Sola Aderounmu, the Director, World Bank Sponsored Africa Centre Centref in ICT-Driven Knowledge Park and immediate past Dean, Faculty of Technology Obafemi Awolowo University,IleIfe has said that, there can be no digital economy without research.
According to him, innovations are what drive the digital economy, but innovations are themselves fuelled by research. “In metaphorical denotations, innovation is the oxygen of the digital economy while research is the lifeblood of innovation. So, as nations and governments strive to build or grow their own digital economies, they must pay priority attention and provide massive funding to Research & Development activities and projects in the academia and tech industry.”
He explained that Tertiary Education Trust Fund(TETFund) is currently playing key role in funding research in Higher Institutions of Learning in Nigeria, and establishment of Centres of Excellence of which University of Ibadan is a beneficiary. “More innovation hubs and technology parks must be established and well-funded to expand research capabilities. And there is a critical need for deepening the strategic partnership between the academia and entrepreneurial industry, so as to ensure that research efforts yield rewarding outcomes that benefit society and advance the digital economy”, he said.
Aderounmu said digital economy is also defining global competitiveness. In his words, “Today, some countries of the world are leaping far and fast ahead of others in transforming into digital economies. As rated in a 2020 Harvard Business Review report on economies showing the most digital progress, the fastest growing digital economies in the world include South Korea, Singapore, United States, China, Estonia, Taiwan, and the United Arab Emirates. Other countries are also trying to advance their digital capabilities due to the disruptive pressures of the current COVID-19 pandemic that has afflicted the global economy with contraction and recession. It is projected that the race to greater digitalisation of world economies will get more frenetic, with the second wave of the pandemic forcing most nations to intensify ecommerce, virtual schooling and remote work as they re-impose national lockdowns and closures of businesses and institutions of learning.”
Universally, due to its acclaimed significance for socio-economic development, research commands great attention among smart nations.