The Senior Special Adviser to the President on Industrialization, African Development Bank, Prof. Oyebanji Oyelaran-Oyeyinka has expressed concern about the country’s weak engineering system.
He said Nigeria’s Research, Development and Innovation (RDI) is affected by lack of funds and upgraded technology, as well as coordination and learning between organisations.
Oyelaran-Oyeyinka said this recently, at a public forum with the theme ‘Engineering as the Key Facilitator of National Development Policies and Strategies for Incoming Administration’, in Lagos.
He listed other challenges to include lack of qualified personnel and physical infrastructure to support innovation; too many abandoned projects and failed industrial initiatives,
According to him, “there is lack of specialised infrastructure for Research and Development (R&D) and product development. There are also too few engineers, scientists and other researchers.”
He stressed the need for the credibility of government’s commitment to industrial policies, ease and cost of doing business, enforcement of anti-corruption laws, ensuring security through defending industrial and economic assets, among others.
In his paper titled, ‘Harnessing Nigeria’s Engineering Capabilities’, he said state capacity is meant to promote R&D, academy-industry exchange by encouraging channels of learning, such as joint publications, mobility of scientists and engineers, cooperative R&D, public research institutions, support universities in producing engineers and scientist that feed the industrial system.
The special adviser also expressed concern that the capacities are either weak or moribund through underfunding and mismanagement.
The former President, West African Federation of Engineering organisations, Otis Anyaeji in his paper, ‘Manufacturing: Engine of Economic Growth’, expressed concern that Nigeria has failed to diversify the economy to make it self-reliant through investment in capital goods production and the development of the engineering infrastructure.
He called for the restructuring of the productive base of the economy to reduce the country’s inordinate dependence on imported products through building in-country capacity for manufacturing capital.
“Sustainable industrialisation requires that the country develops the capability to produce the necessary industrial machinery and equipment with components. To achieve this, it will necessitate the establishment of engineering infrastructure to create a technological base,” Anyaeji, a past President of the Nigerian Society of Engineers (NSE) said.
A Professor of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, Old Dominion University, Norfolk, VA, Ayodeji Demuren, stated that universities and research institutions should be funded to carry out needed research and development.
In his paper, ‘Engineering Technologies: Electrical Power and Battery Energy’, he said government policy should encourage solar cell manufacture, and Lithium-ion battery cell manufacture from locally sourced raw materials, adding that gaps in the energy supply chain should be closed urgently.
A former President, Council of Registered Engineers in Nigeria (COREN), Kashim Ali, who spoke on ‘Mitigating Flooding in Nigeria’, called on governments to strengthen their town planning laws enforcement, as uncoordinated allocation of plots and fraudulent approval of building plans have been implicated in the devastation that many cities have suffered in recent times.