Sweden is set to assist Nigeria in the area of capacity building of Nigerians on science, technology and innovation (STI).
The Swedish ambassador to Nigeria, Carl Grans, made this known when he paid a courtesy visit on the director-general of the National Office for Technology Acquisition and Promotion (NOTAP), Dr. DanAzumi Ibrahim at the agency’s headquarters in Abuja, saying the capacity building initiative of the consulate to Nigerians had become necessary in order to meet up with the fast-changing dynamics of world economies occasioned by technological advancements.
He disclosed that the consulate had undertaken capacity building workshops for different organizations in Nigeria including the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) with the support of Ericsson, the largest Swedish company operating in Nigeria with a staff strength of 230, pointing out that about 35 Swedish companies are operating in Nigeria at present with the attendant value addition to the economy in terms of knowledge and infrastructure.
The envoy said he was in NOTAP, which he described as a very important organization to learn about its activities. While commending it for its efficient regulatory role which has created the enabling environment for international businesses in Nigeria, he called for enhanced support towards Swedish businesses in Nigeria.
Earlier in his remarks, the NOTAP boss said the organisation was established by government with a mandate to regulate the inflow of foreign technology and promote the development of indigenous technologies.
He decried the present situation in the country whereby over 90 per cent of the technologies that power the economy are imported, saying no nation aspiring to be economically independent should fold its arms and allow that to continue to be the case. To reduce the nation’s dependence on foreign technologies, he pointed out that the agency initiated several programmes like the NOTAP-Industry Partnerships to provide the much needed synergy between the academia and industry that would lead to research and development (R&D) and by extension the development of products and services.
Ibrahim said in advanced nations, most of their researches are being sponsored by private companies because of the strong synergy between the academia and industry.
“There must be a deliberate effort to see our private sector and the academia work together. The advanced world has a strong synergy between the academia and industry which has led to the development of products and services and that is what we want in Nigeria,” he said.
Ibrahim noted that the agency’s intervention in strengthening research activities in Nigeria had led to the institution of the NOTAP-Industry Transfer Fellowship (NITTF) being sponsored by private companies to train intelligent Nigerians with master’s degree to PhD level who will in turn provide the much-needed manpower for technology development in Nigeria.
He added that 15 candidates had so far been enrolled in the scheme sponsored by companies like Nestle Nig. Plc, Airtel Networks Nig. Ltd, Friestland Campina WAMCO, Julius Berger Plc, PZ Cussons Plc, Promassidor Nig. Ltd, Nigerian Breweries Plc, Dufil Prima Foods Ltd and Procter & Gamble.
He further said under another partnership with industry, PZ Cussons Nigeria Plc had committed N115 million for the upgrade of three chemistry laboratories at Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University, Bauchi, Alex Ekwueme University, Ndufu Alike Ebonyi State and National Research Institute for Chemical Technology (NARICT) Zaria respectively, pointing out that the positive impact of the upgrade of the three laboratories was acknowledged by PZ research team when they visited the facilities and this encouraged the company to further commit the sum of N360 million for the upgrade of six additional laboratories, one in each of the six geo-political zones of the country.
He expressed appreciation to the ambassador for his visit, saying the agency would continue to support any foreign company willing to do business in Nigeria within the ambit of the law, adding with the ongoing automation process of its technology transfer registration process which is about 90 per cent completed, the office was geared towards enhanced service delivery.
A statement by NOTAP’s head of public relations and protocol unit, Mr Solomon Nshem, said the ambassador was accompanied on the visit by the embassy’s director in charge of government and industry relations, Mr Peter Olusoji Ogundele.