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Nigeria’s future competitiveness relies on technological progress

Technological

Nigeria’s future competitiveness relies on technological progress

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It goes without saying that technology is the only language the whole world understands today. Indeed, technology is the most important economic factor

Growth and industrial expansion. Without technology, no nation can exist without growing. It is technology that is transforming nations from the Third World to the First World.

Technology is the oil that has transformed Asian nations from impoverished, disease-infested ghettos into centers of economic power and military bastions of influence.

The much discussed diversification of the Nigerian economy through agriculture can only be possible through science, technology and innovation. We cannot talk about diversifying or transforming agriculture without making a tremendous transition from hoe and cutlass to technology-driven agriculture as practiced in Israel and other advanced nations.

Building to upgrade natural resources is the way to sustainable growth and development. This can only be done by investing in science and technology through education. In a world economy driven by science, technology and innovation, Nigeria cannot afford to remain behind any longer.

The reality is that Nigeria can never be a technological powerhouse in Africa and the world if it does not address its infrastructure challenges, particularly in the electrical energy field. This was confirmed at the 70th birthday lecture and the book presentation of the retired chairman of DAAR Communications Plc, Chief Dr. Raymond Dokpesi, made clear in Abuja.

Dr. Dokpesi is a ship engineer himself and has a doctorate in engineering! At the event, high-ranking Nigerians, including former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, Prof. Pat Utomi and Dr. Ernest Ndukwe, urged the federal government to boost technology by fighting the decline in the energy sector. Without a solution to the power crisis, Nigeria will continue to be pushed into the background in a technology-driven world.

The topic of the lecture was: “Technology: A Missing Link in Nigeria’s Development”. Speakers at the event expressed their grief that the federal government’s disgust for technology has cost the country trillions of dollars in foreign investment.

According to Ernest Ndukwe, chairman of MTN Nigeria, the world is currently experiencing massive changes in various sectors completely driven by new technologies, stressing that inadequate technological infrastructure has been the bane of Nigeria’s development. He pointed out that it is the nations that are leaders in developing new technologies that become world leaders.

Likewise, Prof. Pat Utomi said that Nigeria’s technological backwardness has become an existential threat to the nation.

“Government policy has not allowed technology in our country to advance as it should. We need policymakers who are savvy enough to understand where things are going. There is no area of ​​our endeavor where we do not need technology if we are to go far. One of the biggest setbacks in the country is power.

“It is a tragedy and a shame for our country that the power situation is where it is today. We cannot move forward as a nation until we deal with power because it is so fundamental. But we could have solved the problem 20 years ago. “

For his part, former Vice President Atiku Abubakar said Nigeria needs leadership that understands technology and is ready to reform the economy through digital innovation. He added that Nigeria needed a technology enthusiast to be president.

In his remarks, Dokpesi, founder of DAAR Communications, said that Nigeria’s growth and development could only be realized if political leaders could create new economic opportunities and transform society through technology. With this in mind, Dokpesi said that science and technology have tremendous benefits for Nigeria’s economic growth.

Given the known benefits and strategic importance of science, technology and innovation to the development of any nation, the budget allocated to the Federal Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation, a ministry designed to advance the technological advancement of the economy, has been paltry and pathetic. A few statistics are enough. From the analysis, the Federal Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation received an average of 0.76 percent of the federal budget over the past ten years.

Often the annual budget allocations to the ministry only cover the salaries of the staff and nothing more. In 2018, only 0.01 percent of the federal budget was earmarked for research and development. This was equal to 1.87 percent of the Ministry’s budget, as current expenses accounted for 42.8 percent of the Ministry’s budget in the same year.

In the 2019 Grant Act, the ministry, with over 17 agencies focused on promoting the development and use of science and technology, received a pathetic allocation of about N. 66.82 billion, the allocation being less than one percent of the proposed budget for 2019 and was the lowest in the draft budget. Even the federal government secretariat received more funding than the federal ministry for science, technology and innovation.

In the 2020 federal budget, around N 105 billion was allocated to the ministry, while capital expenditure for the ministry was around N 63 billion. In addition, the ministry was allocated a meager N50.73 billion in the 2021 federal budget in view of the COVID-19 pandemic, which had shown the need for further investment in this sector!

How could the ministry set up with mandate to formulate, monitor and review the National Science, Technology and Innovation Policy (NPSTI) contribute to the macroeconomic and social goals of Vision 20: 2020 related to science and technology the budget allocations are treated like this? It shows that we are not serious about developing our own technologies and innovations that meet our needs.

It simply means that we continue to rely on the developed countries to the detriment of our nation.

Annually, the two arms of the federal government – the executive and the legislature – work together to starve science and technology with the means necessary to turn science and technology into catalysts for Nigeria’s orderly and rapid socio-economic change. The executive and legislative branches are therefore for Nigeria

technological backwardness. This sad narrative can be changed by these two government arms by prioritizing investment in science, technology and innovation. The two government arms should learn from other countries.

Between 2009 and 2013, research and development allocations in Israel, Japan, Germany and South Korea amounted to at least three percent of GDP. Compare with Nigeria, which, according to President Muhammadu Buhari, will spend only 0.5 percent of the country’s GDP on research and innovation. Compare this distribution with those of other countries, you will see how dubious we are.

Nigeria’s failure to adequately fund research and development is clearly demonstrated by the different numbers of patent applications in countries such as China and the United States of America. Between 2009 and 2011, the number of patent applications was 310,330 in China and 238,213 in the US. During the same period, Nigeria had 43 patent applications.

Again, between 2006 and 2009, scientists in China published an average of 50,376 research papers in peer-reviewed journals; Nigerian scientists only managed to get 440 papers published.

It is therefore evident that without better funding and funding for scientific research, Nigeria will continue to stand in the backyard of technology and innovation. And without technology, we will continue to stagnate.

Aluta Continua!

– This column wishes Dr. Raymond Dokpesi a lavish 70th birthday party.

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