecommunications service providers in Uganda is making it difficult to license other firms (service providers) trying to enter into the data provision market. This is because, the more the service providers, the lower the costs of service could most likely become. Data services in Uganda is the cash cow of the industry and seemingly the regulator (UCC) would not want it tampered with by new entrants who most likely can tilt market balance against already established market players. Based on this backdrop, new entrants will be frustrated and service will stay limited for a longer period.

Conclusively, the limited and high cost of internet service in Uganda is majorly because the implementing bodies of the National Backbone Infrastructure (NBI) did not put much consideration into the populace. This is probably because the RCDF spearheaded by UCC is working on last mile connectivity. If we are to base on RCDF to roll out connectivity throughout Uganda, this may take a while to be felt. . Several district local government offices still do not have any connectivity; there isn't much effort towards achieving final connectivity at the districts. Cost of internet is still very high, something that has frustrated much hope that Ugandans had in the optic fiber cable (NBI). However, if priorities are realigned and the objectives followed, the next few years could see Uganda having gigabytes of bandwidth and increased access and usage of internet.


A Brief on How Internet Policies Have Affected My Community

The Uganda Telecommunications Policy has had a profound effect on lifestyle and development in Uganda. It led to the creation of the following institutions:
1. Uganda Communications Commission (UCC): Its goal is to develop a modern communications subsector and infrastructure.
2. Ministry of Information and Communications Technologies (MoICT): To provide Strategic and technical leadership, overall coordination, support and advocacy on all matters of policy, laws, regulations and strategy: sustainable, effective and efficient development, harnessing and utilization of Information and Communications Technologies (ICTs) in all spheres of life, to enable the country to achieve its national development goals.
3. National Information Technology Authority-Uganda: To coordinate, promote and monitor IT development within the context of national social and economic development.
4. Broadcasting Council: To development a modern broadcasting sector and infrastructure in Uganda.

As a result, the telecommunications sector has been completely liberalized. The telephone subscriber base increased from 2.2 million in the month of June 2006, to 8.2 million in December 2008. Currently, there are about 13 million mobile phone subscribers, with a teledensity (per 100 inhabitants) of 38.8, and an Internet user percentage of 12.5. Information, Communication Technologies’ (ICT) coverage has, therefore, increased drastically, and a Business Outsourcing Strategy was developed. Also, ICTs have been integrated into the National Planning Framework. Undoubtedly, the effect of the telecommunications policy is pervasive and ubiquitous, especially in urban areas, ensuring a place for Uganda in the African Connectivity Top Ten. But what are the implications of this in concrete terms?

Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) have joined the bandwagon and used ICTs to promote sustainable development. For instance, the Uganda Forestry Working Group (UFWG), a coalition of stakeholders in the forestry sector, has developed a website which is informative and educative. The UFWG used email, television and radio to mobilize the public against the degazzetement of Mabira Central Forest Reserve. In addition, Women in Technology-Uganda (WIT-U) uses ICTs to augment the skills of women, narrowing the gender digital divide. I-network is an ‘e-mailing’ list which is dedicated to ‘knowledge sharing, advocacy and expertise in ICT4D.’ The platform is interactive and has enabled academics, journalists, policy-makers, network operators, freelance programmers, web designers and telecom regulators to network and dialogue. Topics include use of MIT open courseware, mobile phone charges, Internet Explorer exploits, rising e-waste, promoting Linux, Cisco vs. Huawei routers, publishing Chief Executive Officer Salaries, etc. Mobile Monday is an informal organization which brings together stakeholders in the mobile phone industry to discuss pertinent issues. The discussions have catalyzed innovations which are responsive to local, national and international needs. Another CSO which is worth mentioning is Agri-Profocus Uganda. Its goal is to support farmer entrepreneurship through farmer organizations, farming services, policy engagement, food security, gender equity, market information and financial services. It applies We 2.0 for Development tools, particularly NING, to facilitate networking, access to information and training. More farmers are now producing for the market rather than merely for subsistence.

Mobile phone and Internet users are busy developing websites, software and apps. This surge in innovation is spurred and nurtured by such organizations as the Makerere University School of Computing, Techsys, Second Life Uganda Limited, E-tech, Appfrica Labs, Eight Technologies, Owino Solutions, the Community Open Solutions Network, Outbox, HiveColab, Mobile Monday Kampala, FinAfrica, Grameen Foundation, Mara Launchpad and @The Hub. Notable service providers are MTN, Airtel, Smile Communications and UTL. Products of innovation include ‘Mafutago’ and ‘Ensibuuko’, which have won international acclaim. As the innovation proceeds so does the compendium of Internet-based solutions. Individuals are using social media to interact, advertise and mobilize. Kudos to all.

Access to information is a principle virtue of the Government of Uganda. Hence, the Ministry of Information and National Guidance launched a web-portal referred to as Ask Your Government (AYG). Ugandan citizens can lodge requests to public bodies such as ministries, department and agencies. The core goal is to promote transparency and government-citizen interaction through the use of ICTs. It is hoped, that this will foster good governance and improved delivery of services. The impact of the portal is yet to be assessed.

This public-private-meso nexus has had a profound impact on Ugandan society. With respect to agriculture, which is the backbone of Uganda’s economy, farmers are using ICTs to do the following:
1. To gain access to, and control over, more and better resources on favourable terms: For instance, purchasing agricultural inputs.
2. To inform them about and give them access to new or better technologies which can make resources more productive, together with knowledge and skills for utilizing the technologies.
3. To link them into organizations and have access to resources and technologies on favourable terms, and access to markets.

However, challenges abound in the ICT sector. The population is about 35 million people, of which a paltry 4.5 million have mobile phones and can access the Internet. The current tele density is still low. Because Uganda is a landlocked country, connectivity costs are exorbitant. This is because the country does not have direct access to a sea cable. Information technology (IT) projects are often dogged by corruption and/or mismanagement. It was revealed in the year 2010, that a wrong fibre-optic cable was being laid by a Chinese company. The Ministry of Education awarded a 3.9 million dollar contract to M/s Cyber School Technology in controversial circumstances. Electricity loadshedding and connectivity outages continue to plague the sector, in addition to vandalism and equipment failure. Furthermore, much of the content is not appropriate and fully responsive to the needs and aspirations of users at the grassroots. The fact is that the English language is spoken by about 20% of the population. But most of the content on-line is in English. The needs and aspirations of users, particularly farmers at the grassroots, have not been adequately catered for. In addition, poverty, illiteracy and lack of access to resources and services have curtailed the ability of users at the grassroots to make maximum use of ICTs for improved production and productivity. The urgency of addressing connectivity, content and capacity issues in a holistic manner is acute.

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