By Saheed Ibrahim
The Minister of Communications, Innovation and Digital Economy, Dr Bosun Tijani has challenged Nigerian varsities to leverage on technology in finding solutions to the myriads of challenges bedeviling the country.
He noted that Nigeria cannot prosper if the nation’s tertiary institutions cannot provide new insights and knowledge to solve her challenges.
He insisted that the academic institutions must mainstream innovations the country needs, play greater roles in economic development and technological advancement, underscoring the need for universities to collaborate with government and private institutions to bring to fruition the needed development.
The Minister spoke while delivering a lecture in Akure, titled: “Knowledge and Research, The Foundation of A Prosperous Economy.”
The Minister added that institutions must be breeding grounds for technology developers, noting that it is the role of institutions to also mainstream diversity and inclusion.
The PhD holder in Innovation and Economic Development from University of Leicester said, “There is only one way to solve Nigeria’s problems. We must generate new insights to be able to address them and these insights can only come from academic institutions,” he stated.
While noting that Nigeria’s GDP contributions are categorized under three sectors which are industry, agriculture and services, the technology expert noted that several areas to grow her economy are having stunted growth, flat or declining, including the education sector.
He attributed the development debacle to inadequate application of new knowledge and insights to grow every sector.
“The only solution for all these problems is for knowledge to be generated, applied and used in ways to create opportunities. The solutions to our problems lie within the academic institutions,” he stressed.
Tijani identified that Google, Facebook, VMware, Yahoo, Internet and other technological innovations are products of academic institutions.
While saying there may be certain limitations that can deter researchers and students from taking over production of knowledge and inspire change, he said Nigerians must look beyond their challenges to the possibilities of creating a future they desire, with partnership and leveraging opportunities.
Highlighting how to implement an idea, the Minister highlighted the need to begin with a clear purpose to make meaning, understand how and why the change needs to happen and expand, grow and learn.
“A prosperous economy needs builders,” he concluded.
Speaking on the 3MTT initiative to train three million technical talents in a couple of years to boost digital economy and become a net talent exporters, he said if 30 percent of those trained can become real engineers that can solve problems, Nigeria will grow for good.
He revealed that Ondo State currently has about 14,000 applications for the 3MTT programme.
He added that his Ministry will work with universities and other academic institutions to drive technological change in Nigeria for the nation’s economy to grow.
Also present were the Minister of State Youth, Ayodele Olawande, Ondo State Director General of Performance and Project Monitoring Implementation Unit (PPIMU), Babajide Akeredolu, among others.