Charles Nwaoguji,[email protected]
Developing the Nigerian economy and ending mass poverty among the citizens require a massive increase in productive capabilities and production . In some countries, in Asia, these targets are being achieved on a regular basis .Yet ‘pro-poor’ aid policies, especially for the least developed countries, operate largely without reference to policy thinking on the promotion of innovation for productivity growth.
Conversely, policy-makers and researchers on innovation and industrial policies tend to know little about the potential for social protection to support innovation and productivity improvement.
Companies in Nigeria could increase their investment in research and development (R&D) for growth by investing 5.5 percent or more in R&D activities such growth could be in the areas of agriculture, manufacturing, automobile, health and ICT sectors.
A strong knowledge base is key in making sure our companies compete on a global scale. The statistics shows that businesses choose to base their production on research and development activities where they find highly qualified, creative, entrepreneurial people and knowledge. That is why promoting professional and university education in leading scientific fields, notably science, technology, engineering and maths, is crucial to building a competitive, resilient Nigeria.
Research and innovation are the key drivers of productivity and prosperity growth. In an accelerating global innovation race, in which digital technologies and the physical world are merging, business R&D investments play a fundamental role as they determine the innovation capacity of companies, their competiveness, and contribute to creating a sustainable, inclusive and prosperous Nigeria.
To ensure that its research institute ranks among the leading conglomerates in the world, while boosting food security and sound industrial growth in the country, the Federal Institute of Industrial Research, Oshodi (FIIRO), has concluded plans to commercialise its research works that have been lying on the shelves for many years.
The latest of such initiatives was unveiled by the newly appointed Acting Director General/CEO, Dr. Chima C. Igwe, during an exclusive chart with Daily Sun in Lagos recently.
Specifically, he said his organisation was partnering with original equipment manufacturers in China and India to complement the activities of its PPD Department to source machinery and equipment for its clients.
Already, the Ag DG said the institute was working to set-up small and medium scale industries to help the local manufacturing sector to source raw materials and is, subsequently, moving in to provide more empowerment and a healthier environment for operators.
Igwe explained that research has revealed that most of the local industries hardly get raw materials for their production and, more so, due to the lack of fund, they are not able to import the right raw materials to meet their needs. He said “ but with our factory established here in Nigeria getting the right raw materials there wouldn’t be any problem for the local manufacturers anymore.
The FIIRO boss stressed that the desire to support the Federal Government’s food security and sustainability initiative informed the decision of the organisation to consider the option of going into encouraging the manufacturing sector of the economy.
“We have so much commercialisable products in FIIRO, which I will turn into wealth creation for the nation. All we need to do is to properly package them and offer them to entrepreneurs as a complete package, including nutritional/chemical analysis details, machinery and equipment and feasibility reports for the projects/products. We shall partner with equipment manufacturers in China and India to complement the activities of our PPD Department to source machinery and equipment for our clients. “
According to the former vice Chancellor of Bell University, Professor Ademola Adeyemi, research evidences have shown that research institutes with their own incubation centres have done pretty well in commercialisation of their R & D results in Nigeria. There is the need for research institutes in the country establish Technology Incubation Centres, and work more closely with National Board for Technology Incubation (NBTI) and the National Office for Technology Acquisition and Patenting (NOTAP). They should work closely with the state governments through the instrument of National Council for Science and Technology (NCST) to fast-tract their efforts, and for rapid technology transfer.
The basic challenges being faced by research institutes in the country today is inadequate funding of R & D projects.
According to Adeyemi, research institutes are not properly funded by government and, because of that, most of our facilities are obsolete.
“We need replacements of these equipment and we need training and retraining. The Staff needs to be retrained on the latest technology in the world, so as to move the institute forward. There are other few challenges but funding is the major problem we have. Well, if we have the fund every other thing will follow. Infrastructure are very serious issues affecting the development of R & D in Nigeria, most of them are old and they are not working.” To address the problem of funding, he urged the Federal Government to increase budgetary allocation for R & D to two per cent of the nation’s GDP, in line with the Lagos Action Plan.
On how to generate funding for the institute, the acting DG of FIIRO said government need increase the budgetary allocation, we are hoping that there will be establishment of an Endowment Fund for R & D with statutory contributions from companies operating in Nigeria, and some other stakeholders. If the recent STI Policy, which the Ministry of Science and Technology worked on recently, is to be passed into law, I think it would go a long way to increase the allocation of S & T from the government at one point…it would also help to generate fund to support R & D.
He said many industries could partner with research institutes in establishing research centres . So, we are expecting good co-operation from them.
We will seek external funding from the Bank of Industry (BoI) for instance, which was actually established at the same time with FIIRO. FIIRO, as well as the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN). You cannot believe that these banks are doing well, but FIIRO is till where they left it. We hope to exploit that opportunity to get them to fund the industrial research. We will meet the European Union, UNDP, the World Bank and others to see if we can raise fund for the institute.
We are going into full training programme for women in Small and Medium Entrepreneur. We have the technology the SME can pick up and developed.