Editorial: It’s time to focus on science and technology for economic development

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In 2019 when the Federal Government decided to close the country’s land border to importation, the reason was to increase local production of agriculture produce like rice and others in order to earnest hidden potentials in the sector thereby increasing Nigeria’s leverage on reducing overdependence on oil and strengthening the agricultural sector of the economy.

Agricultural exports in the fourth quarter of 2019 grew in value by 61.89% compared to the third quarter of the same year. Also, manufactured good exports in the same quarter of the same year also grew by 573.19% than the same quarter in 2018.

Although the country eventually fell into recession, the second in five years due to the global pandemic and its monotonous reliance on crude oil for foreign exchange, there is therefore the need for the government to make concerted and uncompromising efforts to invest in agriculture, transportation, health, engineering, pharmaceuticals, biotechnology and the manufacturing sector.

In the face of the current economic recession, there is the need for the country to think outside the box in order to take the country out of the current economic crisis.

Apart from the need to develop the agricultural sector and its inherent value chain to extract maximum benefit, which the government has been paying lips service to all this while, it is also important to focus on developing the science and technology sector. President Muhammadu Buhari concurred with our belief when he addressed the kidnapped Kankara school boys, he told them to focus their studies on science and technology as that is where the world is focusing on.

With Asian countries like China and Korea aggressively pursue initiatives in major investments in research and development Nigeria has no reason to remain at the back of the back waiting for the next bus. China, since 2015 has upped its investment in science and technology from 10% to 18%. This has increased the contribution of research and development in the county to 60% and it has also reduced its reliance on foreign grounds to less than 30%.

It is good to note that while the Minister of Science and Technology, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu, was defending the budget of his ministry, he said the 2021 budget of the ministry is centered on addressing the various demands of Nigerian youths, employment and wealth creation. He said over 2000 researched products have been in the market place though the National Board for Technology Incubation (NBTI) that has groomed young Nigerian entrepreneurs in micro-level enterprises.

As Nigeria struggles to find a way out of the current economic quagmire, the need for the government to be forward-thinking and focus its attention on developing the science and technology in all areas of the economy is of significant importance. We therefore call on the government to as a matter of urgency provide incentives for all science and technology related industries and innovative across sectors of the economy. This would go a long way to make our economy viable and self-reliance.

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