By Emmanuel Nduka
Nigeria’s Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Timipre Sylva has commissioned the Technology Incubation and Innovation Centre of the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB) and formally launched the US$50 million Nigerian Content Research and Development Fund.
Sylva performed both tasks at the second edition of the NCDMB R&D Fair and Conference held on Thursday at the Nigerian Content Tower, Yenagoa, Bayelsa State, with the theme “Creating Sustainable Collaboration in Research and Development for the Energy Industry and its Linkage Sectors.”
The Minister who was represented by the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Petroleum Resources, Nasir Sani Gwarzo, affirmed that the Research and Development Fund would be applied in the establishment of Research Centers of Excellence, Funding support for Research Commercialization, Funding support for Basic and Applied Research and Endowment of professorial chairs in universities and research institutions.
According to Sylva, Nigeria spends only about 0.2 percent of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) on Research and Development, as compared to developed nations that spend between 2.5 to 4 percent of their annual GDP and developing nations that spend between 0.7 and to 1.2 percent.
While noting that Nigeria’s overdependence on foreign supplies is traceable to underfunding of Research and Development, he encouraged oil and gas companies and other private sector players to embrace investment in R&D as a key component of their business model, and to complement the Nigerian Content Research and Development Fund.
Speaking shortly after commissioning the Technology Incubation and Innovation Center which is located within the Nigerian Content Tower, Sylva stated that the centre will serve as a platform for idea generation, incubation and acceleration of innovative ideas to the marketplace.
Underscoring the point that Research and Innovation ecosystem thrive better with strong collaboration between Government, Industry and the Academia, the Minister reconstituted the Nigerian Content Research and Development Council (NCRDC) which consists of delegates from the three key groups.
The NCRDC which offers policies that shape the direction of NCDMB’s research interventions, has membership drawn from the Petroleum Technology Association of Nigeria (PETAN), Oil Producers Trade Section (OPTS), Petroleum Contractors Trade Section (OPTS), National Universities Commisison (NUC), National Board for Technology Incubation (NBTI) and the National Office for Technology Acquisition and Promotion (NOTAP).
Earlier, Executive Secretary of the NCDMB, Engr. Simbi Wabote, emphasised that Research and Development is pivotal to the growth and development of any nation, and that it plays a crucial role in opening new chapters of modern life.
He expressed regret that African nations accounted for less than one percent of the global R&D spend, with the continent’s aggregate GDP accounting for only three percent of the global GDP.
“There is a nexus between the spend on Research and Development and economic prosperity. It is time to start to nurture the growth of our home-grown technology rather just being a wholesome consumer of other people’s innovation,” the NCDMB boss noted.
Engr. Wabote noted that another reason the Board is focusing energy on Research and Development, is because it is one of the six parameters which are essential for sustainable Local Content practice.
He further noted that the NCDMB is promoting Research and Development in the oil and gas industry because it is in line with the provisions of the Nigerian Oil and Gas Industry Content Development (NOGICD) Act of 2010, adding that R&D is a major feature of the Board’s 10-Year Strategic roadmap which seeks to increase the level of Nigerian Content in the oil and gas industry to 70 percent by 2027.
“The authors of the Nigerian Oil and Gas Industry Content Development Act of 2010 recognized the importance of Research and Development and included key provisions in the Act. Specifically, Sections 36, 37, 38, and 39, of the NOGICD Act are dedicated to promoting Research and Development.
“The 10-Year Roadmap consists of five pillars and four enablers. The pillar on Technical Capability Development contains initiatives to further drive the delivery of Research and Development in oil and gas industry. The enabler on research and statistics cover the initiatives required to conduct research in key areas to generate new evidence to address industry knowledge gaps and operational challenges,” he added.
Wabote also hinted that the Board would soon embark on a roadshow to showcase its Research and Development initiatives to the various stakeholder groups, including universities in the country which represent a key constituency.
He said the Board was set to move fully into the implementation phase of its initiatives to derive better results from the intellect of Nigerians in the academia, research institutions, and technology hubs.
In the same vein, Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Mallam Mele Kyari in his goodwill message, assured the support of the national oil company and the entire oil industry to the R&D initiatives being promoted by the Board.
Highlights of the fair featured exhibitions by universities and inventors, technical discussions by academics and stakeholders in oil and gas on strategies for generating demand driven research that would solve practical problems and improve the operations of the oil and gas industry.