Knowledge is the pathway to technology and innovation
6?s with Dr. Umar Bindir, Director General, National Office for Technology Acquisition and Promotion.
How accessible is the NOTAP Industry Technology Transfer Fund project to the Nigerian youth when launched?
It is based on availability. We have three industrial giants. We will continue to plead with them to partner with us. We are not begging anybody. We are just trying to create a national system of innovations. Partnership between the academia, industry and people has to happen. Therefore if we have scholarship from the industry, we will transparently be advertising this on the papers for people to go to our website to put their own intentions. These intentions will be addressed by transparent, high and synergised calibre of people from academia, industry and the people. My dream is that with more effort it will mature and become a national strategy.
How can we sustain the project?
Project of this nature can only survive if you have viable partnerships. Somebody has to start it. As you can see, we have got the universities, research institutions and so many industrial representatives on board and I am sure you have not heard anybody going against the programme. It is the consolidation, synergy and partnership of networks that will make sure that this is sustained. Most especially in NOTAP, we must work very hard to make sure that even when we change baton, people who take over must continue to get the stakeholders working together.
How can knowledge be transferred into the development of indigenous technology?
The bottom line is that technology evolves from the use of knowledge. Knowledge has to be transferred to become technology that is applicable in the industry. Nigeria has infrastructure and research institutes, it is for us to take the bull by the horn to ensure that the knowledge that is coming out from this institution is exactly the knowledge that we need. And we ought to invest further to make sure the knowledge transformed into technology then take it to the market. This is the way we can ensure that people who go to the universities do not only get jobs but should develop our industries in a sustainable manner.
How do we move from a developing country to an emerging country?
A developed country is a country that solidly depends on a viable, functional and highly standardized knowledge system. When you look at economies in the developed countries, they are economies that are knowledge based. They are economies that are riding on knowledge. Their universities are very good. Their researchers are doing things that industry requires. Their academia is link very smoothly with industries. Therefore if we want to emerge as an economy that is modern, competitive, highly respected and visible, we must ensure our knowledge system matures to the levels we see in other countries.
What can be done to make our local products (Igbo Made Brand) viable?
The Igbo Made Brand literary without being sentimental is associated with low quality. To compete in the current global economy dynamics, you have to produce quality things that can sell at the right price. For you to be able to do that you must have knowledge, infrastructure, people who are honest, committed and people who are prepared to use world class raw materials and skills to produce things. Therefore to transit from Igbo Made materials to world class materials, we must be able to ride on our knowledge and build our own manufacturing sector to the highest level.
How do we turn our STI into commercial value?
The STI starts from the knowledge side where universities, polytechnics and research institutes are the main engine of producing people. These institutions have to transform in research and development for the knowledge that we require at the highest level. The same facilities must also evolve as industrial facilities. They must produce products of the highest qualities that can compete. They must also have a pattern for synergy, negotiation, partnership, nationally and internationally. This is what world class universities do. Therefore, we cannot avoid doing that and be able to play international.
How can we bring the existing Ph.D holders and professors into this programme?
From our history from colonial days, I think we have over-spent time on literacy education. In the colonial times, colonial people took us through education literarily to learn the rudiment of how to speak, write, respect people and keep files and records and the rest. We have dwell too much time on this to an extent that even when you get Ph.D, professorial level, it is still at the literary level to the extent that it has turned into a chieftaincy title. We must make sure people are going to universities to study agriculture because they know they have a role in farming. People are going to study engineering because they can come out to ensure we have facilities like power, road, house and clean water and so and so forth.