Minister Identifies R&D, Evolving Curricula to Solve Industry and service Challenges

The Minister of Science and Technology, Dr Ogbonnaya Onu have identified R&D, an evolving curricula for tertiary institutions and the need to leverage the Nigeria Science, Technology and Innovation ecosystem in restructuring the economy away from Commodity-based to knowledge driven economic development. He addressed the recent World Stage Economic Virtual Summit.

According to him, “The current structure of the economy shows that Nigeria’s economy could be successfully diversified during post COVID-19 with less emphasis on oil. The most instructive new normal is the contribution of crop production at double digit level of 21.97% in 2020Q2 and 22.67 overall 2019, similarly at double-digit contribution at 14.3% in 2020 Q1 from 10.30 overall 2019 contribution in real terms in 2019 GDP. Before the recession in 2016 and the current situation influenced by COVID-19 Pandemic, our economy was heavily dependent on Agriculture, Oil and Distributive trade. This current reality is a clear confirmation of my earlier strategic approach to leverage the Nigeria Science, Technology and Innovation ecosystem in restructuring the economy away from Commodity-based to knowledge driven economic development.”

On the strategy to achieve sustainable economic diversification, the minster explained that “The main thrust of the strategy is to reduce Nigeria’s’ over-dependence on import, especially of items we are well endowed with ample comparative advantage to supply the world. This will save a huge foreign exchange especially in R&D activities which will eventually translate to high quality Made-in-Nigeria raw materials, products and services. Our desire and goal is to ensure establishment of strategic alliance between the knowledge domain (Universities, Polytechnics/Monotechnics and R&D Institutions) and our industries, businesses and the entrepreneurs. These alliances are designed to observe the need to establish a strong and resilient National Quality Infrastructure (NQI) with support from the pillars of Standardization, Conformity Assessment and Metrology. As the regulatory establishments conduct mandatory Conformity assessment with requisite tool boxes, they are compelled to maintain delicate balances between Societal and Business Concerns before issuance of credible certification and Accreditation.”

He added that “The Strategy is designed to ensure that our graduates from tertiary institution are industry and businesses compliant with practical skills of modern and engaging STI demand. Our target is to minimize the issues of legislated or committee developed curricula of tertiary institutions but evolving curricula based on solving contemporary industry and services challenges.”

“With appropriate dosage of STI, research and development would improve the abundant Agro, Mineral and Energy raw materials required by local industries and services to meet the demand for export” he said.

Dr Ogbonnaya enumerated some of the achievements of the Ministry of Science and Technology since the National Strategy was approved for implementation by FEC on Wednesday, 31st May, 2017. According to him, “A functional institutional arrangement have been established to include constitution and inauguration of the National Consultative Committee on Competitiveness (NCCC) with ten (10) Standing Committees. In addition, a Strategy Implementation Task Unit (SITU) is established in the Federal Ministry of Science & Technology (FMST) and a Competitiveness Desk Office in our twenty MDAs.”

“The Competitiveness advocacy programmes have been conducted to include Round Table summits for MDAs of government, Organized Private Sector establishment, the Media and most importantly, for the first time in the history of our country, the workshop for all regulatory establishments in Nigeria. We believe in the role of regulators if Nigeria’s drive towards global competitiveness must be realized.”

“We have taken advantage of the Federal government’s Fiscal policy measure to effectively channel R&D activities towards items with high tariff and those that are now outrightly banned. Federal government Supplementary Protection Measures (SMP) is a wake-up call to the scientific community and organized private sector companies.”

“We have recorded substantial savings arising from reduction in import between 2017 to 2019 respectively. We recorded savings of ₦613.61Billion, ₦412.83Billion, and ₦2.3Trillion”

“We are currently embarking on redirecting R&D projects to industry and service demand-driven undertakings. All R&D institutions, Universities and Polytechnics across the country are advised to take advantage of the new realities and embark on STI enabled R&D projects with commercializable breakthroughs and findings. We would continue to push the frontier of commercialization of R&D breakthroughs in a manner that critical stakeholders earn benefits. Hence, while protecting intellectual property of our Scientists and their institutions, they would earn sufficient benefits from their efforts. Likewise, OPS that takes off R&D breakthrough would be compensated with ample benefits via subsidies and tax holidays.”

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