It appears that both the federal and state governments are beginning to realise that the knowledge economy stands a better chance of lifting the Nigerian economy again rather than the oil windfall.
This is considering the investments the federal government and some of its state counterparts are committing to intellectual property, IP and innovative knowledge hubs in recent times.
National Information Technology Development Agency, NITDA,has made different investments ranging from training the youths on IT innovation, building capacity, to supporting tech start-ups on software or mobile application development.
However, the federal government had come out to categorically state that it was going to build innovation centres, at least one in each geo-political zone. Minister of Communications Technology, Mr. Adebayo Shittu recently reiterated government’s willingness to engender a pervasive ICT knowledge among the youths across the country, arguing that the best and easiest way to go about it was to scatter knowledge factories everywhere in the country. “Our policies are geared towards using Information and Communications Technologies (ICTs) as a catalyst for innovation in every sector of the economy.
“A key part of my road-map is the establishment of new innovation hubs and support for existing ones as Innovation hubs serve as magnets for high-end thinkers and a birth place for ideas and channels for investment.
“They are crucial in the Federal Government’s drive to create jobs, generate wealth and increase revenue. We will keep our promise to create new hubs across the country and strengthen existing hubs for greater effectiveness. We are conscious of the need to support these hubs by creating a virile ICT Innovation Ecosystem within the country”.
Adebayo was speaking in Delta state, during the official unveiling its innovation Hub in Asaba, the state capital recently.
His promise tallied with the hint dropped earlier by Vice president Yemi Osinbajo, at the second Foundation Lecture of the Elizade University in Ilara-Mokin, Ondo State recently.
Osinbajo said that “this year, we are establishing technology hubs across the country. Two super hubs in Abuja and Lagos and 6 regional hubs in the six geopolitical zones. In partnership with several technology companies the hubs will be fully resourced with infrastructure and capacity building”,
Meanwhile the idea has excited many Nigerians who believe that if properly executed, the hubs would reactivate the economy and place Nigeria on the top list of strong world economies.
However, they also warned that should government pay lip service or play politics with any promise that has to do with knowledge or capacity building, it would lose the confidence and participation of the youths in nation building – a risk that could lead to stunted growth and whittle down the influence of Nigeria in Africa and the world.
An indigenous app developer, Patrick Unongo said: “I am very excited to hear about government’s plans to build innovation hubs across the country. That would be the best thing this government can do for itself and the entire Nigerians because it has the capacity to create employment, wealth and reactivate the economy at the same time. But if they play politics with it, the youths would lose interest in nation building and that is a risk capable of also reducing Nigeria’s influence in Africa and the world” he added.
Meanwhile, while the federal government is putting finishing touches to the plan, Delta state has become proactive on the issue build by building a world-class cluster of Intellectual Property (IP) and knowledge factory which it said will secure the future of generations yet unborn in the state.
After officially unveiling the innovation hub recently, Director General of Hub, tagged DS-IHub, Mr. Chris Uwaje said that the state government wants to raise the sum of Ten (10) billion Naira which it would take to keep the hub running optimally for the next three years.
Uwaje, however expressed confidence that the fund would be raised through knowledge endowment strategies and equitably dispensed to transform Delta state and nation from consumers to innovators and creator.
He said the funds were necessary to maintain and retain that knowledge factory with an enabling environment, which was specially designed for originating innovation, building inno-passion, developing creativity and promoting information sharing for building functional new knowledge for the delivery of all-inclusive technology solutions and support services.
“Our faculties includes: e-government, ICT innovation platform, software & auto-card platform, multimedia centre, business process platform, e-library, research & e-learning centre, CBT practice and mentoring centre.” he said.
For the Delta State Governor, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa, the innovation hub signifies a paradigm shift from dependence on revenue from oil to revenue generation from knowledge-based development.
Äccording to Okowa, Delta State Innovation Hub – DS-IHUB, could attain noble heights if we put our minds to work. In moving this project forward, we will rely on the support and patronage of Delta State citizens at home and in the Diaspora, entrepreneurs, the academia, students, industry leaders, stakeholders, and indeed, all friends of Delta State, to ensure that this enviable knowledge venture is not only successful, but significantly beneficial to all concerned and sustainable for generations yet unborn”.