18 December 2012

Nigeria: 'Lack of Indigenous Technology, Bane of Capital Flight'

Directors of parastatals under the Ministry of Science and Technology has unanimously agreed that the lack of indigenous technology to power our technological development has led to the squandering of billions of dollars on the importation of such technologies.

This unanimous stand was taken at the workshop on the validation of the implementation framework for the revised science, technology and innovation policy in Abuja.

In his remarks, the Director-General of the National Office for Technology Acquisition and Promotion (NOTAP), Dr. Umar Bindir, lamented that Nigeria imports 100 per cent of the technologies to drive the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) sector, which is the key driver of all sectors of the economy.

He said, "It is sad that we are still importing technology to run our ICT and banking sectors. Virtually 100 per cent of technology we use to run the economy is imported. I can tell you that in this country; both private and public sectors spend not less than N500billlion to import technology and the nation may find it difficult to achieve vision 20:2020 if we continue to import technology to run our economy from abroad."

Earlier in her opening address, the Permanent Secretary, ministry of science and technology, Hajiya Rabi Jimeta, said that the ministry is poised at re-positioning Nigeria towards becoming one of the best twenty economies of the world by 2020.

Jimeta noted that Science, Technology and Innovation (ST&I) were pivotal to the development and advancement of other sectors of the economy.

The permanent secretary said that the workshop was necessitated by the need to critique, build capacity and chart direction for the successful implementation of the policy document.

She said, "In order to ensure successful implementation of the policy, the ministry has come up with a draft implementation/action plan, which is expected to address sectoral areas in our economy such as Agriculture, Education, Energy, Housing and Urban development, Information and Communication Technology, Transport, Women and Youth, Sports, Tourism and Development, Human resource Development, Space Research, Defence, National Security among others, using science and technology as a platform."

According to her, "the action plan/framework will also address areas of non-commercialization of research results, low value addition to agricultural products and industrial goods and services, lack of linkages between the research institutes/academia and industries and lack of mechanism for funding research and development activities."

In his address, the Director General, National Centre for Technology Management (NACETEM), Dr. Willie Siyanbola, noted that the revised Science, Technology and Innovation Policy prompts direction and serves as a solid platform on which Nigeria can rely.

Siyanbola identified political leadership, funding, partnership and culturalisation as important pre-requisites for the policy to have the needed impact.

He said, "We need to be selective and value priority setting as we have passed the time when we do a lot without achieving. Now is the time to do the little we can and see what we can achieve from it. Nigeria needs to design a new diplomatic portfolio suitable for science and technology as well as make science and technology a way of life of our people."

The Director General recommended strong institutional and legal framework, robust funding mechanism, proper involvement and engagement of all stakeholders and strong policy instruments, in order to achieve what the Science, Technology and Innovation Policy document set out to achieve.

The Auditor of the World Bank/STEP-B Project Secretariat, Mr. Ben Nwanze, who represented the National Co-ordinator of the project, Prof. Michael Adikwu, said that the STEP-B project has been on for close to five years and will be concluded in 2013, saying that "the project has impacted positively in all 104 unity schools and tertiary institutions as well as research institutes under the Ministry of Science and Technology across the country."

Mr. Nwanze however, affirmed that the World Bank will continue its collaboration with the ministry in other areas after the conclusion of the STEP-B project towards the development of Science and Technology in the country.

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