Science, Technology and Innovation Systems – Current Status in Nigeria

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Science, Technology and Innovation Systems – Current Status in Nigeria. Dr. E.M. Okonkwo (Director General, NARICT, FMST, Nigeria) Dr. Alex U. Akpa (Director, Medical Biotechnology, FMST, Nigeria). Introduction.
Science, Technology and Innovation Systems – Current Status in NigeriaDr. E.M. Okonkwo(Director General, NARICT, FMST, Nigeria)Dr. Alex U. Akpa(Director, Medical Biotechnology, FMST, Nigeria) Introduction
  • With a land area of about 923,768 km², Nigeria is one of the largest countries in Africa
  • Population over 140 million largest black nation in the world
  • Agriculture provides employment for most of the population (oil and gas)
  • Democratic system with three tires of government:
  • Central or federal government
  • State governments
  • Local governments
  • Nigeria is a federation of 36 states with three seats of government located in the central city Abuja. 765 Local government areas apply.The Nigerian Economy
  • 1.2.1 before independence in 1960, agriculture played a dominant role in the overall economy of Nigeria- contributing significantly to both the Gross Domestic Product and Total Value of Export. The bulk of revenue accruing to the government at the time was derived form the agricultural sector, which contributed 45% of total export. During the decade 1960 – 1970, the growth rate of agriculture was comparable to that of population of about 3%. By 1965, agriculture accounted for 50% of the GDP and 45% of export. During the decade of the 70s agriculture’s contribution to the GDP has gone down to about 30% while contribution to export was under 10%. Petroleum exports assumed a dominant role as an export commodity. It comprised 58% of all export in 1970, 96%, 97% and 95% in 1980, 1990, and 1999 respectively.
  • 1.2.2 However, the oil glut and the consequent drop in the price of petro-products in the early 1980s (1982 to 1986) reduced foreign exchange earnings and necessitated efforts towards the revival and revitalization of the other sectors of the economy, and in particular, agriculture.The manufacturing Sector
  • 1980-1985 during the pre-structural adjustment period the manufacturing sector experienced a downward trend. The average capacity utilization was in the order of 44%.
  • 1986-1993 corresponding the structural adjustment period (SAP) the index rose from 75 to 182.7 while capacity utilization was an average of 40.8%.
  • 1993-1998 post SAP period, manufacturing index fell from 185 to 133, utilization of 32%.
  • Impact on the lives of common people
  • Per capita income falling significantly to about US$300 between 1990-2000 (SSA average was US$450)
  • 90 million Nigerian of the 133 million then were in absolute poverty, less then one dollar a day
  • Presently, per capita income is US$1050
  • Needs
  • Government reforms from 1999 to present
  • With the return of democratic governance in 1999 a series of reforms were embedded upon under the National Economic Government and Development strategy in consonance with the MDGs from the UN
  • Under this strategy less emphasis was paid on oil and gas as the national economy
  • Non-oil sector (agriculture, solid minerals, telecommunication, FDI, ETC) gained more prominence
  • The Science, Technology and Innovation Policies in NigeriaThe ministry of Science and Technology was scrapped and recreated several times under the long period of military rule.In 1999 the FMST has witnessed more stability. Since then many STI policies have Been put in place; the more prominent ones include:4.1.3 The recent emergence of more science and technology draft policies is based on the premise that there is the desire need for appropriate technologies that Nigeria through and beyond will propel the 21st century. The policies are designed to underpin the nation’s socio-economic progress taking into account domestic productions in agriculture and rural development, industrial and health sectors
  • 4.1.4. The policies prescribe the use of science in integrating indigenous knowledge into development initiatives and popularizing of science and technology for growth and development
  • 4.1.5 At present there are about twelve policy documents on Science and Technology in Federal Ministry of Science and Technology. While some of the policies are draft policies still undergoing scrutiny, some have been given Federal Executive Council’s approval. Such will be presented to the legislature for legitimization through the enactment of relevant Bills.4.1.6 the draft policies are:
  • Policy on Linkage of the Federal Ministry of Science and Technology Universities, National and International research Institutes.
  • Policy on Human Capacity Building of Nigerians in, and Transfer of Technology by Multinational Companies
  • Policy on Cooperation of Federal Government Ministries and Federal Ministry of Science and Technology based Capital Projects at Federal, State and Local Government levels.
  • Policy on Appropriate Technologies for Empowering Small and Medium-Scale Enterprises (SMEs)
  • Policy on Engineering Materials Development
  • Policy on Science and Technology Data Bank
  • Policy on Intellectual Property Rights
  • Policy on Energy Research and Development
  • 4.1.7
  • Policy on Biotechnology
  • Policy on Space Research
  • Policy on Information technology
  • Presidential Council on Science and Technology (PCST)
  • Policy on Biotechnology
  • Policy Proposals: National Biotechnology Policy was articulated to facilitate advancement in Biotechnology. The policy mission is that Nigeria shall “as a matter of priority, initiate appropriate steps to explore the use of Biotechnology for the benefit of Nigerians and thus ensure that Nigeria becomes one of the international leaders in Biotechnology”. This should be pursued through the provision of an enabling environment that responds to the needs of biotech industry, the R&D communities and the relevant national and international concerns.
  • The policy prescribes the establishment of a National Agency which should have the responsibility to coordinate biotechnology research and development. A Minister’s Council shall be set up to be responsible for the activities of the Agency. A National technical Committee shall be set up to serve as a body of experts to advise the Ministers Council.Policy on Space Research
  • Policy Proposals: the policy on Space Research aims at ensuring that Nigeria vigorously pursues the attainment of Space Capabilities as an essential tool for its socio-economic development and the enhancement of the quality of life for its people.
  • Organization/Institution set up and its Mandate: National Space Research and Development Agency (NASRDA) has been established. It became operational with a Decree on National Science and Technology ACT, 1980; National Space Research and Development Agency Order 1999. NASRDA is to coordinate various programmes for the attainment of the national space capability.
  • Policy on Information Technology4.2.3.1 Policy proposals: NITDA is to make Nigerian and IT capable country in Africa and key player in the information society by the year 2005 using IT as the engine for sustainable development and global competitiveness as well as for wealth creation and poverty eradication. NITDA is to implement the IT policy, regulate, monitor, evaluate and verify progress on an on-going basis under the supervision and coordination of its parent ministry – Federal Ministry of Science and Technology.The National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) has also been created to implement the IT policyPresidential council on Science and technology
  • Policy Proposal: this council meets at least three times a year under the chairmanship of Professor Hassan, the President of the Third World Academy of Science (TWAS) to evaluate/ the implementation of the various S&T policies and advice the president. The Council which is hired by Professor Hassan, is made up of four international Science & Technology experts; the honorable minister of S&T, the permanent secretary, all directors of the Ministry and the Director General of the various agencies.
  • Despite the fact that the nation now has place well articulated S&T policies and very critical areas, full benefits have not been derived from these efforts de mainly to the shear absence of a strong innovation component in the policies; the innovation component was not clearly defined.
  • As we all know, innovation is often confused with research and measured in the terms of scientific or technological outputs. What we have all learnt in this course, has however emphasized the fact that innovation is neither research nor science and technology, but rather the application of knowledge in production.
  • This knowledge might be acquired through learning, research or experience, but until it is applied in the production of goods or services, it cannot be considered innovation.
  • The range of innovations is quite wide, comprising both radical changes and many small improvements in product design and quality, in production processes or the way in which production is organized, in management, marketing or maintenance routines that collectively modify products and processes, bring cost down, increase efficiency and ensure environmental sustainability.
  • As opposed to the focus on novelty that is central to the concept of invention and a key criterion for patenting, innovation is a broader concept and consists of the process by which firms master and implement the design and production of goods and services that are new to them irrespective of whether they are new to their competitors, their countries or the world (Mytelka, 2000, 18)Some examples of Nigeria’s Innovative Achievements Irrespective of the fact clearly shown above, that innovation did not form a central part of Nigeria’s science and technology policies, a few modest achievements have been recorded, these include:
  • Space research: Nigeria has recently launched two satellites
  • A remote sensing, environmental monitoring satellite which was used in effective tracking of the tsunami and Katerina floor disasters, and
  • A communication satellite (NigComSat1) which has now domesticated the hosting of communication/internet bands in the country. The satellite is also expected to improve the provision of GSM services in the country.
  • The Space Agency is presently working on NigerianSat2 which is planned/expected to be launched from the country.
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