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Engineers tasked on innovations to boost nation’s gross domestic product

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Engineers have been challenged to develop innovations that could unleash a $3 trillion Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by 2030 in specific areas such as, agriculture, technology, healthcare, education, and real estate.

The founder of First Atlantic Semiconductors and Micro-electronics, Prof. Ndubuisi Ekekwe gave the charge at the second edition of lectures organised by the Nigerian Society of Engineers NSE, Victoria Island Branch, in honour of the president of the society, Babagana Muhammed.

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Ekekwe who spoke virtually on, “The infrastructures of Nations”, insisted that it is only when engineers are creative, that there could be produced for the nation to rise.

He stated that the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the ordinance of practice for the profession and given engineers the opportunity to build the country by offering services to the expectations of Nigerians.

Ekekwe who specializes in electrical and computer engineering from the Johns Hopkins University, United States, emphasised the need to build infrastructure for the future and ensure inclusive economic growth.

He said: “Over the last 1,500 years, the GDP of nations has been flat because the world wasn’t seeing any significant improvement in the standard of living of the people and the per capita income was decelerating.

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“The world was in a state of economic paralysis because people were just postulating ideas, having solutions to transportation, electricity, water, and other infrastructure problems, but not producing goods and services.”

Ekekwe who was the guest speaker said, “Nigeria has companies that can fix its challenges but for the companies to tackle the frictions, they must have five capabilities – knowledge, entrepreneurial capitalism, capital, land velocity, and labour.

“They are infrastructure upon which great nations are built. It is through improvement in the engineering curriculum and capacity that Nigeria can rise as a nation. Infrastructural capitalism will help build an innovative society. The engineering profession in Nigeria should raise men and women that could help Nigeria get to its state of prosperity.”

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Speaking on the effect of COVID-19 on engineering practice, the Governor of Nassarawa State, Abdullahi Sule, an engineer, explained that the pandemic has greatly affected financing as seen in Nigeria, especially in the manufacturing sector of the economy.

Consequently, he said a lot of modifications have to be made in the entire system of production to adapt social distancing protocols.

He further noted that areas of engineering such as, loading and bagging of raw materials, discharge of the finished products among others, need modifications to avert contaminations.

Sule said: “People who are living in confine areas now have to wear masks and changes have to be made in the entire manufacturing sector. Most of the buildings that we see in Nigeria today, especially public buildings will continue to see cleanliness as you go in, and out of those buildings. We have to incorporate that into our engineering designs. Now that we have seen the effects, we have to prepare for the future.”

The President, Council for the Regulation of Engineering in Nigeria (COREN), Ali Rabiu in his keynote address said the pandemic is affecting governments in terms of plans and policies for infrastructure development as well as management.

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“The issue of development and management of infrastructure will be greatly affected, considering the fact that the development and management of infrastructure in Nigeria are done by foreigners. Government should prioritize its spending for meaningful impact on the economy, development, and investments.”

The attainment of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), he observed depends on the production of sufficient engineering capacities to provide infrastructure and sustainable technology. It behooves the government to adequately engage indigenous engineering professionals in design, supervision, and management of infrastructure and projects in the country.

Earlier, the Chairman NSE Victoria Island Branch, John Audu, lauded the NSE president for his passion in developing the society, describing it as unprecedented in the history of the engineering profession.

He stated that Muhammed’s blueprint has been the legacy upon which the branch is been run to become the most sought after in the profession.

Audu stated that the association has been engaging in community development projects within and outside its immediate environment, supporting health care initiatives and extensive collaboration with industry with amazing results.

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