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Policy Commission: Science and Technology Report during NESG 2009 Summit

Jan 22, 2010 - The following is a summary of the Nigeria Economic Summit Group (NESG) policy commission's breakout session held on December 16, 2009, during the NESG summit in Abuja, Nigeria.

 

I

n his opening remarks, the Chairman Professor Anya O. Anya, reiterated the theme of the 15th Nigerian Economic Summit which is focused on: "Scorecard of Nigeria's Economic Progress: Bridging the Implementation Gap". He stated that Nigeria's major handicap is that it does not know what to do with science and technology. No country has been able to develop unless science and technology is given its rightful place. In fact science and technology should be regarded as the engine of growth which is expected to drive Vision 20:2020.

The facilitator, Tunde Arogunmati, presented a paper titled, "Harmonising science, technology & politics for a sustainable future". According to him building a prosperous national economy is a priority obligation of any progressive government. This goes hand in hand with achieving sustainably higher living standards and fulfilling relevant social responsibilities. Research, innovation and technological advancement are necessities.

However, in his words sustainability is not all about technology, it is about attitude, so even as science and technology are crucial means to tackling day to day challenges, the right policies and incentives are required if they are to have the desired impact.

Key recommendations to business and industry are that it should work with the public sector to ensure sufficient financing of potentially viable technology, collaborate with academia and researchers to connect invention and innovation and be transparent about the risks and benefits of technologies.

Scientists should be encouraged to communicate better with the public, and a role should be preserved for basic fact-finding research.

He recommended: the establishment of a balanced approach to science education that involves all stakeholders in an accountable, fair and transparent way; Linking science and technology directly to the reduction and elimination of a majority of the nation's pressing problems; educating the public, policy makers and the media about the valuable role science and plays in everyday life;

 

Contributions

Prof Akin Akindoyeni of CORBON, advised that technology should be applied to promote technology. He advocated the immediate application of science and technology in areas where it will have the most impact on the economy of Nigeria. Kyari Bukar of Valucard Nigeria, cited the example of how through visionary leadership, HP developed the highly successful ink cartridge. In his words, "don't stop at the boundaries, push the boundaries."

In his own contribution, Bonny Alams, Editor in Chief, Science and Tech Digest Magazine, suggested addressing the lack of strategic, systematic thinking in the science and technology sector. He expressed his unhappiness, as a science journalist, that the media is not doing enough to promote science and technology. He noted that in the area of Intellectual property rights, it was quite alarming that since its inception NOTAP has not registered up to 100 patents.

Tunde Adegbesan, Geoscience Consulting, advised on the need to link up with the office of Senior Special Assistant to the President on MDGs. He brought up the need for the creation of the office of a special adviser to the President on science and technology.

Mazi Sam Ohuabunwa, Chairman, Nigeria Economic Summit Group, reminded the audience that advocacy in previous years is what led to the establishment of the FMST. In his words, has the ministry met the expectations of the stakeholders? He expressed his support for the establishment of a national science and technology fund which he advised should be domiciled under the Nigeria National Merit Award.  He advocated that it would be more practical to include scientists and technologists into the Presidential Management Team rather than creation of a Science and Technology advisory team.

 

Responses

In response to some of the contributions from members, the facilitator advocated setting up of a special purpose vehicle for driving innovation for economic development. He stressed the need for the scientific community to be more strategic as decisions are driven based on economic realities.

Chairman in his response, reiterated the fact that there is a wide gap between the research lab and the market where research outputs will be used, noting that it is the public sector that must fill that gap. In particular he noted that the private sector is only ready to invest when profitability is assured. He recommended the need for policy options to facilitate the linkage between research results and commercialization.

In addition he stressed the need to address funding and the organizational structure in the management of science and technology.

NES #15 Science and Technology Policy Commission

OBSERVATIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS

Observations

 

  • ·        There is a need for demand driven research resulting in:

Innovation to resolve pressing problems identified in society.

developing products and services from prototype to market.

 

  • ·     A funding arrangement is required in the new environment, as well as the political will and backbone to produce the desired results.

 

 

Recommendations

                                                 

  • ·     Government should establish a National Science and Technology (Innovation) Fund to support market oriented research; it may be desirable that the fund should be managed by the Nigeria National Merit Award.

 

  • ·     Venture capital base derivable from the private sector to commercialize such innovative products should be established.

 

  • ·     The National Office for Technology Acquisition and Promotion (NOTAP) should be revitalized and strengthened to act as an effective clearing house to protect patentable ideas and intellectual property and to protect the national interest in matters of technology transfer.

 

  • ·     For trans-sectoral optimization of economic development, there is a need to review quality assurance processes to test newly developed products before they get on the open market.

 

  • ·     We should also use technology to promote the self funding of public facilities.

  •     Scientists and technologists are to be included in the Economic Management Team of the Presidency so as to strengthen and ensure that programs for economic development of the nation are science and technology (knowledge) driven to enhance innovation.

 

 

MORE ...Connect, Engage and Network with the Nigeria Science and Technology Group Nigeria's Science and Technology (S&T) Group with focus on three crucial areas of Biotechnology, ICT, and Research & Development

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Comments

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January 28, 2010

 

James Sani of Kaduna, Kaduna state, Nigeria says:

 

 

Interesting. How does one contribute to this policy commission? It is a wonderful initiative.

 


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