Academic journal article Library Philosophy and Practice

A Critical Examination of Information and Communication Technology Policies: Effects on Library Services in Nigeria

Academic journal article Library Philosophy and Practice

A Critical Examination of Information and Communication Technology Policies: Effects on Library Services in Nigeria

Article excerpt

Introduction

The pervasiveness and importance of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) throughout the economy and society can't be ignored. The former United Nations Secretary-general Kofi Annan, stated that, "If harnessed properly, Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) have the potential to improve all aspects of our social, economic and cultural life ICT can serve as an engine for development in the twenty--first century" (Annan, 2003). The question that readily comes to mind, how can the ICTs policy challenges be addressed at both national and international levels, and in all sectors? It is worthy to note that, there are other key areas of national development that collectively with IT development policies forms the complete web of national ICT growth oriented strategy. Adomi (2006), asserted that for the past two decades, most developed countries have witnessed significant changes that can be traced to information and communication technologies (ICTs). These multidimensional changes (technical, financial and economic, cultural, social and geo-political) have been observed in almost all aspect of life: economic, education, communications, leisure, and travel. Furthermore, the changes observed in these countries have led to what is now referred to as the knowledge society. ICTs have made it possible to find fast access to, and distribution of information as well as new ways of doing business in real time at a cheaper cost. However, a considerable gap exists between developing countries, notably African countries, and developed ones in terms of the contribution of ICTs to the creation of wealth. The gap tends to widen between developed countries, the technology suppliers, and the receiving developing countries. At the same time, the gap between the elites and the grassroots communities within these developing countries is also expanding in terms of their access to ICTs. If measures are not taken to make ICTs both affordable and easy to use, access to them will be insignificant in developing countries like Nigeria (Adomi, 2006).

The question of digital divide has appeared in library and information science literature frequently as impacting negativity on the provision of library and information services. The digital divide, a disparity in access to ICTs between countries and communities is caused by many factors. They include; inadequate infrastructure, high cost of access, inappropriate or weak policy regimes, inefficiency in the provision of telecommunication network, language divides, and lack of locally created content (Mutula, 2004). The divide creates an environment where the disadvantage groups in society are unable to contribute and benefit from the information age and global communities created by the Internet. In most countries of Sub-Sahara Africa, the high cost of access to telecommunication services, is an impediment to access to ICTs. This is exacerbated by the fact that IT has not effectively been integrated in the development agenda of most countries as reflected in the lack of ICT policies (Mutula, 2004). The question of digital divide phenomenon and its implications for the provision of information services should concern information professionals regarding how it should be addressed. The digital divide, if is not properly addressed, has the negative impact on the provision of information services, under-utilization of information resources in libraries, and information sharing. The diffusion of ICT into Africa is at a snail's speed, such that the gap between the information-rich developed countries and Africa continues to increase everyday. Africa has 13% of the world population, but only 2% of world telephone lines and 1% of Internet connectivity measured in terms of number of Internet hosts and Internet users (Ogunsola, 2005).

The advancement in technology has created so many ICT tools that are necessary and useful in the development process. These new technologies have become central to contemporary societies (Aswalap, 2005). …

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