By Emmanuel Elebeke
Science Tech Park has been one of the several projects the Federal ministry of Science and Technology has been championing in Nigeria since 2006. Although the implementation process started in 2007 after a baseline study was conducted across the country, a fully fledged Science Tech Park has yet to berth fully.
The baseline study was conducted to determine the science, engineering, technology and innovation landscape of the country, after which six science parks, one in each geo-political zone was proposed.
However, in 2009, the idea of establishing six Science Parks was changed and the focus shifted to establishing a model Science and Technology Park at Science and Technology Complex, SHETSCO, SHEDA, Abuja. About 79.5 hectres of land was provided for the project.
The model Science and Technology Park is to be replicated by State Governments, universities, the private sector and other interested organizations in the country.
Even with this, the dream has remained a mirage, thirteen years after. And now, Federal government has yet again, commenced the implementation of the Master Plan for the establishment of the SHESTCO Science and Technology Park at SHEDA, Abuja.
Federal government is giving the impression it is ready, saying it has used all these years to do sensitization and create necessary awareness that will make every Nigerian key into the project immediately it is finished.
At least, the minister of Science, Technology and Innovation, Sen. Adeleke Mamora, confirmed this to Brandxposure.ng in Abuja recently. He said the Ministry has used all these years to embark on national and international workshops and other advocacy programmes to sensitize stakeholders, create necessary awareness and enlighten the public on the need for the parks. He listed the stakeholders who needed proper understanding of the Nigerian Science and Technology Park initiative to include Universities and Research Institutes across the country.
According to him, a Science Park has many advantages on the economy, because it Stimulates and effectively manages the flow of knowledge and technology amongst universities, R&D institutions, companies and markets; facilitate the creation and growth of innovation-based companies through incubation and spin-off processes; and provision of other value-added services together with high quality space and facilities.
Minister noted that his Ministry is already partnering with institutions and development partners locally and internationally to assist in the implementation of the SHESTCO Science and Technology Park. The organizations include; the World Technopolis Association, UNESCO, Science Parks and Government of Poland, China Great wall Industry, United Kingdom Science Park Association (UKSPA) among others.
So far the initiative has produced a feasibility report and business plan by UNESCO as well as Master Plan for the project. The park, when completed, would enable Nigeria launch into full industrialization.
The Ministry is collaborating with some Agencies and Universities such as the Project Development Institute (PRODA), University of Nigeria Nsukka (UNN) which already has a functional Science Park and some State Governments that have indicated interest in establishing their own Science Parks in a manner that will be mutually beneficial.
Developing Nations such as China, Singapore, Korea, Malaysia etc, realized how the development and effective management of Science Parks could transform an economy, decided to develop one with spin-off companies running into hundreds and employing thousands of their citizens,
Director General of SHETSCO, Prof. Peter Onyenekwe described the science tech park as the Silicon Valley project, and said with it, the ministry has shown it recognizes the importance of increasing and strengthening the linkage between Nigeria’s government, knowledge/research centres and industry.
He said the complex hopes for the S&T park to create a focal point for building critical mass for infrastructure and expertise that would catalyze and fast-track the commercialization of existing and emerging technologies and research output; foster a robust system of innovation through effective interaction among government, knowledge centre and industry in a corridor of technology that stretches from SHEDA to all part of the country.
‘‘The increased interest in the development of science and technology Parks globally is related to the need to foster a viable innovation led sector as well as the need for a robust research and development base, using indigenous human capital and associated commercialization of technology to accelerate economic development,’’ he noted.