Monday, December 17, 2012

Promoting trade and e-Commerce in Nigeria

Trade is the voluntary exchange of goods and services and is an essential component for the healthy existence of all social systems. It allows an individual to obtain something desirable in a fair manner from another individual who also obtains something in return.
Over the years this model of exchange has evolved from direct exchange of goods, known as the barter system, to the use of legal tender, otherwise known as money for exchange. The means through which goods and services are provided and obtained evolved as exchange medium evolved. The current evolution of methods in which goods and services are provided can be attributed to contributions and capabilities provided by information technology. Electronic commerce is the term used to describe the “new” improved ways in which goods and services are exchanged using information technology. E-commerce has made trade relatively easy for businesses and this paper investigates its benefits and examines ways in which e-commerce can be promoted in a developing country like Nigeria.

Trade is a very essential part of the health of any economy. It is an activity that spans beyond national borders; the trading of goods and services across borders is referred to as international trade. International trade allows buyers and sellers of goods and services in various nations to take advantage of lower production costs and higher specialization. (Importance of International Trade, 2010)
E-commerce allows goods to be bought and sold with ease and most developed countries are making the most of electronic commerce. It has the potential to link the entire world in terms of trade and will reduce restriction associated with territory and location. E-commerce could help businesses reduce the cost of doing business through reducing the need to keep large amount of goods in the store. The advantages are numerous but outside the scope of this paper.
However, several factors are responsible for the snail pace growth of information technology in developing countries like Nigeria. One of the most notable factors is the high cost of bandwidth and access to the internet. Another case is the lack of technical knowledge to deal with issues related to the adoption, deployment and maintenance of computer systems used for electronic commerce. Furthermore, security and consumer trust is also an issue that begs attention in order for electronic commerce to gain wider acceptance. “Among many potential users, a serious lack of confidence in electronic commerce impedes usage” (Guilherme Alberto, 2007).
Moreover, the high cost of starting electronic commerce serves as an obstacle. Purchasing all the needed equipment normally requires some substantial investment. Also, companies that do not have personnel with adequate technical knowledge may need to hire external professionals which in most cases add to the cost.

How to Promote Trade in Nigeria

The one most important factor responsible for the snail place growth of electronic trading in Nigeria is the high cost associated with access, maintenance and hiring of employees. This cost discourages businesses from deploying electronic commerce systems. The high cost of access can be associated with lack of IT infrastructure, while the high cost of personnel to manage and maintain e-commerce systems can be attributed to the lack of local technical skill.
Lack of IT infrastructure can be tackled through a partnership between the government and the private sector. The government on one hand should provide an enabling environment, with policies that encourage IT service providers to run their businesses Nigeria. Hosting of applications or provision of internet services by IT providers is expensive due in part to the problem of electricity in the country. These companies claim that they run their businesses on generators and the cost propagates to the consumer. This suggests that the provision of steady electricity will help lower the cost of access to IT services while increasing the quality.

Security and Trust

Trust is a very important factor for any business transaction; more so for electronic commerce. Buyers as well as sellers need to build trust or confidence if electronic commerce is to survive in a developing country like Nigeria. “, only if buyers and sellers trust that orders and payments are conducted with minimal risk of deceit and abuse of any information provided, will they accept the Internet for electronic commerce purposes” (Guilherme Alberto, 2007). Buyers need to be assured that their private information remains so and will not be unlawfully used by the seller or sold to any third party without consent.
To promote trust and confidence, the governments need to adopt laws and policies aimed and consumer protection over the internet, as well as laws that protect the seller. Laws range from those that protect privacy to those that help to enforce contracts between buyer and seller, including intellectual property rights. Governments also have to establish and enforce standards to oversee the manner and time in which goods and services are delivered to the consumer after payment has been received.


Even if all the desired IT facilities exist, they are only as good as how many managers and customers are aware of their existence. So, awareness campaign aimed at sensitizing managers and the general public on the possibilities should be embarked upon. Managers can attend seminars that teach how to increase the “bottom line” with information technology. While businesses can advertise how easy, secure and convenient it is to purchase goods and services from them over the internet.

General Technical Knowledge

Potential customers need to be sensitized about issues related to privacy and security of their information. And most importantly, the general public needs to have the technical skill required to access the internet. So a computer literacy scheme needs to be in place to allow interested members of the public acquire computer knowledge.


In order to define the best strategy for promoting electronic commerce in Nigeria, we need to examine the landscape and all factors that affect it. Factors like computer literacy, cost of internet access, general technical knowledge etc. all need to be put into consideration.  However, wide deployment of electronic commerce will help drive Nigeria forward, economically and socially.



Business link. (2010). Securing your e-commerce systems. Retrieved December 4, 2010, from Business Link:
Guilherme Alberto, A. d. (2007). Promoting e-Commerce in Developing Countries. Internet
            Governance and Policy Discussion Papers .

Hawk, S. (2002). B2C e-commerce in developing countries: a comparison of India,Latin America and Russia. 5th International Business and Economics Conference. St. Norbert College. De Pere: Norbert College.
Money Instructor. (n.d.). Importance of International Trade. Retrieved December 11, 2010, from

E-Voting and Nigeria’s Democracy

An election is an event at which someone or a group of people is chosen to hold positions of responsibility or leadership.  It ensures that a leader is chosen by the majority of the populace and not by a powerful minority.  However, some candidates may seek to get a political office by all means and adopt shady methods or techniques to manipulate the election results in their favor.  This practice has been seen in developed countries that are presumably at the forefront of democratic governance from election disputes to alleged rigging by candidates.  
If an election is widely perceived as flawed, arguments and prejudice normally follows  and much time will be spent on arbitration in law courts.
The most popular method of voting is the traditional paper ballot system in which a candidate’s name is marked and dropped through a slit into a box, by the electorates.  The box is opened after the casting of votes and the ballot papers are manually counted.  Counting is done in a transparent manner and the candidate with the highest number of marks against his/her name wins the election.  Ideally, the election should end peacefully and the transfer of office follows but it is hardly the case especially in a country like Nigeria where several factors hinder the proper conduction of elections.  One of the most significant factors that hinder the proper conduct of elections is the tendency to exploit the paper ballot system and manipulate results. 
However, several precautionary measures can be taken to ensure that a good number of loopholes associated with the traditional ballot system are plugged.  This paper will discuss flaws associated with the traditional ballot system and compare it with the newly proposed electronic voting system.  It will further examine social and ethical implications of adopting electronic voting and investigate what factors associated with electronic voting can work against a true democratic election in a developing country like Nigeria. 
Nigeria: Demographic

Nigeria is a country with over 150 million people.  Sixty-eight percent (68% ) of the total population of the country is literate out of which men constitute 75.1% and women 60.6%. (CIA - The World Factbook, 2010).  This directly translates to 102 million literate Nigerians made up of 76.5 million and 25.5 million literate men and women respectively. 

Computer ownership and computer literacy rate

Computers have spread to all parts of the world.  However, universal access to computers and ICT is begging improvement especially in the less developed parts of the world.  Computer literacy rate is also not universal and has plenty of room for improvement.   Less than half the population of Nigeria own computers while a greater number are not computer litereate, the minor remainder own computers.  Moreover, most of the people who are computer literate only know how to use word processors.  Only 5% of the total population is internet literate of which only a fraction has regular access.  (AHIAKWO)

Paper Ballot system in Nigeria (problems)

Several problems plague the paper ballot system in Nigeria.  One big factor often blamed for the problems associated with the paper ballot system in Nigeria is corruption.  Politicians engage in several corrupt practices to ensure victory on Election Day.  Election rigging can be performed directly at the polling booths and has been alleged to also occur indirectly from the headquarters or state division of the electoral commission.  Stealing and stuffing of ballot boxes with fake ballot papers is one of the activities associated with election rigging. To steal ballot boxes, some politicians hire 'thugs' who will go to polling stations to cause chaos. The objective is to disrupt the electoral process, find an opportunity to steal the ballot box and disenfranchise voters. The end result is stuffed ballot boxes with fake ballots which is quietly delivered to the state offices of the electoral commission.  Another method of rigging directly involves officials of the state electoral commission. The officials manipulate the results in favor of a candidate with whom they have some kind of shady understanding.  
Public loss of confidence and low voter turn up in subsequent elections is often a consequence of the corrupt electoral process. In order to curb or avoid the negative trend, some countries are leaning toward the adoption of electronic voting systems.   
Electronic voting

Electronic voting is the employment of information and communication technologies for carrying out activities that involve the collection, aggregation and counting of votes.  “It is the process of casting, counting and transmitting ballot information electronically” (Ago K MacGranaky-Quaye, 2010).  The impact and benefit of information technology on other aspects of human endeavor such as research, trade and commerce cannot be overemphasized. Therefore the employment of information technology for election is an attempt to bring forth benefits of IT to the process however, it may not be without some social, ethical and legal implications.
Some potential benefits of electronic voting include elimination of invalid votes, the speedy aggregation and counting of votes; it may even allow citizens abroad to participate in the election over the internet etc but there may be unintended problems with an election conducted electronically.   First on the list of problems that may not be envisioned by electronic voting activists is the fact that a huge percentage of the population lacks the technical knowledge to operate electronic voting machines.  On one hand, if only technically savvy individuals are allowed to participate in the electoral process, a great number of people could be disenfranchised on election day due to their technical limitation. On the other hand, if non tech savvy people are allowed to vote with 'special assistance' then it may become trivial to mislead voters into casting votes for the 'wrong' candidate without their knowledge.
Secondly, the issue of IT security is also worthy of attention.  Electronic voting can be compromised in several ways by malicious programmers who are able to find security vulnerabilities in the system.  An attack may be in the form of a “denial of service” attack. A DOS is an attack aimed at shutting down or disrupting the ability for a computer system to provide services to clients.  On Election Day, a successful DOS attack could shut down the voting machines and could be an effective means of disenfranchising voters.  In addition to a DOS attack, a “Man in the Middle” system can be secretly set up to intercept and switch votes before they are submitted to a central e-voting collation server. (Ago K MacGranaky-Quaye, 2010)
Apart from security issues, other potential problems with software and hardware reliability also exist.  The electronic voting software may contain undetected errors or bugs. Hardware and software can breakdown or refuse to work and can potentially alter final results.  “The fear is that errors in the software – either accidental or deliberately introduced – can undetectable alter the final tallies” (Schneier, 2004).
Moreover, even if we assume that the above listed problems do not exist;  There are other potential problems that could threaten the free and fair conduction of elections.  Issues range from remote electronic rigging to vote interception and rerouting.  In the former, it could be possible for the administrators in charge of the electronic voting system to easily manipulate the numbers in favor of their candidate.   Some would argue that it provides the “corrupt” ones more power to easily manipulate and rig elections.  
Economic, social and national security issues also exist considering a developing economy such as Nigeria. The sophistication of e-voting equipment and the limited ability of local companies to manufacture many of the required materials suggest that they will be purchased abroad.  This will negatively affect local research efforts and decrease employment opportunities in that area since the country will allocate a greater percentage of the election budget on acquiring the needed equipment from foreign companies. 

Considering all the problems associated with electronic voting, it may be useful to implement both the manual and electronic versions side by side.  It will ensure that voters who lack the savvy or technical sophistication can select the voting method they prefer.  In the event of a denial of service attack or suspected man in the middle attack, then voting can gracefully revert to manual method without cancelling or postponing the election. 

My opinion

 There could be more unintended consequences of electronic voting that cannot be revealed without proper examination.  So, a good strategy is to take a holistic view of the problem (corruption in the electoral process) to understand how various factors such as poverty, low literacy rate etc, lead to the problem.  If we understand how the factors lead to the problem then we can think of policies that can lead to a lasting solution.  I think that electronic voting is only as good as the potential gain it can bring to the majority.  Corruption is the biggest problem that should be tackled and if electronic voting is an attempt to tackle corruption then it is a fix that will fail.  Elections conducted electronically can also be rigged by simply exploiting security holes, software errors, hardware errors, and administrative manipulation.  
Without corruption in Nigeria, the traditional paper ballot system will be good enough for the process.  This will come without the overhead of expenditure on equipment purchases from foreign companies, or the negative economic and social issues associated with it. 


Ago K MacGranaky-Quaye, N.  N.  (2010).  Information Technology Imperatives and Attendant Security Issues for Implementing E-voting in Developing Economics - the cases of Ghana and Nigeria.
CIA - The World Factbook.  (2010, October 27).  Retrieved November 3, 2010, from
E.A.  Arubayi, P.  O.  (2009).  Variability in Regional Access to Higher Education in Nigeria: Implicaiton of Equity and Even Development among the Niger Delta States.  J Soc Sci, , 143-148.
Ogunkola, B.  J.  (2008).  Computer Attitude, Ownership and Use as Predictors of Computer Literacy of Science Teachers in Nigeria.  International Journal of Environmental & Science Education , 53-57.
Schneier, B.  (2004, November 9).  Schneier on Security: The problem with electronic voting machines.  Retrieved November 21, 2010, from Open Democracy:

Off-shoring, offshore outsourcing, near-shoring, co-shoring and information security cost: A comparative study

Off-shoring, offshore outsourcing, near-shoring, co-shoring and information security cost: A comparative study.

The main objective of any individual or group going into business is to make profit.    Their profit is the difference between the cost of providing the good or service and the actual cost to the consumer.   As more companies venture into the same line of business the competition for customers gets intense thus bringing into play the law of supply and demand.   Oversupply of a good or service pushes the price consumer has to pay down.   These forces have pushed managers and business strategists into the search for ways to increase the bottom line while reducing cost of good or service delivery.   
      Using information technology has been a way to maintain business competitive advantage for many of the biggest companies.   Typical uses of information technology in business are the automation of payroll, human resource management, key business processes etc.   The desire by managers and business owners to increase the bottom line has further pushed them to explore several strategies to further reduce the cost contribution of IT to the total cost of goods and services they provide.   Among such strategies include off-shoring, offshore outsourcing, near-shoring and co-shoring all aimed at reducing cost of the information technology used by a company.   This paper aims to explore all the above listed strategies and specify the most cost effective measure associated with information security risks to adapt. 

      Outsourcing is the hiring out of work by a company to a separate existing unit or company with more specialization that can do them more efficiently and less expensively.    This helps the company outsourcing work increase profit while shedding work.   Over the years businesses have adopted the strategy at several degrees and models.   Off-shoring, offshore outsourcing, near-shoring and co-shoring all forms of outsourcing which businesses adopt to reduce the cost they spend on their information technology department.   

      Off shoring is the moving or relocation of a section of a business to another country or geographical location. The driving force for managers is to take advantage of lower cost of labor or available technology in the offshore location. Managers are constantly seeking ways to lower the increase profit by lowering cost of their goods and services in order to remain competitive because    lower costs translate to higher profit, all things being equal.    Not only does this strategy help to reduce cost, it also allows the company to provide better goods and/or services as a result of the outsourced part being handled by a more specialized entity.   Off-shoring may not mean outsourcing jobs to another separate company but may also mean that a company simply moved a section of its business to another country.   Although there are several advantages of off shoring such as lower costs and possibly higher quality of service, there are also disadvantages or negative implications associated with it.   The major concern is an economic one and deals with the loss of jobs.   Moving jobs outside a country reduces the number of available jobs locally thus contributing to unemployment.   Problems can also arise due to long distance between the company and its offshore counterpart.   Additional expenses might be introduced because of necessary trips to offshore locations thereby adding to operating cost and ultimately reducing or working against profitability of the company business.   The control a company wields over its off shored division is inversely proportional to the distance between the company and the off shore location.   (What does onshoring,offshoring,nearshoring mean?, 2010). More simply, the control a company wields over its off-shore counterpart decreases as the distance between them increases.  Misunderstandings may arise due to inherent communication problems that accompany long distance collaboration.
      On the other hand, near-shoring is the relocation of a part of a business to a location that is relatively near.   We quickly notice that problems of distance associated with off shoring are addressed in near-shoring.   Other advantages over off shoring include better control of the business process because of closer proximity.   Also, shorter distance form partners means lower travel expenses to partner locations especially for companies whose employees have to travel frequently to partner locations.   (What does onshoring,offshoring,nearshoring mean?, 2010).  Thus, near-shoring affords the ability to effectively and easily collaborate. 

      Another business strategy is offshore outsourcing which is similar to off-shoring but another company in a relatively far country takes care of the job being outsourced.   Many companies outsource work to other companies they feel are cheaper and more specialized. 
Additionally, co-shoring is a model which combines off-shoring and on-shoring.   “Co-shoring is a new model for implementing IT projects with on-shore and off-shore components”.   (Co-shoring, 2010).   It combines the advantages of both models and eliminates most of their disadvantages.   In terms of information security, a company can choose to manage sensitive part of the business itself while outsourcing other parts of business that need less tight security.   

      Considering the above options for outsourcing of work, co-shoring is arguably the one that has the lowest information security risks.    It pulls advantages from off-shoring and near-shoring into one business model while reducing disadvantages associated with adopting any of them in isolation.   For information security concerns, a company can decide to manage jobs that contain sensitive information near-shore instead of moving it to their offshore partners.   This helps companies have sufficient control over their data because of the proximity.   Furthermore, costs are further reduced especially if the critical jobs that require constant travel are done by near-shore partners and not so critical jobs done off-shore.  This contrasts with full off-shoring which may have greater labor cost reduction but greater travel expenses that can neutralize the effect of reduced labor cost.   







Co-shoring.   (2010, 04 15).   Retrieved 10 17, 2010, from Wikipedia: http://en.  wikipedia.  org/wiki/Co-
Ellis-Christensen, T.   (2010, 09 09).   What is nearshore outsourcing? Retrieved 10 17, 2010, from Wise
Geek: http://www.  wisegeek.  com/what-is-nearshore-outsourcing.  htm
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Management Trainee: http://www.  managementtrainee.  co.  uk/what-does-onshoring-offshoring-nearshoring-mean.  html


How the legal environment and the key IT security and privacy issue affect information management in any business environment

How the legal environment and the key IT security and privacy issue affect information management in any business environment. 

People have the right to protect their personal information from prying eyes or the general public.  This right is a regarded as one of the fundamental human rights and is known as the right to privacy.  As with all rights, any one whose privacy has been infringed can sue the offending party.  On the other hand there has to be some balance between how much information about people is available to the general public and how much they keep away.  This balance is needed because of the influence too much or too little available information about people would have on how the society functions.  For instance, some businesses depend on customer information to run efficiently and it is often necessary for them to store the information.  The practice raises several issues regarding who owns the pool of personal information gathered from people and for what purpose it can be used.    This paper seeks to investigate or explore how the legal environment and key IT security and privacy issues affect information management in any business environment. 
Keywords: Information Technology, United Nations

“Privacy can simply be defined as the state of being free from intrusion or disturbance in one’s private life or affairs” (  It is a fundamental human right which is protected by law in most of the advanced countries.  This is stated clearly in the UN declaration of human rights: “No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honor and reputation.  Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks”.  (The United Nations, 1948)
While many are aware of the importance of privacy a greater number are unaware probably because they have not given the issue careful contemplation or they just do not care and thus risk the dissemination of their private information to the “wrong” individuals or group who may use that information to cause some form of harm.  However, businesses and society sometimes need pieces of information about customers or individuals to function properly.  Absolute privacy will incline to strangle or stagnate processes or scenarios which form essential parts of societies.  In the medical institutions for instance, a doctor may need to obtain medical records of a patient since it constitutes an essential piece of required information in patient diagnosis and treatment, or members of the public may want information about an aspiring political candidate to be available to aid in their judgments.  If such essential information is unavailable, then the process is frustrated therefore, there is need to maintain some balance between information that people make available to the public and those they keep from the public. 
The current advancement in information technology has provided businesses and customers with facilities for easy transactions and purchases.  These transactions often require the storage of customer information by the business.  IT facilities can store all kinds of information ranging from credit or debit card details to kind of item(s) purchased and thus this raises issues, questions and concern as to what the business can do with that information.  Companies claim they use information gathered from their customers to know or gain insight into customer purchasing habits and choice, so as to be able to provide better services or do target advertising.  (J.Efrim Boritz, 2008).   On the other hand  information about a customer can be used to cause ‘harm’ ranging from illegal charges on credit cards or unsolicited emails and other forms of advertisement by marketing teams that monitor the kind of items a customer purchases.  Consequently,  “private information needs be to stored securely so data security is an important aspect, indeed a prerequisite, of privacy protection, but privacy protection goes beyond mere data security to encompass what and how private information is exchanged and used to provide services”.  (Williams, 2009)
Information management. 
Information management is the gathering and distribution of information about individuals or events from different sources for some meaningful purpose.  Individuals may not have direct control over bits and pieces of information gathered about them from different sources and an aggregation of those pieces may constitute ‘too much’ detail and, in the hands of the ‘wrong’ group can be used to cause ‘harm’. 
Most of the harm caused with available information about an individual is usually not perpetrated by the company which is the primary source but instead by other parties with motives not within bounds of proper practice.  However, the legal environment insists that the primary source from which ‘too much’ information is unlawfully made public is responsible for any harm inflicted on any individual as a result of their slack in information security. 
Businesses have therefore adapted, over the years, to the legal demands as regards privacy and security of individual records by taking firm precautions. 
Intentional or unintentional disclosure of information considered private, about any individual or group of individuals by any source can have serious consequences under the law.  Consequences include paying for material, psychological, emotional damages and/or imprisonment of individuals found culpable.  Therefore, information management in the business environment is done within the narrow legal and privacy boundaries. 
Security measures
In order to ensure that information management stays within already specified information laws, information managers in the business environment are forced to take legal and security measures essential to guaranteeing to some degree that an individual’s private information is not unlawfully disclosed.  Malicious hackers can break into unsecured computer networks owned by businesses to steal customer information therefore, businesses are required to guard against information theft with the use of specialized hardware and software such as firewalls, anti-spyware and third party authentication sites.  Furthermore, they also have to seek permission to store or use information about customers and guarantee some reasonable level of security. 
A balance constantly has to be maintained between legal entities advocating for privacy, and businesses that need information for the provision of better goods and services.  We have explored several privacy issues and concerns related to details stored by businesses about customers and we also looked at various precautions enforced by privacy and legal issues on information management in businesses.  As technology continues to evolve, more privacy issues will be raised and so do information policies and security measures employed by businesses. 


Cisco Systems. (2005). TOP FIVE SECURITY ISSUES FOR SMALL AND MEDIUM-SIZED BUSINESSES. California: Cisco Systems. (n.d.). Privacy. Retrieved November 16, 2010, from
J.Efrim Boritz, W. G. (2008). Internet Privacy in E-Commerce: Framework, Review, and Opportunities for Future Research. 41st Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences. Hawaii: IEEE Computer Society.
The United Nations. (1948, December 10). The Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Retrieved November 16, 2010, from United Nations:
Williams, M.-A. (2009). Privacy Management, the law & Business Strategies: A Case for Privacy Driven Design. International Conference on Computational Science and Engineering (pp. 60-67). IEEE Computer society.