[FILES] Engineering. Photo: IROZ GAIZKA/AFP/Getty Images
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To advance the cause of science, technology and innovation (STI) in Nigeria, about N924 billion investments would be needed in the sector.
This is according to the National Development Plan (NDP) 2021 to 2025, Volume 1. The document, which explained that STI are three intertwined concepts that underpin the development of products, processes and systems that ensure human progress and wellbeing, noted that science, technology and innovation in Nigeria continue to suffer from weak policy implementation and limited funding for research and development.
It stressed that research and development is the major pillar upon which STI stands.
According to the document, the world average gross expenditure on research and development as a percentage of GDP is 1.68 per cent, while the latest figure for Nigeria is 0.13 per cent in 2007.
The NDP said funding challenge also extends to lack of long-term capital and high cost of borrowing to fund commercialisation of scientific inventions that emerge from research in public research institutions, and ineffective partnership among stakeholders such as government, industry and academic institutions.
It observed that the limited adoption of locally developed technologies is also discouraging to the modest local STI efforts.
The document observed that the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) curriculum from primary to tertiary levels requires significant fine tuning, and most researchers need further exposure to modern teaching and scientific techniques.
According to it, additional binding constraints include lack of well-equipped large-scale research laboratories and specialised equipment such as 3D Printers, Machine Shops and Mass Spectrometers.
Despite these challenges, the NDP observed that there are clear interests from local and international institutions to advance STI in Nigeria and to create technologies that are appropriate for the Nigerian market.
It pointed out that Nigerian universities and public research institutes under various ministries are established to conduct research activities that can be beneficial to the economy.
NDP said improved communication and partnerships between industries or their representatives such as the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) in identifying their challenges and encouraging researchers to create innovative local technological solutions would help grow the economy and contribute to the creation of decent objectives and targets, 2021 – 2025 jobs.
In terms of strategies, the document disclosed that Nigeria will pursue an aggressive agenda of accelerated STI, laying the foundation for a science-based and ready workforce that can apply scientific thought and concepts to solve a broad sub-set of Nigerian problems.
According to the document, the country will support the evolution of the national system of innovation by creating the factors and conditions essential for innovators, creators, scientists and technologists to translate ideas into products and services that scale into national and global markets.
The key strategies for the medium term, according to the NDP, will include achieving harmonisation in STI policy framework and coordination for STEM including effective and coordinated curriculum development at all levels of our educational system in synergy with the Federal Ministry of Education by 2025.
Govt is expected to build a National Innovation Ecosystem that integrates all multi-stakeholders across the three tiers of government, the private sector and civil society groups to mobilize resources and commitment to build a national innovation system that encompasses new products and services that align with national and global benchmarks.
The NDP also informed that FG will transform education for research and innovation driven -market outcomes and by 2025, the ministerial strategic plan for innovation demand led education sector reform will have been fully implemented.