2018 Tech Expo: Nigeria inches towards innovation driven economy
Posted: 12/Mar/2018

Last week’s technology expo in Abuja witnessed a tumultuous crowd of investors, innovators, researchers and entrepreneurs - all with their findings, products and inventions. With array of locally made machines and electronics products showcased at the expo, officials and experts said Nigeria has started its journey towards innovation-driven economy.
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo couldn't hide his feeling when he commissioned the National Science and Engineering Infrastructure (NASENI) made Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) on the opening day of the five-day 2018 Technology and Innovation Expo which took part at Eagle Square, Abuja. 
 The vice president said with locally made engineering and scientific products like the NASENI’s UAV and others displayed at the Expo, Nigeria was surely on its path towards the promised land of greatness.  
 He said “innovation will create jobs, it will attract investment, it will boost export, it will grow our economy. These are part of the positive impact that it will have on our image and perception around the world.
 “Equally worthy of note is that Nigeria is a country hungry for innovation, every challenge that we face in terms of security, infrastructure deficit, financial inclusion and so on is a natural laboratory for manifestation of groundbreaking, home-grown innovation.”  
The Nigeria’s number two citizen said the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari would not rest until many of the country’s youth turn their youthful energy towards science and technology.
 Towards this end he said the present administration has laid down a number of programmes towards making this possible. According to him, one of the laudable plan for making science and innovation attractive to the youths is the administration’s 5th executive order; for supplying and execution of projects and programmes especially in the area of science, engineering and technology. He said by the order, no one is allowed to source or supply any science and engineering products from abroad unless such cannot be produced in the country. 
 “As contained in Executive Order Five, we will also establish centres for acquisition of technology in each of the geopolitical zones of the country. We will provide intervention funds that will strengthen research and development through training programmes and partnerships in Nigeria universities and polytechnics.
“We are also setting up technology hubs in universities in the six geopolitical zones. And this is important also as we do this to celebrate the creativity and innovation of many of our young Nigerians who are doing incredible things in science and technology.
“As part of our own effort to create emerging environment for technology band innovation in Nigeria, President Buhari has approved a new science and technology innovation roadmap 2012-2030 for Nigeria. He has also approved National Strategy for Competitiveness in raw materials and product development in Nigeria.
“It is our intention as a government to utilise those initiative to stimulate global competiveness of our raw materials and support our ambition for a diversified economy”, he said.
He said the World Bank had supported some Nigerian innovators with about $3 million, “the first tranche of which has already been disbursed”.
  He added: “I’m pleased to note that World Bank is committing an additional $3 million for six technology hubs across Nigeria in our universities.”
 He said in addition, the federal government planned to strengthen the technology and innovation ecosystem by supporting the development of new innovation hubs in partnership with the private sectors, “and this is well on course.”
 The Vice President further said: “We have recently concluded a competitive selection process of private sector entities that will implement and manage the hubs. Each of these hubs will focus solely the market challenges peculiar to the region of the country in which each is located.
 “We have colaborative team with the Bank of Industry with a semi-hub, which is private hub and all private sector entities to run a presidential technology innovation challenge in all Nigerian universities-public and private, and also some polytechnics in April of this year. Each university winner will be invited to an award event hosted by Mr. President.
 “We are also setting up technology hubs in universities in the six geopolitical zones. And this is important also as we do this to celebrate the creativity and innovation of many of our young Nigerians who are doing incredible things in science and technology.”
He said the administration of President Buhari would develop a strong confident nation that is able to quickly identity and take advantage of emerging opportunities in a rapidly evolving world.
The Minister of Science and Technology, Dr Ogbonnaya Onu, also corroborated the VP by saying there are signs that Nigeria is already on the march towards a new dawn in science.
According to the minister, the number of patents granted to innovators and inventors in the country had risen to 50 by 2017 ending, indicating that number of innovations and inventions were on the rise.
‘’Already, there are signs that we are on the onward march toward a new dawn.
 In 2015, there were only 6 patents for research findings in our country which were processed through the National Office for Technology Acquisition and Promotion (NOTAP). Barely a year later in 2016, the number increased to 16. By the end of last year, 2017, it rose significantly to 50.   “This is a clear evidence of a remarkable improvement in the level of innovation in Nigeria,” he said.    
He said science and technology could bind Nigerians together in the common pursuit of creating more jobs, creating wealth, reducing poverty, strengthening the naira and reawakening Nigerians’ sense of pride.
“Nigeria can surpass the achievements of the advanced nations of the world [with science]. What we are doing today shows clearly that we have the human resource that will help us achieve this’’, Dr Onu said.
For Professor Muhammed Sani Haruna, the Executive Vice Chairman of National Science and Engineering Infrastructure (NASENI), the agency capabilities proves that within ‘’Nigerians exist the possibilities of taking our people out of poverty and misery, through deploying our engineering innovations, technologies, researches and other scientific results using locally sourced manpower and materials.”
Some of the NASENI’s locally made products exhibited at the Expo include: Electronic voting solution, NASENI agriculture but multipurpose unmanned aerial vehicles (drones) which were developed locally, the wholly first made-in-Nigeria jet engine, first made-in-Nigeria solar panel and products, first made-in-Nigeria propeller turbines, first Nigeria small hydro power, kinetic turbines, first made-in-Nigeria tricycle (KEKE NASENI), Nigeria’s most efficient energy saving LED bulbs, first made-in-Nigeria motorcycle, NASENI’s 24-hour cassava flour processing machine, and three-in-one grains thresher.  
Meanwhile, Dr Anthony Onuruka, Lecture  Department of Agriculral and Bio-Environmental Engineering, Imo State Polytechnic, Umuagwo-Ohaji,  has called on the Federal Government to partner with institutions and entrepreneurs to commercialise inventions.

By:Zakariyya Adaramol
Daily Trust