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In Science, tech Nigeria still limps despite vision 2020



IT IS a new year, a new decade, and dawn of an era in Nigeria’s science and technology. Given that a nation’s growth and advancement is measured, largely by her scientific and technology attainments the year 2020 offers a base for gauging the expectations and economic advancement technology. Technological breakthrough has made life easier for humanity that we depend on it for everyday life and economic advancement.

Nigeria didn’t feature prominently in the science and technology space as a nation in 2019. What we have is mostly the academic achievement of some Nigeria students in that field for the preceding year. And here we are in 2020, the touted year of vision 2020.

Nigeria is Africa’s biggest economy. The country with its huge economic potential over the years lack sustained and rapid economic growth. In 2008, Nigeria launched the vision 2020 initiative, an articulated long-term intent to launch the country on the path of sustained social and economic progress and accelerate the emergence of a truly prosperous and united Nigeria by recognising the enormous human and natural endowments of the nation.

According to the Vision 2020 economic blueprint, by 2020, Nigeria will be one of the 20 largest economies in the world, improve the living standards of her citizens with a minimum GDP of $900 billion and a per capita income of no less than $4000 per annum, and able to consolidate its leadership role in Africa and establish itself as a significant player in the global economic and political arena.

As some nations have emerged global actors in science and technology, Nigeria still grapples to find answers to basic needs of life. As a nation, we demonstrate our appreciation for technological products by the way we go for the latest products, yet lack the drive to chart the country into global stage.

Science and Technology is central to the attainment of Vision 2020 as it is to development in Nigeria, a key factor necessary to make Nigeria a contender among the big global economic players.

The Federal Ministry of Science and Technology is the government agency mandated to facilitate the development and deployment of science and technology apparatus to enhance the pace of socio-economic development of the country through appropriate technological inputs into productive activities in the nation.

Among the activities of the ministry is the formulation, monitoring and review of the National Policy on Science, Technology and Innovation to attain the macro-economic and social objectives of Vision 2020 as it relates to science and technology.

Over the years, Nigeria gave little or no effort to the development of science and technology, which is the reason the country now trails other developed economies. Every country that has phenomenally transformed her economy has done so by developing her science and technology sector.

In 2019, science and technology witnessed plethora of inventions and discoveries and from those countries are some expected innovations that will drive this year. Among such is 5G network that will change how we handle data. The 5G with its lower latency and faster speeds is set to deliver the greatest wave of innovation since the advent of the internet.

Experts believe that it will add trillions to the global economy with new products, services, and even new business models and industries.

According to Gordon McKenna, CTO of Public Cloud, Ensono, “The impact this will have on our society will be unprecedented – from the explosion of different form factors of devices to the changes to how we view and receive data and the undoubted strides forward in cloud computing in the form of edge computing.

The mainstream use of IoT devices in smart cities and autonomous vehicles combined with 5G will enrich our lives and require a next generation of infrastructure.”

This year could spell the beginning of the end for cancer as the emergence of real-time diagnostics for complex diseases will mark the beginning of the end of their debilitating reign which seemed to appear on the horizon.

Researchers argue that the ability to monitor cancer, the dynamic immune system, intestinal flora and pre-diabetes in real-time will change the nature of medicine and usher in a new era of human health where wellness is protected than treating illness when it manifests.

Experts look excitedly on the 3D printing technology will allow scientists to produce fully functional replacement organs from one’s own cells.  Turning point in the ability to 3D “bioprint” organ tissues, a process that involves depositing a “bio-ink” made of cells precisely in layers, resulting in a functional living human tissue for use in the lab.

For instance, someone living on dialysis machine grows a new kidney using his or her cells or someone that suffers extensive burns has his or her skin regenerated. This will allow broad use of it by pharmaceutical companies that will result in the identification of safer and better drug candidates and fewer failures in clinical trials.

China’s groundbreaking artificial sun project dubbed HL-2M that was constructed by China National Nuclear Corporation is slated to be operational this year. The HL-2M will pave the way for clean energy – similar to the real sun. The reactor is capable of reaching temperature 13 times hotter than the sun. The result is energy that is cleaner and cheaper than current nuclear options, resulting in less toxic waste.

The country also plans to link Asia and Europe with a high speed-speed rail line. The rail line from China to London will pass through 17 countries. On the African continent, Rwanda is to build Green City, the first of its kind on the continent.

More notable is Rwanda taking the shine on advancement on technological innovations with the manufacture of the first African high specification, affordable smart phones made to compete in a market dominated by South Korean and Chinese brands.

The Mara X and Mara Z phones which will use Google’s Android operating system boosts to Rwanda’s ambition to become Africa’s technology hub. Rwanda made it clear in 2007 of the country’s plan to be science and technology hub and it is working hard towards achieving it.  Nigeria’s vision 2020 not even in science and technology has taken root.

Successive government in Nigeria policies pay little attention to Science and Technology. This is evident in the weak display of productivity in the sector. Leadership summersault of policies truncated industrial framework for articulated strategy towards advancing science and technology in the country. No commitment to continuity and when such happens, often they are managed by people whose competence are questionable.

The energy crisis is a monster that the country must overcome to advance science and technology. Epileptic power supply is an aberration to any country’s drive to sustainable economic growth which science and technology plays a huge role. It embarrasses that the city of Tokyo consumes more mega watts of electricity than the whole of Nigeria and on a regular basis.

Ajaokuta Steel Rolling Mill, Delta Steel Company were conceived to pilot the country’s technological revolution, yet decades after they haven’t serve the home market, neither has it exported a sheet of steel but has walloped in decay and entangled in corruption web. Effort to revamp the steel companies will boost the country’s technological aspirations.

Nigeria’s educational system tend to always encouraged theoretical education than the technical, so there is little funding of the schools research programmes spill over to most research institutions in the country. Most secondary schools and institutions of higher learning curriculum are theoretical structured in teaching of the sciences. Most students have no idea what the chemical elements they are taught look like.

Even as the government policies have not accelerated the rapid growth of science and technology, the private sector has not expended much effort and resources in promoting science in schools and its development in Nigeria, but rather chose to spend millions of naira on entertainment promotion with mouth-watering prizes.

As Nigeria aspire to attain scientific and technological heights, the private sector can encourage the speedy growth of the sector by investing in it with the same energy they used in entertainment.

Imagine having a talent show where inventors, innovators, and scientist are discovered every year in Nigeria and their inventions shipped overseas. For once, imagine having millionaire inventors, innovators, and scientists, the economic and political significance it will offer Nigeria on the international scene.

The year is much young, the vision 2020 on science and technology may not be attainable, but concrete effort towards that could begin this year. Everyone has a role to play in the country’s scientific and technological advancement.

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