Onu tasks African ministers on science, technology
• Urges varsities to implement 60/40 policy
The Minister of Science and Technology, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu, has admonished African countries to pay more attention to science and technology to enhance the development of the continent.
He made the call during a virtual meeting of African ministers of science, technology, and innovation yesterday in Abuja.
At the meeting, initiated to exchange ideas on best practices on science, technology, and innovation in response to the ravaging coronavirus, Onu said it was important that the collaboration and cooperation among African countries be sustained in order for them to surmount the pandemic
According to him, efforts are being made by Nigeria to provide home-grown solutions to the COVID-19.
He said his ministry had developed a strategy of Prevention, Tracking, Testing, and Treatment (PT3) in the short, medium, and long-term basis for responding to the health challenge.
In the area of prevention, the minister said the ministry had done so much, including the production of specialised equipment for disinfecting public places.
“We have also, in collaboration with Nigerian scientists at the University of Sheffield, United Kingdom, developed an RNA- Swift Extraction kits that are efficient, accurate, and affordable, as they are 20 percent cheaper in comparison to current foreign-produced ones,” he said.
The minister revealed that Nigeria is collaborating with researchers in the United States and preparing necessary protocols to enable her to produce local vaccines for COVID-19.
“We have made impressive progress in unlocking the tremendous potentials in many medicinal plants in Nigeria. The ministry has assembled a panel of experts from the Nigerian Academy of Science to verify and examine claims of possible cures and management of the virus, “ he noted.
Onu urged other African nations to take advantage of the pandemic to intensify and pay more attention to the development of STI, adding that collaboration among African countries would enable the fight against the pandemic to be a huge success.
Onu also informed his counterparts of the current statistics on COVID-19 in Nigeria as of 17th August 2020. Nigeria, he said, had 49, 600 confirmed cases with 36, 834 discharged. While 11,674 were considered active, 977 were confirmed dead.
In another development, the minister urged the Committee of Vice-Chancellors of Nigerian Universities to implement the 60/40 ratio policy in favour of science and engineering courses, to stimulate innovation and economic growth.
Onu gave the charge when he received the Secretary-General, Association of Vice-Chancellors of Nigerian Universities, Prof. Yakubu Ochefu, who paid him a courtesy visit yesterday in Abuja.
The minister also offered to assist Nigerian universities in protecting their intellectual properties through patents, adding that inventors and innovators may be discouraged if their intellectual outputs are not protected.
He said the ministry, in collaboration with universities, would continue to lead the way in ensuring that the Nigerian economy is transformed from resources to knowledge and innovation-driven one.
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