Technological innovations the only route for sustainable development in Nigeria

By: DUUSEC Integrated Services

Collaboration between academia and industry is unarguably a critical element of efficient national innovation systems. It is essential to analyse the experience of developed countries to foster a better understanding of the different types of research-industry-government collaboration, motivations to form these agreements and barriers to cooperation, as well as the role of public policy in fostering such linkages. Developing countries like Nigeria face enormous barriers to efforts aimed at achieving such alliances, this calls for a discerned approach to enhancing existing research-industry-government synergy and in developing new ones. It is a regrettable fact that after over fifty-seven years after independence, Nigeria still depend largely on foreign nations for her various technological and industrial needs. The effects of this dependence is evident in Nigeria’s poor development and gross low technological productivity and shaky economical growth.

A county is said to be technologically backward when

It lacks the capacity to produce capital goods such as tractors, lathe machines, drilling machines, cars, trains, and other earth moving equipment.
It lacks the knowledge and skills to exploit her natural resources except with the help of foreigners who will normally provide the technology and expertise to undertake the exploitation of her natural resources.

It is unable to produce her own military hardware with which to defend herself if the need arises.

Agriculture is not mechanised i.e. use of crude implements for agricultural production activities by a large percentage of those who are involved in agricultural production.

It depends on other countries for the supply of its spare parts for industrial machinery
It exports raw materials to other countries as against finished products.

A critical examination of Nigeria presently reveals that all the points itemised above are contemporary in the country. Consequently, Nigeria as spelt out in the items above is a technological backward country.

Our situation in Nigeria is not totally hopeless. As a nation, we can leave the comity of technologically backward nations to one of technologically advanced nation if the following suggestions are honestly implemented in the interest of the nation.

Copying of items existing in the market.
To achieve this laboratories, workshops, and other appropriate facilities should be developed for component analysis and for building prototypes of items to be produced. 

Products of interest in could be completely knocked down in the workshops, with study and analysis of each component in the laboratories to learn its chemical composition, physical properties and other production parameters of interest and replicate such items.
 Government should encourage “homemade/Igbo made” items and should put measures that will help in improving the quality of their products so as to compete favourably with those imported.

Industrial Spying
Spies can often be sent as employees to collect top secrets and company documents required for developing products of interest, these information they pass on to their sponsors for a fee. 

Highly technical and military technology is closely guarded by their proprietors. The secrets can be obtained either by direct investments or through espionage.
Provision of Infrastructural Facilities in our Schools
Presently, the older universities in Nigeria have obsolete tools and the newer ones cannot afford to equip their laboratories and workshops Otubanso (2005) in “Education for Underdevelopment” quoted a chemistry professor as saying that “students no longer do practical but only the theory of practical/alternative to practical". The ideals of the society are supposed to be passed to the next generation by the school system. 

If our students cannot do basic practical how can we aspire to a technological breakthrough? It is therefore imperative that for us to overcome the problem of technological backwardness, the public and private sectors must as a matter of necessity and urgency invest monumental resources towards
upgrading our educational infrastructures. We should probably recall the
statement of Martin Luther King, who said: “The prosperity of a country
depends not on the abundance of its revenues, nor on the strength of its
fortifications, not on the beauty of its public buildings, but it consists in the
number of its cultivated citizens, its men of education, enlightenment of

Adequate Financing of Research Institutions
A good number of research institutions in Nigeria are not adequately funded.
This continues to weigh against effective research undertaking. India for example invested over three billion dollars in 1985 in some 1,300 research institutes working on electronics aeronautics and space, atomic energy, etc.

In 1985, India spent 1.5% of her GNP on research and development compared with about 2.5% spent by the US. Nigeria’s highest allocation
figure was 0.43% in 1983, which went down to 0.05% in 1992 and 0.23% in 2003 (The Nigerian Engineer, Vol. 35 No. 4 December 2003):

Recently in 2007, Nigeria’s education sector again received much lower than the 26 percent of national budget, as recommended by the United Nations. In the 2017 budget proposals presented by President Muhammadu Buhari, N448.01billion was allocated to education, representing about 6 percent of the N7.30 trillion budget, contrary to the recommendation by UNESCO.

This is very sad for a sector whose responsibility is to research into areas that will enhance development in the country.

Bold Energy Production and Supply
It was abundant energy supply that launched Europe into the industrial revolution. Nigeria has been flaring natural gas from oil wells for over 57 years, it has an abundant deposit of coal, yet the Power Generating Firms cannot generate and supply electricity to Nigeria. Industrial transformation can only thrive
on a steady and sustainable supply of electricity. Since experience has shown that anything under government control never functions properly in Nigeria, then it is imperative that for Nigeria to achieve technological breakthrough,
power generation and effective distribution must be a case of serious national concern.

Engineers, Technologists, Technicians and Class Struggle
Presently there is a cold war between engineers, technologists and technicians in Nigeria each feeling that he is superior to the other. But it is pertinent for all to know that they are all members of the same family and they need to work together to pull Nigeria out of the morass of technological
backwardness. Gordian Ezekwe, one time minister of science and
technology, commenting on bringing about Nigeria’s technological breakthrough once said: “No one man does it. It is going to be a combined thrust of the best hands and brains, in all sectors of the society and of all and sundry in this country, including the clerks”.

Appropriate Technology
We need to embark on the acquisition of the technology that is appropriate and useful to us as a nation. That America has sent men to space does not mean that Nigeria must also send men to space. We need to look at our
environment see what our local people do, and fabricate machines tools and equipment that will assist them to do these things more efficiently hence
enhance productivity.

Good Leadership
For Nigeria to join the comity of technologically developed countries there must be a leader who is sincere, committed, has foresight, visionary and to walk the talk. Not merely by saying it as common with our leaders but by doing it. Koontz et al. (2002) noted that “the importance of good leadership is nowhere better dramatized than in the case of many underdeveloped
countries where provision of capital or technology does not ensure development. The limiting factor in almost every case has been the lack of quality and vigor on the part of managers". This statement is particularly for
Nigerian leaders whose major aims are not only on how to amass wealth for themselves but for their unborn generation.

Nigeria is poor, unable to feed her teeming population, debtors, high inflation, have
low life expectancy figures, and to a large extent have inept leaders. These leaders
are unable to exploit the natural resources at their disposal. Nigeria as a nation
strive to quit the stage of dependency on foreign technologies/goods to an
industrialized dependent nation. This will help the citizenry and make her the real
giant of Africa.

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