As Nigeria moves to improve its local content endeavour, the Executive Secretary of Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board, NCDMB, Simbi Wabote, has pointed out that the importance of research and development in this regard, saying it Is pivotal to the growth and development of any nation and evolution of mankind.
Disclosing this at the second edition of the NCDMB Research and Development, R&D, Fair and Conference 2021 in Yenagoa, he said from the days of the cave men to the current age of global connectivity, research and development always played crucial role in opening up new chapters of modern life.
He maintained that R&D led to the first industrial revolution in the 18th Century with the emergence of the steam engines, adding that the discovery of electricity and its application in mass production in the 19th Century marked the era of the second industrial revolution.
The 20th century witnessed the era of the internet with the World Wide Web being the vogue of the third industrial revolution. According to him, “we are in the era of the fourth industrial revolution with cloud computing, Internet of Things, Robotics, Big Data, Artificial Intelligent and many more being the hallmark of the current age. “Once upon a time, it would have been unthinkable that I would be standing here in Yenagoa while conference participants hear and see me live by clicking a link on their devices. Such capabilities were associated with witches and wizards and it could only happen under the cover of darkness. These days, we are more or less taking such capability for granted.” Wabote stated that the fourth industrial revolution had made it possible to order for a private jet from hand phone or see who is at the door while on a business trip. All these are made possible via R&D and the end has not been seen yet.
He said: “There will be more industrial revolutions down the line and the question is why we are not at the forefront of the discoveries or innovate to adapt existing technologies to our needs? “Analysis of global practices of research and development revealed that the combined R&D spend of just five countries makes up 63.5 per cent of the entire global R&D spend.
“These five countries, namely USA, China, Japan, Germany, and India were also observed to have accounted for over 50 per cent of the global Gross Domestic Products.” Africa, on the other hand, accounted for less than one per cent (1%) of the global R&D spend while its GDP is only three pre cent of the global GDP.
There is a nexus between the spend on R&D and economic prosperity. Wabote said it was time to start to nurture the growth of Wabotehome-grown technology rather than being a wholesome consumer of other people’s innovation.
The second reason why NCDMB is focusing energy on R&D is that it is one of the six parameters which are essential for sustainable local content practice.
He highlighted five other parameters, which include an enabling regulatory framework backed with appropriate legislation such as the NOGICD Act and rigorous implementation of the provisions contained therein.
Periodic gap analysis to determine gaps that needed to be closed in areas of skills, facilities and infrastructure such as the monitoring of the level of Nigeria Content in the oil and gas industry.
Structured capacity building intervention to close identified gaps and spur domiciliation of capabilities in-country such as the construction of the NOGAPS industrial parks to domicile manufacturing.
Fiscal and monetary incentives to attract new investments and keep existing businesses afloat as demonstrated in the creation of $350million Nigerian Content Intervention Fund and the various partnerships to develop modular refineries in Imo, Edo, and Bayelsa States as well as the gas-based industries for LPG cylinders manufacturing, gas processing, CNG facilities, methanol plant, LPG terminals, and others across the country.
Creation of access to market to enhance patronage of goods and services generated from established capacities. NCDMB has used various tools such as the Nigerian Content Plan to ensure businesses in-country enjoy the right of first refusal.