Nigeria has been described as a country lagging behind its peers in terms of technological innovation.
The Chief Executive Officer of MainOne, Funke Opeke, made the disclosure, while presenting a paper, themed “The Role of Electronic Devices and Instrumentation in National Development,” which she delivered at a public lecture of the Department of Electronic and Electrical Engineering, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Osun State, recently in honour of Professor Lawrence Kehinde and Professor Gabriel Adegboyega, that retired from the department recently.
Opeke, stated that despite possessing a large pool of lecturers who are able to play on the global stage, Nigeria was still scratching the surface in terms of technological innovations. She added that the gap in the department’s capabilities and world-class standard have grown within the past thirty years.
According to Opeke, who was the keynote speaker at the programme and an alumnus of the university, the leadership of the department in i-Labs was a testament to the continued yearning to provide students with relevant laboratory or practical experience in a university environment where funding is no longer available to keep pace with technological developments.
Speaking further at the occasion, which was attended by the Vice Chancellor of the University, Professor Eyitope Ogungbenro Ogunbodede, as well as other prominent scholars, Opeke advocated for partnerships with leading companies, foundations and other research-intensive institutions.
She said the partnerships go beyond transferring knowledge from lab to practice but also provides critical funding for talented faculty and students to pursue foundational research on technologies that can solve local problems.
“These problems include unfavorable climatic conditions, low cost e-learning devices, power, security leading to spin-offs or patents which can be commercially exploited in the immediate market.
“It will also enable students and faculty to exchange ideas with the very best minds inside and outside the academy and, most importantly, help to prepare students to be citizens of a rapidly changing world,” Opeke said.
Opeke charged the government to set up infrastructure, policies, incentives and grants for universities to encourage research and development, facilitate the growth of industry and improve national competitiveness as seen in several developed countries whose tech industry is driven by publicly funded research such as National Science Foundation (NSF) and United States Department of Defense (DoD).