Fact Sheet: Nigeria: Bridging the Digital Divide and Improving Access to Education
                              THE WHITE HOUSE

                       Office of the Press Secretary
                             (Abuja, Nigeria )
For Immediate Release                                   August 27, 2000

                                FACT SHEET

  Nigeria:  Bridging the Digital Divide and Improving Access to Education

The United States is implementing a series of initiatives to help Nigeria
improve access to education and modern information technologies as part of
an effort to strengthen its economy and democratic institutions.  These
steps follow through on the recent G-8 initiative to expand bilateral,
multilateral, and private sector assistance to developing countries with
effective policies regarding basic education and the digital divide.
President Obasanjo attended an unprecedented meeting in Tokyo between G-8
and developing country leaders on the eve of the Okinawa Summit last month.
He has made improving literacy and access to basic education one of his top
priorities and pledged to increase education resources.  Nearly one third
of men and half of women are illiterate in Nigeria.

U.S. initiatives directly in support of education include:

    A $19.9 million agreement signed by USAID in July 2000 to assist in
   Nigeria's to reform and expand access to education through efforts to
   support education sector assessment for all levels, facilitate policy
   dialogue, and encourage broad civic participation in the reform process.

   The establishment of six Community Resource Centers equipped with modern
   information technology including internet access in each region of
   Nigeria. The centers will help  bring the benefits of modern information
   technologies (IT) into a broad spectrum of educational activities.  The
   U.S. Education for Development and Democracy Initiative (EDDI) is
   providing $4.5 million to establish the centers.  The Centers  will be
   used to train and support local educators, support distance education
   programs of Nigerian universities, provide computer, IT, and targeted
   vocational education training to local communities, and  support adult
   literacy and AIDS education.  The Initiative will also provide $500,000
   in scholarships to girls who would otherwise lack the means to attend
   school at the primary, secondary or university levels.

   A dialogue to explore the creation of a pilot school feeding and
   pre-school nutrition program in Nigeria to support strategies to improve
   student enrollment, attendance, and performance.  The President
   announced a $300 million Commodity Credit Corporation Global Food for
   Education pilot program in Okinawa, Japan last month in connection with
   the G-8's endorsement of the goal of supporting developing countries
   that strive to provide education for all of their children.

   The U.S. Department of State is providing an additional $120,000 to
   support up to 12 "Azikwe Professional Fellowships." These fellowships,
   named after Nigeria's first President, will enable Nigerian
   professionals to pursue up to three months of professional training in
   the U.S. in such fields as educational or public administration,
   business and journalism. The EDDI program is also providing $330,000 to
   two non-profit Nigerian organizations to enhance civic education
   curriculum development.  This is in addition to:  $250,000 to a "Summer
   Institute" for Nigerian educators at an American university in the
   summer of 2001; $299,740  to the University of Iowa and Emporia State
   University in Kansas to support educational development in  Nigerian
   universities; and $75,000 in seed money to launch a series of
   U.S.-Nigeria cultural exchanges through the "Treasures of Nigeria
   Cultural Initiative."

   More broadly, the United States is taking steps to enhance overall
   Nigerian access to information technologies, particularly in the small
   business sector.  Nigeria is joining the United States' Internet for
   Economic Development Initiative whose largely USAID-funded specific
   projects will include:
   -  A three-day workshop on Internet, Telecommunications, and Rural
   -  Support for a planning process to help Nigeria build capacities in
   universities, schools,                and offices to use the Internet
   for research and networking; and
   -  A pilot project on the use of IT in the sound management of

A team of Federal Communications Commission experts, with USAID support,
will visit Nigeria to discuss regulatory issues related to Internet
promotion.   Additionally:
   The Cisco Systems Networking Academy Program and the United Nations
   Development Program will open a regional academy in Nigeria by February
   2001.   The program teaches students, mostly at the secondary and post
   secondary level, the fundamentals of building, designing and maintaining
   computer networks.  The academy will be affiliated with a major Nigerian
   university and develop up to nine local networking academies.   This
   training will help advance Nigeria's economic and social development in
   the Internet economy.

   Following through on the G-8 Summit, the United Nations Development
   Program, the United Nations Foundation, the Markle Foundation, World
   Economic Forum, Center for International Development at Harvard
   University and IBM have launched a new Global Network Readiness and
   Resources Initiative to help developing countries embrace the networked
   society.  As part of this project, they will sponsor a country-specific
   Self-Assessment Readiness Guide for Nigeria.

   FCC and NCC experts will assist Nigeria in the liberalization of its
   telecommunications market.  In particular, these two agencies will work
   to advance pro-competitive policies in Nigeria toward the achievement of
   universal access for its citizens.  A team of FCC experts, with the
   support of the United States Agency for International Development
   (USAID), will visit Nigeria in September 2000 to discuss and share
   experiences on key issues including spectrum management,
   interconnection, tariffing, licensing, especially for wireless
   operators, and the role of the regulator in accelerating network
   expansion and promoting the Internet.

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