Over 2,000 years ago it took the Israelites 40 years to move from Egypt to Canaan – about 256 miles. This sounds funny to people of this generation because the same distance can be covered in 40 minutes, thanks to the advancement of technology (aircrafts).
Technology is the application of scientific knowledge for practical purposes. It is said that apart from raw materials, the greatest asset that sustains most countries is technology.
Technology comes in form of military hardware, information and communication technology, farm mechanization, education technology, automated industrial processes, exploration technology (space shuttles), engineering construction (bridges, skyscrapers etc), transportation technology (aircrafts), to name a few.
Sadly, most technology used in Nigeria today is imported; hence, Nigeria owned technology has to fast track.
One of the ways our technology can fast track is by investing massively in research. Nigerian government should establish research institutes to advance technological research.
This institute will have laws guiding their operation and will be allowed to evolve and get a point where its works will be funded by them – like parastatals with periodic government financial intervention. Laws shall be enacted to guide their establishment and operations so that a subsequent government does not scrap them.
Also, Nigerians who have distinguished themselves in technological research and development all over the world will be encouraged to come home and work in these institutes, and will be paid well for their services.
It is disheartening that brain drain has cost our country so much, but our government can take deliberate steps to reverse the ugly trend. Thus, our technology can fast track.
Furthermore, locally owned companies who have distinguished themselves in the areas of local technology advancement should be given grants. State government where these companies operate may allow the companies go for a period of 5 years or more without tax.
This way the companies can channel the huge money they pay in taxes into more research and advancement of technology. When it is noticed that the company is gradually coming of age, government can increase import duties of importers who bring into Nigeria similar goods so as to encourage more Nigerians to patronize the local companies.
The best way to encourage production of goods through patronage, and when turnover is poor, it is enough to keep the industry to be struggling to breakeven or even kill it. Government can also encourage her workers to patronize such companies and get juicy discounts. This will go a long way towards ensuring our technology fast tracks.
Award of scholarship and national recognition are ways of achieving it. Students and lecturers who stood out, not in academics, but in practical design, should be recognized nationally so that young minds will be encouraged and challenged to do better.
Wealthy individuals, non-profits and other companies (in form of Corporate Social Responsibility) should sponsor their education abroad to advance their designs, and on coming home, be shifted into a local industry where they will practice.
Also, Nigerian government through the National Orientation Agency should always encourage Nigerians to design new things and when they succeed, they should proceed to the agency for national recognition and award of prize money. This certainly will help.
One other way our technology can fast track is by strengthening our schools. Youth’s enrolment into vocational and technical schools should be encouraged. Those schools tend to be losing their relevance because Nigeria moved from technical knowhow to academics.
It is rather sad that most people finish from universities as computer scientists but cannot write computer programs. A story was told of how a computer scientist could not connect and boot a set of computer. This is disheartening, and we cannot be fair to blame him because he is a product of a dysfunctional school system.
Lecturers in government schools often complain about how their research does not get government funding, whereas U.S. Government through the National Research Foundation funds the research of even “private schools.” So we need to retrace our steps to get our acts right.
Also, Nigerian government has to enforce local content laws. One major problem in Nigeria is poor law implementation. All foreign multinational companies in Nigeria must allow Nigerians work in their management team as a precondition for allowing them operate. This way Nigerians will learn from them. Local content is mainly implemented in oil and gas sector and must be extended to other sectors.
In conclusion, if all this is implemented to be letter, I believe our technology will fast track and it lies mainly on government. Fast-tracking Nigeria owned technology is important because it will create jobs for our teeming unemployed youths, boost our economy and make our country one to reckon with in the committee of nations.