A CENTURY OF TELECOMMUNICATIONS DEVELOPMENT IN NIGERIA--WHAT NEXT? G.
O. Ajayi, R. I. Salawu, and T. I. Raji
Since its inception a little over a century ago, Nigeria's telecommunications system has progressed through various stages of development from the primitive communications equipment in its colonial days to the enormous variety of technologies availabl e today. In this chapter, the processes of Nigeria's telecommunications development and its progress, problems, and prospects are examined and discussed from its emergence to the expansion and modernization efforts of the 1990s. 2.0 THE PAST
2.1 Preindependence Era
The development of telecommunications in Nigeria began in 1886 when a cable connection was established between Lagos and the colonial office in London. By 1893, government offices in Lagos were provided with telephone service, which was later extended to Ilorin and Jebba in the hinterland. A slow but steady process of development in the years that followed led to the gradual formation of the nucleus of a national telecommunications network. In 1923, the first commercial trunk telephone service between Itu and Calabar was established. Between 1946 and 1952, a three-channel line carrier system was commissioned between Lagos and Ibadan and was later extended to Oshogbo, Kaduna, Kano, Benin, and Enugu; thus connecting the colonial office in London with Lagos and the commercial centers in the country with local authority offices. The main transmission medium during the preindependence era was unshielded twisted pair. This evolved later from rural carrier systems on high gauge lines to line carrier systems of twelve-channel capacity. Small- to medium-capacity systems employing VHF and UHF radio were introduced around 1955. The first serious attempt at planning telecommunications services in the country was the 1955-62 Development Programme. It provided for the expansion of the trunk using a VHF Multichannel Radio System on a na tionwide basis and a short microwave link between Lagos and Ibadan. In the early days, the primitive coordinate pegboard switching system was used. This progressed through manual switchboards of different sizes, shapes, and capacities until Strowger exchanges were installed into the national network at Lagos Island, I keja, Ebute Metta, Apapa, and Port Harcourt between 1955-60 along with 116 manual exchanges. The installation of the Strowger exchanges marked the beginning of automatic telephone switching in Nigeria. By the time of independence, automatic exchanges were established at the main centers and a subscriber trunk dialing system (STD) was introduced between Lagos and Ibadan. The telegraph service also witnessed a parallel development, from telegraph delivery by way of manual coordinate pegboard switching to the use of Morse code for telex switching. By about 1960, a manual telex exchange of sixty subscriber lines was in s ervice in Lagos. While all the above efforts were essentially aimed at improving internal telephone services in Nigeria, external telephone services in the preindependence period were wholly owned by Cable and Wireless of the United Kingdom, which was a c olonial private company. 2.1 Postcolonial Era
With the attainment of independence in 1960, Nigeria embarked on a periodic national development plan. Telecommunications development was featured in each of these plans, which were usually of a five-year duration. It is more meaningful, however, to d iscuss the development of Nigeria's telecommunications since independence--its objectives, achievements, and features--on a decade-by-decade basis. 2.1.1 The 1960s
The focus of attention in this period was the expansion of the network to meet the needs of the fledging commercial and industrial. The specific objectives included: installation of additional 60,000 telephone lines to bring the total number of lines to 90,000 by the end of the decade; expansion of trunk dialing facilities...
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