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FG harps on effective RDI coordination for sustainable development

Chief Uche Nnaji, the Minister of Innovation, Science, and Technology, has stressed the need for effective Research, Development, and Innovation (RDI) coordination for economic prosperity, societal well-being, and sustainable development of the country.

Nnaji made the call on Monday in Abuja at the opening of the National Research, Development, and Innovation (NRDI) Coordination Summit.

The conference was organised by Research for Impact Knowledge Economy and Sustainable Development( RIKE SD) in collaboration with the West and Central African Research and Education Network ( WACREN),  Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office, and RDI Coordination.org.

The minister said that the theme of the gathering, “Advancing Nigeria’s Global Competitiveness Through a Resilient National RDI Coordination,” was not just a statement but a clarion call.

Nnaji said that the government was poised to reshape the future of the country by unleashing potential through unified RDI coordination.

He said that the conference was a pathway to redefine and reposition Nigeria on the global map of innovation, science, and technology.

“In today’s rapidly evolving world, the pace of technological advancements is not just fast; it is exponential.

“Nations that have recognised and harnessed the power of research, development, and innovation are leading the charge towards economic prosperity, societal well-being, and sustainable development.

“It is time for Nigeria to take its rightful place among these nations,” he said.

According to him, to achieve this, we must first acknowledge that our RDI ecosystem requires robust coordination, one that is resilient, inclusive, and forward-thinking.

“Our goal is to create a system where academia, industry, government, and the community not only interact but thrive together, fostering an environment ripe for groundbreaking innovations.

“Our vision for Nigeria is to become a hub for African innovation, contributing significantly to the global knowledge economy,” he said.

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According to him, this can be achieved by implementing a three-pronged approach, which includes strengthening institutional frameworks, fostering public-private partnerships, and investing in human capital.

He said that it was imperative to build and strengthen the institutional frameworks necessary for effective RDI coordination.

“This includes policy reforms that incentivize research and development, protect intellectual properties, and facilitate the commercialization of research outcomes.”

While giving further explanation on fostering public-private partnerships, Nnaji said the collaboration between the public sector, private industry, and academic institutions was crucial.

“By fostering partnerships that leverage the strengths of each sector, we can accelerate the translation of research into market-ready solutions that address our most pressing challenges,” he said.

He said that investing in human capital was also crucial to the development of the nation.

“At the heart of any successful RDI ecosystem are the people. Investing in education and training to build a skilled workforce ready to navigate and lead in the Fourth Industrial Revolution is non-negotiable.

“We must nurture our young talents and provide them with the platforms to excel and innovate.

“Ladies and gentlemen, the journey to enhancing Nigeria’s global competitiveness through resilient RDI coordination is a collective endeavor,” he said.

According to him, it requires commitment, collaboration, and a relentless pursuit of excellence.

“As we deliberate over the course of this summit, let us be guided by the principle that our unity in purpose and action is our most significant strength.”

The Chief Strategy Officer of WACREN, Mr. Omo Oaiya, said that the network focused on pan-African initiatives to strengthen open science in Africa.

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“As part of that, we are also working with countries in different events like this to drive cooperation and collaboration so that we can reap the benefits of such an endeavor.

“So, RIKE SD is our local facilitator here. But between both of us, we’ve been able to create a new impetus in the Nigerian RDI coordination space.

“The main goal of this activity is to bring the different RDI actors together to look at a way of co-creating a future that we can build on.

“We are trying to align this with the presidential priorities that have been announced and the Renewed Hope Agenda,” he said.

Oaiya said the essence of the summit was to bring international connections to support activity within Nigeria to drive RDI forward.

The Global Impact Lead, RIKE SD, Dr. Mustapha Popoola, said the essence of the summit was to enhance RDI coordination.

According to him, RIKE SD is a Nigerian non-profit organization that has a pan-African scope.

“We are the first research as a service organisation in Nigeria that is looking at taking research, development, innovation, outcomes, and output from Nigeria to other African countries.

“For the first time, we know that for us to have results based on the directive of Mr. President, we should actually institutionalise the use of research and development outcomes in ministry agencies and departments.

“It is important for us to get coordinated and know what we can offer.

“We are using an approach—we call it a pentagonal nexus—whereby the government is going to be working alongside industry and academia.

And, at the same time, we are focusing on the communities that are going to use those outcomes of research at the community level,” he said.

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The President-elect of the of the Nigerian Academy of Science, Prof. Abubakar Sambo, said the summit was expected to look into the eight areas of the Renewed Hope Agenda.

“It will bring out how research and development, and in particular science, technology, and innovation research, can be used to significantly impact those eight areas of Mr. President.

“It is to bring up what needs to be undertaken to boost the development of the country through programs that involve research, development, and innovation, as well as through policymaking.

“It is very important for the MDAs to incorporate in their yearly programs aspects that will be boosted through the outputs of research, development, and innovation activities,” Sambo said.

Also speaking, Dr. Shabihul Hassan, Chairman, Tech India Ltd., said that the whole concept of research, development, and innovation was collaboration.

“We have been connecting and collaborating with intellectuals and members of the public and private sectors to see how we can foster growth in the agri-sector, in the health sector, in the power sector, and in the infrastructure sector.

“The key is teamwork. This is teamwork within the country, outside the country, collaborating nationally and internationally, and collaborating between the public and private sectors.

“So the private sector sets the way; it sets the standard. The public sector competes. The public sector also becomes competent, equally competent. So it’s collaborative work.

“The purpose of conferences like this is to bring people together, especially intellectuals, people with knowledge, different backgrounds, and different countries. And that is the key to development,” he said. (NAN)

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