Government Increasing Local Content through Technology Transfer
Human and material resources are crucial to the survival of any business but in Nigeria where these resources are of poor quality or unavailable, many companies spend a lot of money to get them from other sources or to improve the existing ones. The poor performance of many Nigerian graduates on the job and their inability to apply the knowledge they gained in the tertiary institutions is a major concern for employers.
For many years, employers and human resources experts had complained that Nigerian graduates were unemployable and that this was one of the reasons for the high rate of unemployment in the country. In order to recruit employees that are fit for specific roles in their organisations, employers have had to invest in the training of their workers.
A study by a group of American companies operating in Nigeria under the aegis of American Business Council stated that training of employees was a major investment for them as over N1.6Bn was expended in the training of workers in 2017. In addition, stakeholders suggested that one of the reasons for unemployable graduates is the minimal or absence of collaboration between industries and universities. The dearth of knowledge in the application of Science and Technology to industry is evident in the number of technologies that are imported into the country.
The National Office for Technology Acquisition and Promotion, an agency of the government saddled with the responsibility of registering all contracts for transfer of foreign technology into Nigeria had lamented that 90 per cent of technology powering the economy are imported. Speaking on the issue, the Secretary to the Adamawa State Government, Umar Bindir, noted that most companies operating in the country sourced their technologies from other countries and tagged it Foreign Direct Investment.
According to him, these technologies are important to their business in the country because of the local dearth of knowledge in Science and Technology. He added that many research findings by Nigerian Tertiary Institutions that could help these companies develop cost-effective technology were not documented.
“The main focus of companies is to use imported technology to develop their businesses and make profits. This is the focus of the industry. But the government considers how to build sustainable institutions, protect the lives and property of people and create wealth. The focus of both parties is to eradicate poverty. We must ensure that people have jobs and are empowered to create wealth,” Bindir said.
He added that if Nigeria aimed to transit to the status of a developed country, the government must invest in knowledge through tertiary institutions. “In other climes, institutions collaborate to develop the economy. Some countries invest five per cent of their budgets in developing the knowledge economy. If we don’t invest in education, we can’t get knowledge,” Bindir added.
The Director-General, NOTAP, Dr Ibrahim DanAzumi, said the realisation of the fact that the nation’s research infrastructure was weak and that the country was losing money through importation of foreign technology made NOTAP to embark on a number of initiatives. One of the initiatives, according to him, is the NOTAP-Industry Technology Transfer Fellowship, which aims to provide academic staff of universities with broad and direct experience of industry to benefit from research and enhance the relevance of teaching.
He added that the programme would stimulate and translate research results to the private sector to develop a sustainable technology based economy and establish appropriate linkages between universities, research institutes and industrial sectors. “If you have a patent without using it, then it is a liability. That is why we need technology transfer. We have to continue to partner with industries to transfer technology for their use,” the NOTAP boss said.
These companies which used to depend on technology sourced from other countries have started looking inwards for cheaper and indigenous
DanAzumi pointed out that NOTAP-industry partnership had also enabled Wamco FrieslandCampina to achieve 10 per cent local content in its dairy production in Nigeria, adding that the livelihood of the rural women in Fulani milk community in Ishien, Ogun State had improved.
The Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, PZ Nigeria, Giannopoulos Christos, said “All the industries require technology to progress. When you continue to bring this technology from overseas, it is not always as relevant to Nigeria’s circumstances. You should try to find something that is relevant in the area where your product is critical.