Researchers in Nigeria have advocated the formulation of a national policy on industry and academia partnership to enhance synergy and the transfer of research into products and services.
Speaking during a virtual meeting organised by the Tertiary Education Trust Fund, TETFund, Research and Development Standing Committee, RDSC, on Institutionalisation of R&D in Industrialisation, manufacturing, Trade, Investment and Economy thematic group.
The researchers stressed the need for Nigeria to utilise research to grow a competitive economy on its areas of comparative advantage such as agriculture.
President of Manufacturers Association of Nigeria, Engr Mansur Ahmed, who chaired the meeting, noted that the country should aim for sustained economic growth, build the capacity of its manufacturing sector and expand its trade policies.
While appreciating the leadership and commitment of the Executive Secretary of TETFund, Prof Suleiman Bogoro, for initiating the process of institutionalising R&D in the country, Ahmed said “we need a clear strategy for expanding our energy sector to support our industrialisation strategy; we need to upscale the skills of Nigerians.”
He expressed confidence that R&D has enough potentials to grow the country’s manufacturing sector, noting that the country must factor research in a way that fits the industrialisation process to grow its economy in a way that Nigeria becomes an industrialised nation.
“We all recognised that R&D has been the major driver of economies across the world and every aspect of life but it has not had that impact in Nigeria, that especially, we believe that we have potentials given the enormous human and material resources that are at our disposal.
He added that the R&D initiative which seeks to anchor research in the country’s economy was overdue, stating that the time to institutionalise research in Nigeria is now.
According to him, the socio economic aspects of industrialisation, manufacturing, trade, investment and economy constitutes the social transition from the output of research and development into the provision of products and services for human livelihood.
A Vice Chairman of the TETFund RDSC, Prof Anya O. Anya, in his remarks, noted that Nigeria must aim at double digits economic growth and single digit inflation, adding that it is only when the country’s economy grows at 7.5 per cent of GDP per annum that the country can overcome some of its challenges and induce competitiveness.
Anya said the reason Nigeria must keep its inflation down is that the high unemployment and poverty rates in the country cannot be managed except its inflation is brought down.
Also speaking, the Chairman of the RDSC, Prof Njida Gadzama, said given the potentials Nigeria has, the country deserves to be better than what it is.
Gadzama, who lamented that the country imports virtually everything, called on all Nigerians to lay aside their differences, unite and develop the country.
On the issue of insecurity in the country, he noted that the nation must return to the era when it used to manufacture its own military weapons such as rifles.
In a presentation, a Professor of Agronomy at Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University, Bauchi, Prof Ali Garba, noted that the manufacturing sector accounts for only 11 per cent of the country’s economy as at 2019, adding that manufacturing in Nigeria is hindered by poor power supply, government policies, among others.
While giving a breakdown of Nigeria’s economic performance, Garba said the country’s largest export sector is crude petroleum with 76 per cent, while petroleum gas has 14 per cent and agricultural products 22 per cent.
He lamented that as at 1980, Nigeria used to refine its crude and all vehicles were assembled in Nigeria but now they are all imported, stating that agriculture and the industry are important mutual partners in the industrialisation process.
According to him, adequate infrastructural development such as good road networks and electricity were very critical to the country’s quest for industrialisation.
On defence and military, he said if defence could step up its security investment in the country will improve and industrialisation will take place, adding that military equipment can also be manufactured locally.
He said industrialisation in Nigeria was the solution to unemployment and poverty, while noting that all counties that developed were at one point suffering from unemployment until they achieved industrialisation.