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Dr Anderson Uvie-Emegbo - Communicating Technology - A Mid Term Review
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Tuesday, 25 June 2013 19:55

Communicating Technology - A Mid Term Review Featured

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I recently interviewed Nigeria’s Minister of Communication Technology, Mrs Omobola Johnson. It was at the African Business Conference organized by the MBA students of the Lagos Business School. She had just concluded her panel session on “Developing Software Businesses in Africa”.

She had this to say regarding my question about what Nigerians should expect from her ministry over the next 2 years,

“we would continue building ICT infrastructure so that broadband can become ubiquitous and affordable. We would help to build successful local ICT businesses so that Nigerians can be active participants in those ICT businesses. We would also continue to explore more ways in which ICT can be used for socio-economic development. For instance an intervention such as text messages from health workers to pregnant women is helping to reduce maternal mortality”.

With Mrs Omobola Johnson, Minister Communications Technology, Nigeria

The validation of the minister’s answers came last week in the form of a tweet from a friend referring me to the Mid Term report of the Ministry of Communication Technology presented on the 18th of June 2013.

My focus in this post is on how the ministry has communicated its achievements as contained in the report. I would be doing so using the 3CS Framework – Channels, Content, Customer Experience and Stakeholders.

Content

The 58-page report/presentation is available on the Slideshare account of the Federal Ministry of Information. 

The video of Mrs Johnson’s presentation is also available on the Federal Ministry of Information’s You Tube channel


Surprisingly neither the video nor the report document are on the ministry’s website.

The report detailed the ministry’s vision, its achievements in the last 2 years as well as what it hopes to achieve by 2015. The report gave quantitative and qualitative indicators of the performance criteria used.

Having studied the report, it is obvious that the level of achievements recorded in the period under review is quite commendable. A few examples:

  1. Secured agreements with state governments to eliminate multiple taxation and reduced application period and cost of procuring Right of Way (ROW) to 21 days and N145,000 (USD 906.25) per linear km (from N6.5 M or USD 40,625) respectively;

  2. Students Computer Ownership Scheme involving over 50 universities;


    Students Computer Ownership Scheme Portal


  3. Local content initiatives such as TechLaunchPad and Incubation Centres to drive innovation, job creation and local content development;


    Screenshot of the home page of Techlaunchpad Nigeria's website


  4. The development and ongoing rollout of standardized government website template for ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs);

  5. Approval of the Nigeria National Broadband Plan (2013-2018).

Channels

The ministry has a website (desktop & mobile versions), a Facebook page and a Twitter handle.  Right now the ministry has no official presence on any document, video or photo sharing sites. What is the digital channel strategy for ministries, departments and agencies (MDA)? Beyond websites, any standardized template for the digital channels each MDA should have? MDAs cannot depend solely on the digital channels of the Federal Ministry of Information (or each would not need its own website).

A review of the ministry’s Facebook page shows that it has been used mainly as a reporting channel. With over 1,000 followers and the most recent updates of all its channels, its Twitter handle happens to be the more preferred social engagement platform for the ministry. More often that not, these tweets do not link back to the website (reason – maybe because there are few updates there). Outdated information weakens a website’s reliability as an effective channel of communication. It is also not advisable to make social media sites the main stay of its digital brand.

Customer Experience

The ministry’s content and channels needs to be well integrated so that they reinforce one another. We should not be made to second-guess what content would be where. A situation in which critical content such as the Mid-Term Report is located outside its channels undersells the ministry. It is about communicating Technology.

Stakeholders

For a ministry with key ongoing initiatives for youths, it needs to galvanize institutions and industry partners towards pushing these mutually beneficial initiatives also through their (partners’) digital channels. Partners need to go beyond having the press mentions of initiatives on their channels to real engagement with their fans.

With less than 800 fans on Facebook, barely 1,100 fans on Twitter, Mid-Term Report video views of 44 and Mid-Term Report document views of less than 800 (as at 24th June 2013), surely these statistics grossly undervalue the level of achievement made by the ministry. There is also the need to involve the greater ICT community and indeed a lot more Nigerians using social media.

What Can the Ministry Do To Improve?

To improve its digital mileage, here are a couple of things the ministry can do starting now:

1)    Upload the various formats of the Mid-Term Report on its website;

2)    Remove the broken & non-functioning links on the website;

3)    Optimize the level of engagement on its Facebook page;

4)    Follow some brands on Twitter including other MDAs, its local and international partners, etc;

5)    Create a You Tube channel and upload the various videos of the ministry;

6)    “It is not about what you do. It is how you report it”. In an era where citizens mistrust governments, content marketing is key. With initiatives like TechLaunchPad, Student Computer Ownership Scheme and Incubation Centres, now is the time to create believable ongoing human angle stories that “show” and not just “tell” what has been done. Who are the finalists of TechLaunchPad? Who were the judges that made the selection? The process must be perceived to be fair and inclusive.

6 days after a video “Techlaunchpad finalists speak” was uploaded on the TechLaunchPad You Tube channel, it had received less than 14 views. In all, the channel has received a total of 121 views in 6 months. This should not be! How well informed were/are “stakeholders” about the initiative(s)? Such details need to be on the ministry’s digital channels and those of its partners.


Closing Thoughts


The conversation has started. Transparency and inclusive governance are possible if we play our part. Use the hashtag #MP2013 to be part of the conversation on Twitter. You can find the reports of other MDAs by clicking here

P.S: From information available online, some of the firms that participated in the selection stages of the Techlaunchpad initiative include: African Computers Limited, ISEC Solutions, Inteliworx Technology, PetroTech Limited and Proworks

Click Here to see this article in the Punch Newspapers.

 

 

Dr Anderson Uvie-Emegbo

                          Web Contact

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