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Investment Openings in Online Education in Nigeria: CTO 2002 (Posted 1st Jul, 2002) Tell your friends about this page! Email it to them.

There is an annual event held in Lagos, Nigeria that many private and even public information communication technology (ICT) operators do not toy with as the month of May approaches. It is believed to be the biggest ICT gathering in the country and the level of participation from all sectors in the field is a testimony to this fact. But, there is a big irony to the whole affair, this major ICT cross-road is not organized by the Nigerian Government - State or Federal - or the private sector but by the Commercial Service of the United States Consulate General, Lagos. Though, the advent of globalisation is shrinking nation-states territorial and national barriers to make the world a closely knitted market place of ideas and invention. But, it is also a great indictment of the Nigerian
organised private sector (OPS) and the Government in this vital area of interaction.

Getting back to the raison d'etre, this year's Computers, Telecommunications and Office Equipment Exhibition (CTO) was tagged: Learning to Earn: How to Profit from the Internet with a strong focus on distance and online learning. It is interesting how the Internet is bridging the literacy divide between the developed and the developing countries through online educational and instructional facilities. Giving the keynote address at the exhibition, the United States Ambassador to Nigeria Mr Howard Jeter, traced the development of online education in America and the grant programmes available to interested colleges, universities, companies, and non-profit organizations in the States.
He noted the effort of the President Olusegun Obasanjo administration in the area of Information Technology (I.T.) as contained in the National Policy for Information Technology. On the part of the U.S., machinery is being put in place to assist Nigeria through The Education for Development and Democracy Initiative (EDDI), with the establishment of six (6) information technology community resource centres in the country. Jeter hit the bull eye by identifying the major factor for the retrogressive African society in developmental terms by noting the wide disparity between policy pronouncements and policy implementation between developed and developing nations.

Many speakers were invited to deliver multifarious papers on the Internet, distance education development and prospect in Nigeria, power of ideas, among others. But, the anchor of this piece is on the investment opportunities that online education will create within the Nigerian economy. What is online education? Frequent visitors to the www world would have bumped into a site for certifications or would have got offers of an online degree. Basically, online education as the name denotes, is having access to instructions via the Internet. It operates in a very simple manner, all you need do is use an Internet connected PC to seek an institution that offers online educational facilities, maybe China, fill online forms, pay your fees online, receive instructions online, get examined online and obtain your degree or certificate online. All these could be done at the relative comfort of your apartment in Ajegunle and the certificate obtained is acceptable international.

The Nigerian government in her desire to explore the super highway of online education jettisoned the idea of satellite university campus initiative in the country and promised the populace the roll out of distance education as succour. Towards this direction the efforts of the National Information Technology Agency (NITDA) and Nigerian Universities Commission is highly commendable. Also, the unilateral drive of institutions like Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Ile-Ife, who will launch their Virtual University Program by September 2002 should be noted. Following right behind the trail-blazing OAU are University of Nigeria, Nsukka, University of Calabar, Calabar, University of Technology, Uyo, University of Jos, Jos, and Uthman Dan Fodio University, Sokoto.

So what are the openings in this fast growing sub-sector? The opportunities are as wide as your imagination can explore. First, online education will surely need Virtual Instructional Centres (VIC), for the purpose of receiving lectures for those that do not have online PC's at home. Second, for the purposes of research and development their will be need for Virtual Resource and Library Centres (VRLC) where a wide network into prominent online universities and resource centres across the globe is established.

Third, a programme of instructions would be needed to coach trainers of trainer. This is another avenue for investment a training base. Four, consultancy services for would-be-students on the best online institution that will suit their particular need. Five, a big market will be available for additional services in computer hardware and software, networking, internet connection, computer repairs and servicing among others.

So, this is a virgin market for intense developmental drive and the benefits are transparent. Though, it is advised that the Nigerian government should quickly set-up a sort of regulatory agency to monitor the sub-sector. Indeed, Nigeria can the break the information divide within a short period with its vast population and IT investible sectors with the right policies and drive. Online education will surely improve the lives of individual Nigerians as the GSM revolution did.

NB: Interested investors can contact the site editor for further information and business
links in Nigeria.

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