Tuesday, December 20, 2005

MTN Provides Nigerian Varsity with Digital Library

Corporate entities appear to be stepping up to the plate in provide much needed infrastructure to educational institutions in Nigeria. One of the country's wireless cellular phone operators, MTN, connected the University of Lagos* to its MTN Universities Connect program last week, according to news report. Given my disparaging prose in earlier blog- "Nigerian Universities: Built for Eggheads, Manned by Morons"- this development is simply delightful!

Excerpts from the Daily Independent:

"...Just last week the MTN, one of the four telecommunications giants, commissioned the “Universities Connect”, which is aimed at ensuring availability of library materials for university students and staff. With the MTN “Universities Connect” the university community would be linked to the outside world for reference books for research materials as well as projects.

Speaking at the commissioning ceremony at the University of Lagos, Executive Director, MTN Foundation, Mrs. Amina Oyagbola, said the company’s corporate social responsibility was the key to a long-term business strategy, and the foundation, which was commissioned in May 2005, is the vehicle for aggressive agenda in this respect.

“For us, corporate social responsibility is about making practical, positive impact on people's lives everywhere you go. It requires us to understand clearly the issues that concern our key stakeholders and our society and intervene in a way that is sustainable and guarantees maximum impact to a large number of people...

“We initiated ‘Schools Connect’ last year. To date we have completed the second phase, and we commenced the third phase in October this year. So far, our efforts through this project have been felt in six states and 24 secondary schools across all geo-political zones in Nigeria...Universities Connect” project, which was rolled out in collaboration with Netlibrary, was a logical extension of the MTN Schools Connect project and the focus is the transformation of university libraries to meet the challenges of the digital age."

The project would be used in harnessing technology and innovation, and leveraging the intellectual resources of over 5,500 libraries, organisations, publishers of academic journals, professional reference and scholarly works. This library will support the assembly and creative use of up-to-date information at the click of a mouse.

“This world-class digital library here at the University of Lagos is equipped with 125 networked computers, three laser jet printers, a server, and VSAT-based Internet connectivity. We have also completely overhauled the library furniture, fittings and the reading area, giving a favourable environment through space renovation, provision of adequate lighting, 15 air-conditioners, furniture and alternative power generation. The library is also guaranteed two-year subscription to journals, books, etc., as well as a two-year maintenance contract will also be initiated to ensure the environment is adequately maintained. Training will also commence for at least five existing library staff, who will work with Netlibrary over the two-year contract period...”
At last, it seems the future isn't that bleak anymore.

*Correction: It is University of Lagos and NOT University of Nigeria as written earlier.