The manufacturing industry stands at the forefront of an effective diversification of the Nigeria’s economy, hence the need to harness the country’s indigenous technologies to give the manufacturing sector an edge in the diversification agenda.
Technology experts argue that argues that a more holistic approach will be needed to make Nigeria’s manufacturing sector stand on a good platform with those of advances economies. Apart from getting the power sector right, massive investment must also be made on indigenous technologies and research and development.
But the Federal Government said it is driving a new agenda to lead Nigeria into the league of industrialised societies through massive investment in indigenous technology, technology transfer and Innovations.
This was evident recently when Nigeria and the Czech Republic launched a call for Public Proposals on Delta-2 Programme worth $16.2 million co-funding Research and Development (R&D) project. At the forefront of this agenda is the Presidential Implementation Committee on Czech Republic-Nigeria Technology Transfer (PICTT), co-chaired by the duo of Dr. Mohammed Dahiru and Prof. Mohammed Haruna, who is the Executive Vice Chairman/ CEO of the National Agency For Science and Engineering Infrastructure (NASENI).
The Delta-2 Programme is the cooperation model of the Technology Agency of Czech Republic TA CR, running for the period from 2020-2025, through which TA CR sponsors applied research and innovation of manufacturing companies and innovative institutions. Nigeria had just become a new beneficiary of the programme.
This project is the latest in the quest to strengthen bilateral ties between the two countries in the area of technology transfer in line with the economic diversification priority of the government of President Muhammadu Buhari.
According to NASENI boss, prof Haruna, “Nigeria and Czech Republic signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in 2014, in Prague by NASENI and TA CR on some critical areas of technology transfer and innovations which had resulted in the Co-Funding of Czech-Nigeria Bilateral R&D Project on Delta-2 Programme’’
He said: “The priority areas of the MoU include Biotechnology and Pharmaceutical Research, agricultural and Food Technology, Mining Industrial Development among others and the Presidential Implementation Committee (PICTT) on Technology Transfer/Information Exchange between Nigeria and Czech Republic has become the veritable platform to push this initiative.’’
The PICTT, which was inaugurated by President Buhari in November 2020, is the propelling force that gives this project the structure upon which it can thrive and pursue determined objectives.
Prof. Haruna, during the formal launch of the call for proposals on Delta-2 Programme recently in Abuja, said that the PICTT would be sourcing technologies from the Czech Republic’s manufacturing companies; tertiary; research; and development institutions. He broke down the $16.2 million saying that the sum of CZK 250 million (250 million Czech Koruna, approximately US$10.5 million) has been allocated as research fund by the government of the Czech Republic, through the TA CR and will be supplemented by NASENI on behalf of the Federal Government of Nigeria to the sum of 2,000,000,000 or US5.7 million.
“Technology acquisition and domestication through this collaboration will help in bridging the technology gap between Nigeria and the advanced countries of the West and to facilitate Nigeria’s transition to a manufacturing economy. Indeed, deployment of technology is crucial to mitigate our socio-economic and security challenges.
“The Delta-2 Programme is uniquely designed to catalyze technology transfer and mobilize positive interventions and investments among private sectors and relevant stakeholders in Nigeria and Czech Republic for technology advancement. The project seeks to mobilize investments to help developing countries like Nigeria meet their needs for environmentally sound technology”, he explained.
The NASENI boss has maintained that the output of the collaborative projects are expected to yield patents, pilot plants, development of proven technologies, industrial designs, prototypes, functional samples, software, certified methodologies, processes and specialized maps, databases, commercialization among others.
Chairman of Presidential Implementation Committee on Technology Transfer/Information Exchange between the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the Czech Republic, Dr. Muhammed Dahiru said the Launch of Call for Public Proposals which is simultaneously being hosted by the TA CR and at least eight (8) other participating countries, is the first part of the project procedure/schedule on TA CR Delta-2 programme for Bilateral cooperation in Applied Research and Technology Transfer for Agriculture, Mining and General Manufacturing.
“Research and Development (R&D) proposals are now invited from Nigeria academic community, research and development institutions, as well as private companies or entrepreneurs and independent researchers on the three priority areas of Agriculture and Food Technology; Mining and Industrial Development; and General Manufacturing for SMEs Development”, he said.
Ambassador of Czech Republic to Nigeria, Zdenek Krejci, who was represented by Beata Matusikova of the Economic and Commercial Affairs, during the call for proposal, lauded the project, stressing that it will strengthen the ties between both countries for mutual benefits.
NASENI is as an agency of the Ministry of Science Technology and Innovation and is the only purpose-built agency established to carry out research and reverse engineering to foster the proliferation of technologies and ultimately modernize the Nigerian economy.
Since he emerged the CEO of NASENI in 2012, Prof. Haruna has engaged in different innovative activities ranging from research, design and manufacturing of machine components and spare parts targeted at transforming the socio-economic landscape of the country. He has promoted the utilization of technical knowledge and Advanced Manufacturing Technology (ATM) during the years under review.
It has made a wide range of achievements. At the peak of the COVID-19 crisis, NASENI designed and manufactured the NASENI COVID-19 Disinfectants Sprayer Tunnels, which was the first and indigenous effort to fight the pandemic. This innovation was an effective response to the COVID-19 pandemic and it has helped a great deal in tackling the disease and curtailing its spread.
The agency also manufactured the NASENI Electronic Voting Solution, which is a solar powered electronic solution with cloud-based collation of election results. The Independent National Electoral Commission can benefit from this as they prepare for next year’s general elections. It is a solution to Nigeria’s electoral challenges, which relies on robust hardware and software. This e-voting solution guarantees national, state and local government elections on the same day at the same time.
NASENI manufactured solar panels, which they can install in offices and homes. The agency has also produced Smart Prepaid Energy Meter (SPEM) directed at solving the problem of metering in Nigeria’s power sector. The agency manufactured the first Made-in-Nigeria Propeller Turbine, Gas Turbine for Jet Engine and as well designed and manufactured Rice Multi-grain Thresher among many others.
Nigeria’s enormous potential in technology, could spur investment if properly harnessed and this has to be the focus of the next dispensation. Apart from that, the massive jobs that will be created will add value to the country’s GDP and help to reduce the current economic stress. It will also make Nigerian products competitive and bring prestige to the country within the comity of nations.
NASENI is leading the charge to overcome Nigeria’s challenge of converting research into industry and converting output into intellectual property, patents, trademarks, industrial design and knowledge at the highest level. It is also working to align projects with the needs of the country.
Recall that President Buhari on February 2, 2018, signed into law the Executive Order No.5 aimed at engaging indigenous professionals in the execution of government jobs for improvement of indigenous skills as well as protection of indigenous firms. NASENI is already implementing this Order in collaboration with other government agencies.