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Aderinola Bunmi

The Minister of Science and Technology, Dr Ogbonnaya Onu has promised to help tertiary institutions establish science Parks to facilitate the diversification of the economy through science, technology and innovations.

Onu made the promise when he addressed participants at the maiden international conference for science parks and Innovation Ecosystem for National Development (SPIE4ND) at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN).

The Minister said the culture of establishing high-tech clusters should be promoted by tertiary institution administrators, adding that the dividends of investment in Science Park would give rise to new business incubators and technology research centres.

Dr Onu, who stressed that no nation would achieve greatness without science and technology, said his ministry was ready to partner and support science and technology innovations geared towards helping the nation transit to knowledge-based economy.

He explained that the science park project would facilitate the creation and growth of innovation-based companies through incubation and spin-off processes, as well as provide other value-added services with high quality space and facilities.

Citing Singapore’s achievement, Onu said history showed that countries with smaller population achieved greatness through science and technology, added that Nigeria with larger population could leverage Science Park to improve its economic growth.

Given that Nigeria is the most populous African country, Onu said the country should set the pace for science and technology revolution in the continent by harnessing indigenous technology. He hailed the vision of the UNN Vice-Chancellor (VC), Prof Benjamin Ozumba, in conceiving the idea of Science Park in the university.

Onu said: “I assure you that the collaboration between the UNN and the Ministry of Science and Technology would yield positive results that will benefit both organisations mutually and set the pace for development of our country.”

The Minister said the President Muhammadu Buhari administration remained committed to promoting innovation and technology advancement, with the aim of reducing dependence on importation and enhance local content in the production of goods and services.

The VC described the workshop as an effort to restore man’s dignity. He said the school had already taken steps towards building a knowledge-based economy for the country.

According to him, the event aimed at sensitising the academia, researchers, entrepreneurs, government ministries and agencies on the need to acquire skills and training required to build a competitive 21st Century economy.

The VC said the conference was a follow-up to his trips to Sweden to understudy Science Parks’ operations in the country.

He said: “This international workshop is our modest effort to domesticate what we learnt in Sweden and help in creating the needed culture of innovation in our country, Nigeria.”

Professor Emeritus Pius Okeke of Physics and Astronomy Department of the university appealed to the Federal Government to create long-term investment plan in science and technology, saying innovation remains the language of the 21st Century.

The workshop was attended by experts from Sweden, South Africa and Kenya. Also in attendance were representatives of the Federal Ministry of Science and Technology, Ministry for Trade and Investment, Nigerian Army, Nigerian Customs and other parastatals.

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