Harnessing local technology for Nigeria’s economic development

The dawn of a new year, as always, presents an opportunity to take stock of events of the past year and strategise for a more economic productive year activities. Unfortunately, last year was indeed very challenging for Nigerians especially with surging inflation, unemployment, COVID-19 pandemic and insecurity.

In today’s world, complex technology innovation is the biggest sector that generates employment. A look at the Asian Tigers and Asian Combs economy focus implies the demonstration of technology to enhance the stability and sustenance of their economy.

Over the years as a nation we overlook this angle of global capitalist and developmental state core strategy for economic development. For us, the challenges of our country, which include poverty, unemployment, insecurity, corruption, among others, require innovative engineering technology to surmount.

President Muhammadu Buhari has approved and presented the 195-page National Development Plan 2021- 2025, which details the focus of the nation on usage of local technology in crude oil and gas explorations. This as laudable and foremost to economic development.

This also goes with earlier Presidential Executive Order on Science and Technology as well as President Buhari’s directive to the National Agency for Science Engineering Infrastructure (NASENI) to be at the forefront in technology linkage to economic development.

Meanwhile, the amended and signed Financial Act 2021 is empowering NASENI with 0.25 per cent levy on commercial companies, along with the NASENI Statutory Fund of 1 per cent. of the Federation Account. To this end, the pride of our local technology and development of Nigerian economy is not farfetched.

Interestingly, ideas and innovation technology of various areas of interest for Nigeria such as agro-allied machines and equipment for mechanised agriculture, power, energy, health, laboratory equipment, military vehicles, weaponry and ammunition, water infrastructure, construction equipment, ICTs soft and hardwares, solar and wind energy products, automobile parts and many others, can be harnessed with local technology. Security equipment can be manufactured here in Nigeria.

Armoured personnel and bullet proof vests and others are already being produced locally. If this can be sustained, it will help us improve and acquire many more technologies for the development of Nigerian economy, especially, in the energy, security and agriculture sectors.
Agro-allied machines and equipment from that would not just help our farmers to improve their farm mechanisation but will also enable them overcome inequality and develop the potential that exists in the countryside to create economic resilience and sustainability. Other areas our technology can work is helping local farmers in food production and increased productivity.

Meanwhile, linking our raw agricultural produce from primary, secondary and to tertiary manufacturing sectors of finished and semi finished products is a big plus from our home grown innovative engineering technology.
However, the level of optimism about our local technology should be scaled up, as a form of patronage and acceptance.

As we look forward to better economic outing in 2022, we must be mindful of our obligations as a nation. We must charge our policy and decision makers to see the applicability of local technology innovation as part of our strategies to revive the sick economic system of import dependency. For us, this cannot be over-emphasised and we call on all patriotic citizens to remain steadfast in our commitment to upholding our local technology.

Nevertheless, our modest way forward is, first to enhance institutional capacity and strengthen our production in the Nigerian economic system. Second, we must as a nation deliberately seek a paradigm shift in deploying technology, among others, to create jobs, address poverty and empower Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs). This is fundamental if Nigeria’s manufactured products can compete both in local and foreign markets
Third, while we recognise and appreciate the role research institutions play in economic developments, there is no doubt that the enormous task of building a veritable and modern technology system for the country remains unfinished. As a developing nation, we must continue to innovate, incubate, and experiment to enhance our research output to meet local, regional ad global standards and at the same time improve on the requisite skills and capacity needed to adequately fulfil our technology mandates.

Fourth, a comprehensive review of the scientific and technological methodology is needed to fully embrace local contents. These efforts would further flourish our cottage industries and collaboration with relevant stakeholders. As we expect support from federal, state and local governments, we must ensure advocacy efforts to properly sensitise regarding the imperatives of local technology in addressing our economic needs to prevent misinformation, especially, in the political season we are today.

Olamilekan writes via [email protected]

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