The Federal Ministry of Science and Technology (FMST) says government is consolidating efforts to adopt Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) in the development of other sectors of the economy.
Mr Mohammed Abdullahi, the Minister of State, Ministry of Science and Technology said this on Thursday at the ongoing three-day capacity building workshop on STI Policy Design and Review Processes: Recent Advances and Methodologies in Abuja.
The workshop was organised by the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) in collaboration with FMST.
Abdullahi said that the STI sector since 2012, had its extant national policy implemented, impacted solar technology development, leather products development, road research, space science technology, among other benefits in science areas of the country.
He said the STI policy had many initiatives, which included establishment of National Research and Innovation Council (NRIC) and the National Research and Innovation Fund.
According to him, the ministry is making efforts to ensure that the different aspects of the policy are driven by Research and Development (R&D).
The minister said the ministry was advocating for a Research and Development (R&D) Bank that would address the challenges of research and its commercialisation for acceptable methodologies of STI.
“The implementation of the STI policy requires creating awareness, developing monitoring indicators, encouraging state collaboration and stakeholders’ participation.
“The STI sub-sector is a catalyst for industrialisation, hence the government resolved to use STI to drive other sectors of the economy.
“To mitigate the challenge of funding, FMST is strongly advocating for the establishment of R&D Bank to close the gap in the absence of venture capitalist to support the commercialisation of research findings,” he said.
Abdullahi said the FMST was part of the National Steering Committee of the National Development Plan Agenda of 2050, where the objectives of the STI roadmap 2017 to 2030 had been advanced.
He said the programme would promote innovation and technology led-industries, create enabling environment for private investments, develop R&D infrastructure that would lead to commercialisation, among other objectives.
He pledged that the ministry would be waiting to implement the outcome of the workshop and urged participants to utilise the opportunity to impact in their ability to be agents of change in the STI sector and boosting of the economy.
Dr Dimitri Sanga, Officer-In-Charge, UNESCO Regional Office, Abuja tasked Nigerian government to adopt new processes and methodologies in STI policy adaptation in line with global standards.
Sanga, who was represented by Dr Enang Moma, the National Programme Officer, Natural Science Sector, said the global COVID-19 pandemic had caused nations of the world to scale up investments in STI ecosystems.
According to him, some nations have leveraged on the pandemic period to mobilise their scientific, social and industrial capabilities by sharing data that enabled their evidence-based decision making.
He decried that the STI ecosystem in many developing countries in Africa were weak or inadequate.
“For STI to work for sustainable development and address ongoing challenges, appropriate STI policy frameworks need to be developed.
“In this regard, UNESCO provides technical advice, methodologies and guidance to governments on the design, monitoring and implementation of STI policies as integral parts of national development policies and plans,” he said.
He recalled that part of their intervention in the STI sector was the regional training organised at Abidjan-Cote d’Ivoire in 2018 whereby Nigeria was in participation to mainstream gender in STI, among other objectives.
Sanga said the present training was a follow up on that of 2018, expected to review current ideas, methodologies of STI policy formulations.
Mr Sunday Akpan, the Permanent Secretary, FMST said that STI was the means to development and economic advancement and Nigeria could not afford to be left out.
Akpan, who was represented by Mr Bassey Mfon, the Director, Chemical Technologies of FMST, said globally, the importance of STI could not be over emphasised, while industry advancement was done through STI and STI would proffer solutions to the challenges in the country.
Mrs Ana Persic, the Senior Programme Specialist, Division of Science Policy, UNESCO Paris said that with COVID-19 and the challenges facing developing countries, there was need to strengthen STI for socio-economic development of vulnerable populations.
“STI is relevant in helping countries achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. We need inclusive STI systems, stakeholders’ engagement and the gender aspect of STI,” she said.
Moma, the National Programme Officer, Natural Science Sector, while giving the overview of the training, said it was organised within the framework of Nigeria-UNESCO project on “Assistance for the Reform of the Nigerian Science, Technology and Innovation System”.
She said that the training would upgrade participants knowledge on STI policy design, review processes, expose them to new approaches for reviewing and mapping STI policy.
The officer also said the training would look at STI for SDGs: UNESCO approaches, STI systems concept and global overview among other areas.