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Communication and its Problems in Developing Countries

Communication and its Problems in Developing Countries: A Case Study of Nigeria



Communication evolved as a result of the persistent natural human love to promote unity and express feelings, from this arise the traditional definition of communication as a process or art of transmitting information, ideas and attitudes from a source to a destination, it is an unavoidable institution in every society. This research work on “communication and its problems in developing countries, Nigeria as a case study” will look into the pertinent of communication in Nigeria. A further insight into the study will reveal the problems associated with this communication system in Nigeria as it affects all other developing countries of the world. The study will use survey research method to sample the opinions of significant number for communicators on the relevance of communication flow and its problems in Nigeria. Chapter one will treat the background of the study, objectives and significance of the study, as well as research question, research hypothesis and limitations of the study. Chapter two, will look into literature review. In chapter three, the research methodology will be stated, also measuring instrument. Chapter four will show data analysis and presentation, while chapter five will be summary of findings, conclusion and recommendation on relevance of communication in development and economic promotion, as well as how to alleviate the problems facing communication in developing countries for effective and balance flow of communication system in Nigeria.



1.1            Background to the Study

Communication as we know it today has developed over a number of centuries. The sophistication and complexity which characterize human communication in the modern world are the result of very long and sustained efforts by human beings to improve on one of the most fundamental aspects of their existence.

Referring to this evolution, the MacBride commission was set up by UNESCO to study all communication problems throughout the world. This was known as the international commission for the study of communication problems, it began its work in December 1977. The Commission’s Interim Report was submitted UNESCO’s General Conference in 1978, and its Final Report was published by UNESCO in 1980 as the book “Many voices, one world”.

As the world has advanced, the task of communication has become even more complex….. in explaining this complexity, MacBride and his colleagues (MacBride 1981, P3) have this to stay:

Throughout history human beings have

Sought to improve their ability to

Receive and assimilate information

About their surroundings and at the

Same time to increase the speed,

Clarity and variety of their methods

For transmission of information.

In addition to being very complex, communication is also very old. In fact, communication is as old as humanity. The first human beings to inhabit the earth lived in caves, they looked and behaved more like apes. Even during those pre-historic times, some from of communication existed.

Before the development of language, this communication was mostly through touch (tactile communication) and vocal signals. It has been speculated that simple incoherent vocal sounds must have been the earliest mode of human communication.

According to Pokharapurkar (1993, p16) “Man must have attempted to communicate for the first time ever through simplest incoherent sound expressing feelings like fear, pain, satisfaction, anger, joy etc.”

This view of the beginning of communication is supported by MacBride and his associates in their discussion of the development of human communication (MacBride et al. 1981, p3):

Starting with the simplest vocal and

Gestural signals rooted in their physical

Structure, human beings developed a

Whole range of non-verbal means for

Conveying messages: music and dance,

Drum messages, signal fires, drawings

And other forms of graphic symbols,

Including the pictogram………

In conjunction with the above discussion, it reveals that communication has passed through series of revolution till today’s modern communication.

Further, communication is a life wire of every country and a veritable instrument of development. But in Nigeria, communication system has been facing numerous challenges when compared to western countries.

In Nigeria, the issue of cultural trait, economic condition and political philosopher set back communication system as a result of which our communication system has remained a child of misfortune.

Moreover, our country woefully depend on western nations (developed nations) for qualified media personal and advance media technology (quality media gadget) which they use to force their information down to our throat creating news imbalance and more problems to the communication system in our country. These means that the western are still colonizing the third world countries through media communication.

Although, most developing countries have been sovereign entities for over many years now, but it can be submitted that they are still under the shackles and fetters of Neocolonialism and Nigeria’s media are supportive rather than antagonistic of neocolonialism. Indeed, the media foster Neocolonialism through training, advertising, News, media technologies etc. to which we will now turn. The legacy bequeathed by former colonial masters in our country, except in a few instances is still intact through our media. Media training to a large extent is a colonial legacy so far the grooming of media professionals has taken three forms, the attachment of experts from the industrialized countries to media stations in Nigeria, courses and attachments in industrialized states offered to media practitioners in Nigeria and courses taken at media centres in the region.

In fact the pioneer technicians and broadcasters in Nigeria were trained either by experts from reputed media establishments like the British Broadcasting corporation or Radio France International.

Besides, the dominance of western trained teachers, there is almost a total absence of any impact of African thought of philosophy in communication education.

The use of communication technologies in Nigeria thus ensures the broad penetration of neocolonial ideology and the whole western culture because it is process acting on all areas of the various states of life. The transfer of technology is a form of alliance because it transfers social information. This social information influence people in the receiver country, changes its manner of operation in production, organization and consumption.

The motivation to embark on this great research work is to understand communication in detail as it concerns our developing country (Nigeria) as well as to improve the quality and balance communication system in Nigeria. Notwithstanding to gain a knowledge on how to enhance development and economic situation of the country, because “He who controls the information network influences the economy and development”.

This research project will also provide the knowledge of what can be done to ameliorate the situation, if not outright solution to the aforementioned problems of communication that bedevil our young but promising third world communication order.

1.2            Statement of the Research Problem

Communication is synonymous with understanding, when communication does not end with proper decoding, it means that understanding has been lost, understanding can be impaired by a number of factors, prominent among them is noise.

Noise is any factor in the communication process that does not enhance the proper understanding of the encoded message. Noise is one of the most difficult problems that effect, both print and broadcast media. In broadcast media it comes in form of hooting noise, poor grammatical expressions etc. while in the print, anything that tends to derail the reader’s mind from the proper understanding of the encoded message is noise. Noise could be inform of wrong spellings, wrong usage of words as well as wrong punctuation. In interpersonal communication, noise could come in the form of shabby dressing of the communicator or bad make-up. When the encoded message is distorted as a result of noise, understanding will be adversely effected, the essential of such communication will therefore be defeated.

Another major problem that faces communication in developing countries is problem of trained personnel. Trained personnel are those trained and qualified media technicians who can make these complex media system work effectively. A medium cannot function satisfactorily without a technical staff to operate the equipment, a production staff to create content and a management staff to handle the day to day operations of the system.

Another major problem that besieged communication in the under developed countries like Nigeria is lack of modern communication gadgets/equipment. Reginald Okochi, the press secretary to the Enugu State Government, in his address to the 1999 Association of Mass Communication students (ASMACS) IMT chapter lamented his woes, when he was covering the presidency as a radio Nigeria reporter. He narrated the pains and frustrations they suffered when their counterparts in overseas aided by their very sophisticated gadget were able to punch their news to their studios even from their presidential dateline, while he and his colleagues waited to fax their news at the nearest business centre. What a frustration?” when one listens to telephone interview over the voice of America he will be forced to wonder what is wrong with our local media houses whose interviews and remote productions generally are riddled with noise and distortions. Our telecommunication system station transmitters and even our studio equipment and so problem ridden that they frustrate the efforts of our head working communicators.

Underdevelopment is indication of the poor state of economy of the country involved. It is another way of saying that a country is poor. Poverty is one of the greater set backs on the third world communication system. Almost all our media, both government and privately owned ones are suffering from the problems posed by obsolete.

Another major problem which affects communication system in Nigeria is the problem posed by the government and the law. The relationship between the press and the government has been described by many known communication scholars as “an adversary relationship” the type of relationship that exist between the cat and rat. A major problem exists between the two parties in the area of media control of communication.

Furthermore, the problem of illiteracy among Nigerians. The high illiteracy rate which characterizes the populations of third world countries, about twenty years ago, research  evidence showed that “Almost one billion illiterates are estimated to be living in the world today, 98% of them in the third world” (Bhola 1990, p3). This situation has not changed very much especially in developing countries. These illiterate people are mostly women who live in rural areas.

Poverty is another formidable problem to communication in Nigeria. In most developing countries, the cost of daily newspaper, magazine, television etc. is beyond the reach of the majority of populations, particularly in rural areas. Take the case of Nigeria where over 50% of the total population is officially poor, most cannot buy weekly radio battery for their radio set.

Notwithstanding, poor infrastructural facilities is another problem of communication in Nigeria. These infrastructural facilities include lack of accessible roads and transport system to circulate information such as newspapers and magazines etc.

Lack of steady power supply to work in different media houses such as printing of newspapers, magazines, books and every broadcast station need 24 hours power supply to function well but in Nigeria power interruption stands as a barrier and lack of other social amenities that could help to boost communication system in Nigeria.

1.3            Objectives of the Study

This study aims at identifying the following objectives:

1.     To assess the challenges of communication in developing countries.

2.     To provide solution to the challenges facing communication in Nigeria

3.     To identify the possible roles of communication in developing countries especially Nigeria

4.     To highlight how effective these roles are towards development of the developing countries.

5.     To review the communication methods in Nigeria and find out the most appropriate for better development of its nature and status.

6.     To suggest appropriate guide and techniques to improve good communication skills in Nigeria for better development.

7.     The last objective is to use Nigeria as a case study because it is a typical example of a developing country. With the result I get from Nigeria, I can then generalize it to other countries of the third world to enhance development, economic status and effective communication system.

1.4            Significance of the Study

This research study has numerous significances to mass communication students, media houses, communication practitioners already in the field and our dear country Nigeria as well as other developing countries.

To mass communication students, the usefulness of this research study can be seen in very many ways, it will help them to understand communication in detail, it problems and how to proffer solutions to the problems. This work can be kept in library for reference purpose, they will have access to read, comment and criticize it. Also this study will widen their knowledge and improve their level of understanding about communication in Nigeria.

To media houses and communication practitioners, this research work will help them to understand the challenges facing communication and give them insight on how to overcome those challenges and achieve effective and efficient communication in the country. It will improve their skills; expose them to know their past mistakes.

To Nigeria and other developing countries, this research work will help them to understand their past mistakes and help them to use effective communication system to achieve national development and enhance economic situation in the country. Also it will ginger our country up to be independent both on media and economically.

This work will help media proprietors, whose livelihood is seriously confronted by these numerous problems. For those who are not in mass communication but make use of communication in solving their daily problems, I hope that this work will be very useful to them in improving understanding, and efficiency.

1.5            Research Question

1.     Does communication system encounter any problem while performing their duties in Nigeria?

2.     Does ineffective communication in a country hinder development

3.     Does freedom of press exist in Nigeria?

4.     Does information imbalances and inequalities from western world to Nigeria effect communication system in Nigeria?

5.     Does high rate of illiteracy in Nigeria hinder communication process?

6.     Does high level of poverty in Nigeria affect communication system in the country?

7.     Which technique of communication do you think is appropriate in Nigeria?

1.6            Research Hypothesis

H1     Communication process in Nigeria is hindered with so many challenges

H0   Communication process in Nigeria is not hindered with so many challenges

H2     Effective communication helps in development of a country

H0     Effective communication does not help in development of a country

H3     Nigeria depends on developed countries for advanced technology and trained personnel

H0     Nigeria does not depend on developed countries for advanced technology and trained personnel.

1.7            Scope of the Study

The study covers communication and its problems in developing countries using Nigeria as the reference point.


1.8            Limitation of the Study

This research topic “communication and its problems in developing countries, Nigeria as a case study” is expected to get findings from most of the third world countries which are referred to as developing countries by the western allies. It is expected to elicit data more from Nigeria as a whole, which is the case study, but due to cost, time and physical incapability among other reasons the researcher will not cover this area in view of this, they will select some media set ups, media practitioners and interested observer around our vicinity (Ebonyi metropolis to represent the entire nation). This will be the limit of this research work.

1.9            Assumption of the Study

Communication is prevalent among every society while discharging their daily life activities, as an instantaneous way of sharing ideas, information or feelings from one person to the other.

The researcher assumes that effective communication can be use to achieve adequate information, education, entertainment etc within our society.

It is also assume that there are numerous challenges facing communication system in developing countries.

The researcher also assumes that problems facing communication in developing countries can hinder its development and economic status.

Finally, it is also assume that providing appropriate solution to the communication problems in developing countries can enhance development and economic status of the country. Moreover, it is also assume that it can improve efficient and effective communication process in the society.


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