Emma Okonji

Roar Nigeria, a private sector led incubator, situated at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, which recently partnered Facebook under the NG Hub programme, last week, hosted Facebook Stakeholders’ Roundtable, where the need for knowledge transfer in information and communications technology (ICT) discussed.

The roundtable, which was designed for the South east and South-south region of the country, also focused on policy issues, technology commercialisation, academic research, mentorship opportunities and the engagement strategy for the technology giant, Facebook.

The roundtable had the academia, private and government representatives drawn from across eight states of the South south and South east Nigeria, including innovation hub, business leaders, investors, technology community, members of the SSE Angel Network (SSEAN), and other national technology leaders.

The Public Policy Director for Facebook Africa, Ebele Okobi led the team who visited Roar Nigeria Hub for a stakeholder’s roundtable.

Participants were first received by the Vice Chancellor of the University, Professor Benjamin Ozumba, before a brief tour of the Lion Laptop Assembly Plant and the Lion Science Park.

Okobi, in her remarks, appreciated the university management for its effort in creating an enabling environment for innovation to thrive in the academia.

“We realise the critical role of policy in creating an environment that maximises the potential for technology to drive forward economic, social and academic advancement”, she said.

She shared details of some of the partnerships Facebook had launched in Nigeria while stating that the visit was to explore better ways of partnering African institutions and organisations such as Roar Nigeria at the policy level.
The University of Nigeria boasts a lot of firsts in the technology and innovation space, among which are the Lion Laptops being assembled locally in the university, the Roar Nigeria Hub, which is West Africa’s first full-fledged university embedded business and technology incubator, and very recently the Lion Science Park.

Addressing participants, a director of the Lion Science Park, Charles Emembolu, said: “I consider this engagement a milestone in our journey to bring academia to the forefront of technology and innovation advancement in Nigeria. The significance of this roundtable has been the ability to have top level policy makers and influencers from institutions such as Facebook, State Governments, Regional Businesses, Student Leaders, Chambers of Commerce, Investors and Universities discussing research, technology, innovation, commercialisation as tools for national development. It helps us to reimagine Africa.”

The Vice Chancellor said: “In order to restore the dignity of man, we have to make the University of Nigeria the home of innovation in Africa. That is a journey we embarked upon in 2014 and I am happy that global brands such as Facebook are taking note of our efforts.”

The Lion Laptop assembly plant currently assembles affordable laptops and plans to increase local content to 35 per cent, starting from 2019.