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History of Technology in Nigeria

In this post, we will look at the history of technology in Nigeria. Technology refers to the organization of knowledge for practical purpose. Technology helps make work and life easier and comfortable. It solves problems and overpower challenges in relatively short time.

Nigeria is made up of many different ethnic groups each of which have indigenously developed usable technologies suitable for their environment and way of life. From the riverine and coastal communities to the hinterlands, highland and the fringes of the Sahara desert, people have developed and put into use local technologies suitable for their transportation mode and occupations.

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Nevertheless, it is not uncommon to find that these different peoples share common technologies. For instance the hoes and classes used on farms, the palm wine tapping procedure, the canoe water transportation, the town crier or big drum communication means, locally made guns and bows and arrows for hunting and defence, to mention a few.

Human existence has always been assisted by technology which though crude at the initial stage has transformed into a celebrated phenomenon in the present age. Nigeria has no doubt played a worthy role in the various technological discoveries which largely influenced the global world.

From the way man perceive his environment, his means of survival or livelihood,solving health care issues,information dissemination and retrieval system and how to defend himself reflects the different levels of the scientific and technological approach to solving problems and challenges.

As it is not realistic to encompass the entire history of technology in Nigeria and the present state of its advancement in one single article, we shall break the topic down to its various sub-units that constitutes its basics hoping to do justice to the topic.

Going forward, we cannot but make mention of the body that officially directs technology drive in modern Nigeria; the Federal Ministry of Science and Technology. This crucial body is the strategic ministry of government saddled with the responsibility of facilitating the development and deployment of science, technology and innovation to enhance the pace of socio-economic development of Nigeria.

The Federal Ministry of science and technology was established on the 1st of January, 1980 by act Number 1 of 1980,as the successor organ of government to the National Science and Technology Development Agency(NSTDA), which was created in 1976.By January 1984, the ministry was merged with the Federal Ministry of Education which was then renamed, Federal Ministry of Education, Science and Technology.

In its course of history,the ministry was again scrapped in 1992 and its research institute and parastatals were shared among other Ministries and Agencies such as the Federal Ministries of Industry, Agriculture, Health and National Agency for Science and Engineering Infrastructure(NASENI).

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After scrapping the Ministry in 1992, NASENI was established as an arm of government for the formation and implementation of science and technology policies thus,necessitating the formation of the Science and Technology Unit(STU).

The Federal Ministry of Science and Technology was again re-established on the 26TH of August,1993 and the STU in the presidency became the nucleus of the new Ministry. Consequently, some of its research institutes previously transferred to other Ministries were returned to operate under its purview. The Ministry is said to be currently supervising 17 Research and Development Institutions and interfacing with other cognate bodies to diversify the economy.

The history of technology in Nigeria can be traced through the following purposes and usages that technology is employed for in the country:

History of Blacksmithing Technology in Nigeria:

Blacksmiths are the manufacturers of tools,domestic utensils,agricultural implements,religious artifacts, guns, honoric implements, decorative arts as well as warfare weapons such as swords,bow and arrows,shields etc. They melt and refine metals which they use to manufacture goods in their trade.

Traditional blacksmithing plays a major role in the socio-cultural, economic and religious life of the people of Nigeria. Studies indicate that blacksmithing used to be one of the dominant flourishing art traditions in the communities of Southern Nigeria and other societies around the country in the past.

However due to the negative effect of colonial domination and the illiteracy of the local blacksmiths,little or nothing was known about this unique tradition.

Various factors were found to be responsible for the declining condition of the traditional art of blacksmithing such as modern technological advancement side by side the influx of foreign products of metallic nature,mass movement of rural community members to big cities, lack of government support,and the fading interest of youths in the profession.Despite these conditions, blacksmithing still prevails in most rural communities.

The blacksmith products remain indispensable to the people due to their sociocultural, religious,economic and aesthetic significance to the living tradition of the society and their cultural heritage.

The ill-fated age-long project of the Ajaokuta steel industry,which if successful should have brought about modernization to blacksmithing is another sorry case of Nigeria.

History of Technology in Nigeria Transport System

Walking is the earliest form of movement man ever employed and we still use it till date.However transportation technology has obviously evolved to the point that man can now travel to outer space.

In Nigeria, beasts of burden such as donkeys,horses and camels were and are still used to transport people and goods.Wagons with wheels are also fastened to these animals to increase their capacities.

In the coastal and riverine areas,boats,canoes and oars are built and used for water transportation. Sails are also attached to them to harness wind power for movement.

However the technology of automobiles have advanced transportation thus rendering the aforementioned methods of transportation inferior and less desirable.The drastic changes are evidenced in the bicycles,motorcycles, tricycles, high speed cars, buses, lorries, trucks and trains which help move numerous people and massive goods across destinations.

Many Nigerians make a living operating these machines as drivers,conductors,mechanical engineers and an indigenous vehicle industry, Innosson Motors today operate in the country.

The jetties(speed boats),ferries and modern ships have relegated the canoes on our waterways.
The flying machines,aeroplanes and helicopters,the fastest means of transportation operate today in

Today Nigerians are pilots and sailors as well as technicians that help operate and maintain these machines.
Whether through land,water or air, Nigerians import and export commodities and services enabled by the advancements in transportation technology.

History of Technology in Nigeria Agricultural Sector 

This is a vast area due to the numerous branches of agriculture practiced in Nigeria with the various technologies employed to drive them. As we know,agriculture is majorly divided into crop farming and animal rearing.The focus here is mainly on technology involving crop farming.

As a boy in the secondary school,each time our Agricultural Science master calls for practical sessions,he will say;”Bring your cutlasses and hoes”. Trust me,that statement alone makes one to begin to tire out as if one is already working with those crude tools.

True, the traditional technology for agriculture in Nigeria includes cutlass, hoe and axe for clearing and preparing land for planting and even harvesting. Other harvesters include sickle-cell, go-to-hell and knife. All these tools, though helpful, using them is tedious and cumbersome especially on large farms.
In northern Nigeria where cattle is reared,locally made ploughs are affixed to bulls which are then employed to plough the land.

Improvement in agricultural technology has eased the business of farming.Today tractors are attached to various machines like bush clearers, ploughers, harvesters, planters, fertilizer sprinklers etc,which can be used to clear lands,prepare it for planting, plant, apply fertilizer and harvest ripe fields in a remarkable short time with little human effort.The Bulldozer is used to clear forests for agricultural purposes as well.

There is a machine for peeling cassava for faster job. In poultry farming,there are incubators and hatchery to handle massive amounts of eggs instead of relying on the natural method of hens incubating and hatching eggs.
Universities of Agriculture and Technology have been established in Nigeria to produce experts in these areas.

History of Technology in Drilling For Underground Water

In the past people manually dug wells and drew water using ropes tied to buckets.Well digging was done using crude tools. A pulley system was also designed to draw water from the deep wells.

Even today in Nigeria, getting portable water can be so tasking for a lot of people due to the non-efficiency of the water corporations. Imagine trekking long distances to a stream, river, well or borehole tap to fetch water and bear the load all the way home. Some people also pay water tankers vehicles and human bearers to help bring them water.

Thanks to technology,today privately dug boreholes abound all over the country in households,offices and complexes. In the cruder method,several men manually rotate the driller to get to the water below and the pumping machine is lowered down in place for installation.

However mechanically driven drilling machines have been developed.Pumping machines are also installed in wells to bring up the water directly into pipes running through buildings. All we need do is to open the tap and we have water.

History of Technology in Food Preservation, Processing and Storage

One major problem confronting farmers,food vendors and humans at large is the spoilage of food caused by micro organisms. Nigerians have been traditionally employing certain simple techniques to preserve and store foods.

Food processing often transforms foodstuffs into preservable forms which in turn increases their shelf lives when stored. Traditional techniques employed to preserve food include drying in the sun, smoking on fire, curing (salt application)etc. Today, there are deep freezers and fridges for preserving a wide range of food.Ovens and microwaves also are handful technologies.

Food processing in Nigeria in the past includes the grinding stone for grinding pepper,melon,ginger,corn and other foodstuffs but advanced technology has built the grinding machine which can grind a wide range of food including cassava thus saving much time and energy.

The manual and electric blender are common gadgets in many homes now. Today, food processing is a very large industry in Nigeria. They package tomato paste, baby foods, assorted biscuits, sweets, fruit juice, milk, beverages, cornflakes etc. An industry that relies heavily on food preservation,processing,and storage technology.

History of Information and Communication Technology in Nigeria 

Cultural technologies employed to disseminate information in Nigeria were the town criers,the large drums,talking drums and,whistles and bells used for calling attention or meetings.

With the advent of the radio and television,communication was improved and changed drastically.At a point,the television and radio transistors were the only technology for widespread information dissemination, but the development of computers, smart phones, the internet and social media has changed all that monopoly. Even today we have plasma televisions, flat screens and digitally subscribed multimedia stations.

Technological development created the telephone which the Europeans introduced to us. From my experience in the 1980s as a growing child, one can only make a phone call in phone booths, NIPOST stations,offices or homes with land lines. Today we have mobile phones that have been upgraded into portable computers with internet connections; I.e., smartphones.

Once upon a time in Nigeria,personal computers (PC) were the order of the day and many could only access the internet if their PC is connected to the internet or when they patronise internet cafes. Today the fanciful thing is to own a laptop, tab or smart phone which are effective in communication and surfing the internet.Even the television and radio stations are accessed on these smart gadgets.

No doubt the invention of the microphone and loud speakers are useful in large gatherings and street advertisement.

History of Technology in Nigeria Military Defence

Before Europeans and Arabians imported the technology of guns down here,the various ethnic groups and clans defended themselves with farm implements like class,axes or even large sticks. Some more advanced tribes had blacksmiths who manufactured swords,shields, armoured war vests,and bows and arrows.

Guns were introduced by foreigners and local blacksmiths adopted the technology of making guns.
Having colonised Nigeria,the British formed an army which eventually became the Nigerian Army after the country’s independence.

As we know,the Nigerian Army are in possession of sophisticated weapons employed by the land army,navy and air force.Modern warfare has indeed advanced far above the crude methods employed by our forefathers.
Of recent,the Nigerian Army partnered with Innosson Motors for the later to build war vehicles for military personnel use. Efforts are also being made by the army to build its own weapons in order to reduce reliance on foreign purchase of weapons.

The history of technology in Nigeria is an ongoing phenomenon as various innovations and initiatives here in Nigeria and in diaspora are vigorously and continuously unleashed to further ease our way of doing work and improve globalisation.

On my humble part I only hope this article suffices to at least show some pattern of technology history in Nigeria.

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Awolesi Victor

Awolesi Victor, is a Content Developer at InfoGuideNIgeria.com. InfoGuide Nigeria is a team of Resource Persons and Consultants led by Ifiokobong Ibanga. Page maintained by Ifiokobong Ibanga. If you need a personal assistance on this topic, kindly contact us.

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