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Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Nigeria rated low in radio development

A global information society report has rated Nigeria the least in the development of community radios, in the West Africa sub-region.

The report published by the Global Information Society (GIS) Watch and made available to Champion Infotel, at the weekend stated that despite the avalanche of growth the nation has made in the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) that its still wanting in the development of community radios.

The report comes in series, examined the state of the field of ICT policy at local and global levels and particularly how policy impacts on the lives of people living in developing countries.

According to the report, out of the estimated 246 community radio stations in the sub-region, Mali leads the pack with 120, followed by Senegal with 44, Burkina Faso 27, Niger Republic 24, Republic of Benin 22, Ghana 8 and Nigeria taking the least with just 1.

This, the report added has affected adversely the efforts of the Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) in Nigeria and involvement of the underserved part of the country in the policy development.

The report anchored for the GIS Watch for Nigeria by Dr. John Dada of Fantsuam Foundation, noted that there is lack of holistic coherence and optimisation of resources in ICT for Development (ICT4D) initiatives in the country.

It went on to decry the inability of the government through the broadcast regulator, the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), to effect optimal change, adding that on February 8, this year, 2007, NBC granted 28 new licenses with six given to tertiary institutions while the remaining 22 were licensed to commercial entities.

The benefiting institutions included Auchi Polytechnic in Edo State, Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka and Madonna University, Okija both in Anambra State, the National Teachers Institute, Kaduna, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria and Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Osun State.

The report noted that the near absence of the voice of the Nigerian civil society in the nation’s policy development processes has deprived the nation of much-needed robust consultation and discussions in this regard.

While describing the civil society as the most vocal advocate for sustainable ICT for development, the report pointed out that given the nation’s recent military dictatorship, “it may be understandable that acquiring a culture of consultation and inclusive democratic governance is slow.”

The report, however, tasked the civil society organisations in the country on the challenges to face with the new government, suggesting that they should continue striving for the recognition of importance of community radio in this part of the world.

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