The Nigerian landing point will be at Lagos. Nigerian towns will be connected to Lagos by fiber-optic lines and Nigerian homes, schools and businesses with personal computers can access the Internet by making inexpensive local telephone calls.


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Philip Emeagwali
interviewed by Reuben Abati for The Nigerian Guardian.


Are you working on anything which could be mass-reproduced for ordinary use?
I prefer to conduct research investigations that will benefit the masses. My earlier work that helps oil companies recover more oil benefits the masses, particularly in oil-producing countries like Nigeria.

Presently, I am studying how the Information Superhighway could help developing countries. The developed countries are moving into the Information Age while some of the developing countries are moving into the Industrial Age.

Information Superhighway is analogous to traffic highways in many respects. With traffic highways, a business woman in Onitsha can use an automobile to travel to Lagos to conduct her business. However, when a fiber-optic line is used to connect Nigerian cities, she can have a face-to-face business transactions with her business partners in Lagos without leaving Onitsha.

To get into the Industrial Age, you need traffic highways and automobiles. Analogously, to get into the Information Age, we need to connect Nigerian cities with fiber-optic lines and then provide millions of computers that can be used to exchange electronic messages and have face-to-face conversations.

More specific ways that I could help the masses will include using my expertise to advise African governments on: (1) how to provide free Internet access to the masses through public libraries and schools; (2) develop computer hardware and software adapted for African countries; (3) promote the concept of tele-nationalized Nigerians who live in Europe and North America but use the Internet to work for the Nigerian government and people.



The Nigerian government will have to sponsor training programs to bring the Information Superhighway to schools, public libraries and businesses. The initial focus in computer and Internet training should be for high school and college students who will be less resistant to using a new technology.

Students will use the Internet to gain access to educational materials; citizens will use it to exchange ideas; and business women and men will use it to promote their commercial ventures.

I will like to advise the West African Examination Council on how to introduce the Internet as a subject in West African School Certificate Examinations. The Internet course should be a compulsory requirement for all high school students.

The Africa ONE (Africa Optical NEtwork) Internet project will encircle Africa with fiber-optic lines with 41 landing points in African countries in addition to Saudi Arabia, Greece, Spain, Portugal and Italy. The latter landing points will be connected to the rest of the world via intercontinental cables. The Nigerian landing point will be at Lagos. Nigerian towns will be connected to Lagos by fiber-optic lines and Nigerian homes, schools and businesses with personal computers can access the Internet by making inexpensive local telephone calls.



Landing points for the Africa ONE Internet Project


The Internet should also be viewed as a very cost-effective national defense weapon. For example, the Internet could be used to shut down enemy computer-operated air-traffic control system which, in turn, will re-route fighter- and bomber-aircrafts to the airports of a neighboring country.

In the future, countries like South Africa would have the technology that will jam Nigerian military aircrafts with incorrect information that will make it practically impossible for Nigerian pilots to fly.

To put it simply, 1,000-man South African army equiped with latest high-tech gears could defeat a 10,000-man poorly-equiped Nigerian army.





Africa ONE Legends


In ten years, computer virus in information warfare will be used by developing countries as their bloodless and low-cost "nuclear weapon." With a few dozen talented computer programmers, Libya or Iraq could force the United States to surrender by crippling its stock exchanges, banks, electric power and air-traffic. Developing countries with no nuclear warheads would use the threat of unleasing computer virus to deter developed countries from launching a nuclear strike at them.


Related articles/websites

Emeagwali's Website

Interviews

His wife

Letters to Emeagwali


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