Communication is the process of exchanging or transmission of meaningful information, feelings, opinions and ideas from one person to another or from one place to another. It is a two-way process which involves sending and receiving of messages.
Communication has played an important role in commerce by enhancing all forms of business activities. Communication is a vital aspect of commerce because it is the means by which buyers and sellers are able to get in contact to transact business. The development of telecommunication systems has also eased and hastened contact between people in commercial centres.
DEVELOPMENT AND MEANS OF COMMUNICATION IN NIGERIA
In Nigeria, the earliest means of communication is the human voice. Communication then was based on the level of development at the time. Many other means of sending and receiving messages have been developed over the years.
Traditional Media of Communication
- Wooden/Talking Drums: Wooden drums are used to pass messages to people within the community. The beating of the drum will produce different sounds for different messages. The head of the community can use it to assemble his people in a place. Drums are made of wood and animal skin.
- Town Criers: Messages can be transmitted through town criers. These are people that pass information from one place to another on foot or horse back. They use different instruments to draw people’s attention.
- Metal Gong: This is a hollow metal beaten with another metal to make announcement to members of a traditional community. On hearing the sound, people will gather at the village square to hear or discuss the latest development in the community.
- Palm Frond: This is a means of communication which signifies peace during a period of chaos.
- Smoke Signal: By setting bushes on fire, the smoke can be used as a means of communication. Whoever sees the smoke signal will know that something is happening.
- Gun Blast: Gun shots are used to mark or signify traditional festivals and burials in some African communities. Hunters also used gun shots for communication purpose s during hunting expedition.
Others are whistles, bells, trumpets and flutes.
FORMS OF COMMUNICATION
- Oral Communication: This is a form of communication in which people exchange information through spoken words in different languages. This can be through face-to-face, physical contact etc. People communicate by speaking languages understood by them.
- Written Communication: This is a means of communication through the exchange of written documents. Messages are transmitted through mails, telex, telegram etc. This form of communication makes it possible to keep permanent records.
COMMUNICATION NETWORK OR ELEMENTS IN NIGERIA
The major communication networks or elements in Nigeria are:
- Telecommunication: This involves the use of telephone services, cellular phones, voice mails etc.
- Postal services.
- Courier services.
Telecommunication is the technology used in sending signals, images and messages over long distance by telephone and satellite. Some of the Telecommunication system includes the use of telephone services, cellular phones, voice mails etc. This involves the use of telephone services, cellular phones, voice mails etc.
The Nigerian Telecommunication Limited (NITEL)
The Nigerian Telecommunication Limited was established to provide the following services, telephone, telex, telegram and satellite. As a result of the privatization policy of the government, NITEL has been sold to Transcorp PLC.
- Telephone Services: This service enables businessmen and others to send verbal messages across to their customers and relations instantly wherever they may be in the whole world. The various forms of telephone services are:
- Private Business Exchange (PBE): This facility is provided for big organizations like hospitals, universities or companies with many telephone extensions. A switchboard to be manned by an operator will be installed to enable communication to be made to people within and outside the organizations.
- Subscriber Trunk Dialing (STD): This is trunk call, which is automatically connected to the meter of a subscriber. A switchboard operator is not needed.
- Private Telephone Lines: Individuals can apply for private telephone lines and they will be linked up directly through the use of telephone boxes.
- Telephone Directories: This document contains the names, numbers and addresses of all subscribers.
- International Subscribers Dialing: This provides facilities for international telephone services among people in different countries of the world.
- Radiophone: This is a mobile radiotelephone service, which is used in vehicles, and it has limit as to areas where it can be used. It is limited to certain areas.
- Public Telephone Booth: The firm will erect phone booths at different locations and users can make calls by slotting in cards or cash.
- Telegram Services: These are messages sent by telegraph and then printed and given to somebody. It enables written message to be sent quickly from one place to another. It is more costly than the normal telephone service.
- Telex Services: This is a service which enables users to transmit and receive printed messages over telecom line. It makes use of teleprinters to send messages from one subscriber to another at any time of the day or night even after an office has closed. Users must be telex subscribers with their own equipment and code.
- Fax Services: This involves the transmission of data of exact duplicate copies of the documents. The original document is fed into the fax machine, which reads it and converts it into electronic form so that it can be transmitted over the telecommunication line. The recipient can print the message using fax machine.
- Global System for Mobile-communication: The telecommunication industry provides mobile telecommunication services and such companies providing G.S.M services are M.T.N, Globacom, 9Mobile, Airtel and Visa phone. Mobile services include the following:
- Message services such as short message service and voice mail.
- Call hanging services such as conference call and call diverts.
- Corporate services such as integrated numbering so that people can have a single contact number for both the phone on their desks and their mobile handsets.
Nigerian Communication Commission (NCC) provides satellite for live transmission of events.
- Nigerian Postal Services (NIPOST): The Nigerian Postal Services (NIPOST) is an extra-ministerial department under the Ministry of Communication. The first post office in Nigeria was established in 1856 in Lagos. It was charged with the responsibility of ensuring proper handling of mails. Now, post offices are located in all major towns and cities in Nigeria. NIPOST renders both postal and payment services to the public.
- Ordinary Letters: Ordinary letter mails are distributed by the post office to its numerous customers. Ordinary mails include the first class and second class mails. Before a letter can be delivered, stamps must be affixed on it. Letters may be official or personal and can be sent by air, land or sea.
- Parcel Post: Parcel post service ensures that parcels are handed to post office for onward transmission from the person (sender) to another. They are weighed in order to determine the appropriate charges. Parcel post involves heavy documents which cannot be posted.
- Registered Letters: This service provided by the post office ensures that letters are registered after making payments in order to safeguard them. This attracts higher charges than ordinary letters and for the registration, receipt is issued. Registered letters have lines drawn at the back horizontally and vertically across the envelope. The person to whom it is sent will be given notification slip that will enable him claim the letter, and compensation will be paid if it is lost.
- Express Letter: Express letters are sent and delivered to their destination quickly and urgently. Any mail with express written on it must be given priority, to ensure quicker delivery than the one sent ordinarily. An express letter attracts higher charges and is delivered by the next available transport.
- Private Boxes and Bags: These services are rendered to people by renting out a box or bag at the post office to the people. Letters belonging to owners of these boxes and bags are sorted out and kept in the box or bag. The users of the boxes or bags are given keys to unlock their boxes or bags to collect mails anytime. Those using private mail bags are provided with bags each for which their letters are kept inside, well padlocked and the key given to the customer. Charges are paid annually to the post office by the users of post office boxes or private mail bags.
- Business Reply Services: This is a service provided by the post office to enable firms wishing to obtain replies from clients without putting the customers at the expense of paying postage fees. The firm would have supplied their self-addressed envelopes or cards which will be used for reply. The firm acquires a license after paying an annual fee to cover the cost of postage which is based on the number of replies received.
- Licensing of Franking Machine: This service is possible when a company with large customers receive franking machine under license from the post office in order to stamp or frank its own mail with postage impression. The machine will automatically record the number of franked mails in its metre. This saves time and the energy that would be expended when using stamp for many mails. The firm pays advance charges to the post office.
- Poste Restante: The post office provides this service to travelers or tourists that are visiting another town. They will enter into agreement with the post office so that their mails will be addressed to the post office. The mail must be marked, “Poste Restante”. The individual involved must provide evidence of his identity when calling to receive his mail from the post office.
- Recorded Delivery: This is a service provided by the post office to enable the person sending to have a proof of delivery. There is no preferential treatment over mail in transit. It is good for important documents as certificate of posting will be sent to the sender while charges are paid.
- Postal Order: This is a means of payment provided by the post office to transfer small sums of money by post to ensure payment or to settle debts. Postal orders are valid for six months and commission called poundage is paid to the post office. Postal orders are in various denominations and are not negotiable.
- Money Order: This service ensures that large amount of money is sent through the post office. Money order is safer than postal order. It is an order made by one post office to another specified post office for payment of a specified sum of money on demand to a named person.
- Cash on Delivery Services: This is a service provided by the post office which ensures that businessmen can collect money on the delivery of parcel. It is good for mail order business; the post office will collect money on delivery and remit to the supplier.
- Sales of Stamps: NIPOST sells postage stamps of different denominations to their customers.
- Settlement of Payment: It is also used occasionally to settle small amount of payments by post for items such as catalogue.
- Mass Media: Mass media involve the transmission of messages through special media of communication to the public. The method is used to create awareness and interest in the new ideas or techniques among the majority of the people. Mass media include the use of radio, television, newspapers, film shows, pamphlets, banners, handbills, posters, hand-outs, etc.
Types of Mass Media
There are two major types or group of mass media. These are electronic media and print media.
- Electronic Media: This involves the use of electronics like radio, television, film show, etc. to transmit information to the people. Through the electronic media, many people can easily be reached if only they have the means.
- Print Media: This involves the use of media like newspapers, banners, handbills, newsletters, hand-outs, pamphlets, posters, etc. to disseminate information to the people. Just like the electronic media, information can get to many people but illiteracy, combined with poverty would prevent many people from getting the desired information. Mass media (electronic and print) have the same advantages and disadvantages.
Advantages of Mass Media
- They can reach out to a large audience, provided it is within their means.
- They may not require the presence of the operators.
- The information can easily reach the audience at a fixed date and time e.g. either on radio or television.
- Time wasting and stress involved in going round the audience are eliminated.
- The information, especially the print media, last long.
- The printed information can be posted or received by mail.
- Pictures (in electronic) can easily be served as demonstration aids.
- It is useful in information dissemination to the deaf but literate audience.
Disadvantages of Mass Media
- They are very expensive to operate e.g. talks on radio or television.
- Media like newspaper and magazine are only useful to the educated audience, the illiterate audience can never benefit.
- They are only available to the audience who are wealthy enough to own television and radio sets.
- The audience may find it difficult to ask questions on matters which they do not understand.
- Internet: Internet is a global network of computers and communication devices. It is also a public network that connects several computers, communication devices and smaller networks into a global network. It can also be referred to as the convergence of computer system worldwide with the assistance of telecommunication link, which allows any computer with the telecommunication link to exchange information with any suitably equipped computer.
- WWW: This is referred to as World Wide Web. It is a system with universally accepted standard for storing, retrieving and displaying information using client architecture. It is a system of transmitting hypertext over the internet.
- Website: This is a location on the internet where individual or organizational information can be accessed or reached.
- E-mail: This is used to describe various system of sending data or messages electronically through telecommunication. It has become the primary means of communication for many organization and individuals. Benefits of e-mail include; speed, efficiency, economy and security.
- Chatting: This allows people who are simultaneously connected to the internet to hold live interactive written conversations.
- Video Conferencing: It is the use of computer and communication technology to conduct meeting in which several participants perhaps in different parts of the world are linked up. It is possible through the use of computer and video system.
- Video Conferencing Bulletin Board: Here, there is a huge central mailbox on the system where all persons connected to the system can deposit their message for everyone to see and in turn read what other people have left in the system.
- Electronic Fund Transfer: It describes a system whereby a computer user can use his computer system to transfer funds e.g. make payment to a supplier.
Benefits of Internet to Organization
- Reducing Communication: Employing the internet is more cost effective for any organization than incurring expenditure on telephone and fax.
- Accelerating the Distribution and Marketing of Products: It has made it easier and less expensive for companies to co-ordinate small staff when opening markets.
- Enhances Communication: Individuals and organizations are using e-mail and access to database to gain easy access to information resources.
- Facilitates Commercial Activities: Electronic commerce provides virtual place where buyers and sellers are connected using internet.
- Facilitates Banking Services: Electronic banking uses computer and electronic technology as substitutes for cheques and other paper transactions e.g. Automated Teller Machine.
- Improves Governance through E-government: Provides comprehensive information about government laws, regulations and policies.
Problems of Internet
- There is the problem of inadequate security.
- There is no formal organization.
- No special and clear guidelines on how the rules of internet should be established and developed.
- Satellite: A satellite is communication equipment which is deployed and stationed in the space to send signals to different countries of the world. Satellites are systems of global transmission of signals from one place to another. With the satellite, it is now possible for live telecast of an event in Lagos to be watched in America e.g. an international football match. Satellite enhances the work of NCC as all nations are linked together through satellite.
Functions of Satellite
- Satellite provides telephone and television links among nations of the world.
- It ensures international or global transmission of messages.
- It ensures that live events are covered and watched simultaneously all over the world.
- Video conferencing meetings are made possible by satellite television transmission.
- Courier Services: Courier services are duties rendered by privately owned courier companies to provide reliable and efficient means of conveying urgent documents within and between cities and towns. Their services include fast and reliable delivery of letters, documents and parcels. Companies providing courier services in Nigeria include DHL, UPS, Fedex, IAS, etc.
Functions of Courier Companies
- Courier companies provide reliable and efficient means of sending urgent documents at greater speed.
- Important documents are delivered safely without getting lost in transit.
- Personal and cordial relationship exists between them and their customers.
- Courier companies help to carry bulky loads over short or long distances.
- Some courier companies undertake the shipment of export and import goods.
- They provide business reply services to customers.
- Courier companies provide proof of delivery by keeping proper records of every transaction.
- Banking transactions are facilitated by courier services, and this has greatly reduced time taken in interbank transactions.
- They render services to both urban and rural areas.
- Courier companies provide door-to-door delivery services to its customers.
Importance of Communication on Human Activities
- Communication promotes commercial activities as the whole world is connected together as a global village.
- The use of telecommunication has enhanced the settlement of debts through telegraphic money transfer, e.g. Western Union Money Transfer.
- Communication helps in creating awareness for goods and services in order to induce customers to buy.
- Through communication, the cost and risks involved in travelling long distances for business transactions can be greatly reduced.
- It provides and facilitates good and efficient means of maintaining close contact between businessmen.
- Foreign trade transactions can be facilitated through modern means of communication as various markets are linked together.
- The use of postal system has greatly enhanced mail order business.
- Information about the economic and commercial policies of a government is transmitted through communication to the businessmen.
- Transportation by air and sea are made possible by communication. The use of radio, telegram and other means has made contact between a ship off shore and the port possible.
- Documents and Parcels are easily, quickly and safely moved from one place to another.
Problems of Communication in Nigeria
- There is inadequate infrastructure like electricity to service the various communication elements.
- There is the problem of inadequate personnel or experts to ensure adequate delivery of quality services.
- Majority of the communication networks render poor services to the people e.g. the GSM.
- Poor traffic prediction can result in poor channel allocation. This naturally has the potential of causing congestion and its attendant call failure or call drop.
- There is high rate of tariff paid by subscribers.
- The body charged with the regulation of telecommunication such as the Nigerian Communication Commission (N.C.C) is not efficient to control the activities of service providers.
- Call failure is a prominent feature of the relatively new Nigerian GSM mobile telephone system and has become a nuisance to the system.
- Telecommunication equipment is usually vandalized by criminals.
Solutions of Communication Problems in Nigeria
- Adequate infrastructure such as electricity should be provided by the government.
- Adequate training should be given to telecommunication personnel to enable them render adequate services.
- Expatriates from foreign countries should be engaged in order to render quality services to the people.
- The right equipment and personnel should be employed to ensure quality network delivery.
- Effort should be made by the government and regulatory agency in ensuring the provision of low tariff to consumers.
- The regulatory agency such as the NCC should ensure that the GSM providers are effectively and efficiently monitor to enable them provide quality services to subscribers.
- Service providers should ensure that their equipment is in perfect working conditions to prevent call failure.
- The provisions of security services in areas where this equipment are installed do prevent vandalization of this equipment by criminals.