By Fred Nwaozor
Today, Tuesday May 17, the global community is celebrating the 2016 World Telecommunication and Information Society Day (WTISD). In November 2006, the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) during its plenipotentiary conference held in Antalya, Turkey, decided to celebrate both the World Telecommunication Day and World Information Society Day collectively on a day instead of celebrating them separately or individually. On that note, they called on the United Nations (UN) General Assembly to declare May 17 of every year as World Telecommunication and Information Society Day.
May 17 was chosen owing to the fact that it marks the anniversary of the signing of the first International Telegraph Convention and the creation of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU). The annual World Telecommunication and Information Society Day is aimed at raising awareness on the possibilities that the use of the Internet and other Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) can yield powerful societies and economies, and also help to bridge the digital divide.
Telecommunication can be defined as the science and activity of sending signals and messages over a long distance, by the use of electronic or electrical equipment such as radio, television, telegraph, telephone, computer, cable, and satellite. The term is often used in its plural form – telecommunications, because it involves many different technologies.
Telecommunication occurs when the exchange of information between two entities includes the use of technology. Communication technology uses channels to transmit information as electrical signals, either over a physical medium such as signal cables, or in the form of electromagnetic waves. Ancient means of communicating over a distance included visual signals namely, beacons, smoke signals, semaphore telegraphs, signal flags and optical heliographs.
A revolution in wireless communication began in the first decade of the 20th century with the pioneering developments in radio communications by Guglielmo Marconi who won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1909. Other highly notable pioneering inventors and developers in the field of electrical and electronic telecommunications include Charles Wheatstone, Samuel Morse, Alexander Graham Bell, Edwin Armstrong, Lee de Forest, John Logie Baird and Philo Farnsworth.
Telecommunication, which is one of the major factors that constitute an information society, has obviously contributed immensely towards nation-building. Indeed, the impact of telecommunications on the social, economic and political development of any country in existence cannot be overemphasized. Telecommunication has helped tremendously in so many areas of human endeavour including information dissemination, easy access to news reportage, education, politics, creation of awareness, advertisement, entertainment, as well as job creation and entrepreneurship development.
The availability of telecommunication has enabled people irrespective of age or status to easily access information even in their bedroom. The recent introduction of the social media, which can be accessed via smart phones, has succeeded in boosting several personal cum business activities which were formerly done on a low pace with the use of the old telecommunication systems such as television, radio, newspaper, et cetera.
The provision of the visual satellite dishes has also helped people from all walks of life to greatly appreciate the use of the television, either domestically or industrially, as a result of its ability to simultaneously access every facet of the globe at all times. To say the least, the transmission or dissemination of visual signals with the aid of the television alongside newspapers has assisted profoundly in marketing of goods and services.
The impact of telecommunication on education has become so enormous that it cannot be expressed on a sheet of paper. Of course, the functionality of the various distant learning programmes situated all over, which are increasing on a daily basis, wouldn’t have been possible without the telecommunication system such as the internet. More so, the series of educative programmes, soap operas, and what have you, being televised by the various television stations across the country can also be included as one of the avenues that have encouraged distant learning.
As regards politics, telecommunication has recently proven to the citizenry that they can as well observe any electoral activity such as voting and counting of election results from their respective homes without stepping out of their premises. The recent Presidential primary election conducted by the All Progressives Congress (APC), which was observed by every Nigerian both home abroad, is a good example of the said practice. Such has helped to improve transparency during elections, thereby avoiding occurrence of various possible electoral malpractices and crises.
It is no longer news that millions of Nigerians are currently employed by several telecommunication companies operating in the country. Statistics show that over fifteen percent (15%) of Nigerian citizens are engaged with various telecom firms. Suffice it to say that the telecommunication industry is one of the major employers of labour in Nigeria, likewise other countries across the globe.
Though telecommunication technologies play a very vital role in the information society and socio-economic development of any nation, it’s noteworthy that several anomalies need to be addressed in the sector in question. A situation whereby uncensored films, pictures or music are disseminated either via the television or the social media is totally unwholesome to the state of any nation, thus ought to be looked into by the relevent authorities such as the Nigerian Communications Communication (NCC) and the Nigerian Broadcasting Commission (NBC).
As the world commemorates the World Telecommunication and Information Society Day, I call on governments at all levels in collaboration with other concerned bodies to put up a stiff measure that would address the various ongoing questionable acts taking place in the sector including propaganda, fraud, and all forms of immorality.
• Nwaozor writes from Owerri