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Minister seeks funding of technology sector to lift economy

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Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu

Minister of Science and Technology, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu has said that only adequate funding of the science and technology sector will take Nigeria out of the woods and place it at par with fast developing countries.

The minister, who was speaking in an interview with journalists in Abuja, noted that fast moving countries of the world, have moved out of commodity based, and mono product economies into the knowledge based economy, and are not affected by recession because of this.

According to him, Nigeria is in recession today because it operates a commodity-based mono economy, with petroleum price determined by the international market. He said Nigeria can no longer do those things it used to do when the price of petroleum was over $100 because the price has greatly crashed. He noted that this wouldn’t have been the case if Nigeria was based on knowledge economy like countries such as South Korea which now exports ships, vehicles and telephones as well as other science and technology based products.

One urged Nigeria to spend more on research and innovation in order to move the country into the knowledge economy.

“The nation is behind many countries that were at the same level with us at independence . One country that we can use as example is South Korea. 50 years ago, both countries depended on commodities. Then for us, it was agricultural produce. The same for South Korea. Because we didn’t pay attention to technology and South Korea did…. For example now, they spend about 4.2 per cent of their GDP on research and innovation whereas we spend 0.22 per cent by World Bank data”.

Speaking on the efforts of the ministry to make sure there is a change in the situation, the minister said efforts are being made to institutionalize the National research and Innovation Council to fund science and technology initiatives.

“Along with that is the National Research and Innovation Fund. For 30 years that the Science, Technology and Innovation policy has been in existence, they never held a single meeting. But during the presidency of Muhamadu Buhari, the first meeting held last year. We were able to hold three meetings last year. This year we have held another meeting. With that Council is the Fund and that Fund is very important because all nations that pay attention to science and technology don’t fund their projects only through the budget. They use extra budgetary means to fund their projects”, the minister said, adding that with the Fund in place, science and technology initiatives will enjoy better financial attention.

He added that the ministry recently identified 56 inventors from the six geo political areas of the country; and they were given some financial backing for their projects.

As for the inventors that were recently identified at the just concluded Technology and Innovation Expo, the minister said they would be assisted through the National Office on Technology Acquisition and Promotion (NOTAP), to obtain patent for their works.

“In the meantime, all these innovations and inventions that have gotten to the level of commercialization, we are going to use NOTAP, the National Office on Technology Acquisition and Promotion to help them in protecting their intellectual property through patent. Because usually you need money to apply for patent and you need lawyer. And some of them may not have the money. There are many other things we can do for them”, the minister said.


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