Hello @Nke_ise and everyone else, here are the remaining suggestions for improving the R&D ecosystem in Nigeria (presented as problem/solution combinations - continued from my initial post)…
Problem #3 - Misplaced priorities:
While the Federal Government is making commendable efforts in terms of appropriating funding to R&D (N169bn in 2017, N107bn in 2016 & N58bn in 2015), a closer analysis of the micro data for R&D over the last 3 years will reveal significant misplacement of priorities. For example, in the 2017 budget cycle, Yaba College of Technology requested for N293m for R&D from the National Assembly, however, it was only allocated N3.6m representing a 99% budget cut. Whereas, the Federal Ministry of Women Affairs which requested for only N40m for R&D funding was allocated N1.5bn - a 3,760% increase. University of Lagos received only N5m for R&D; University of Ibadan and many other institutions which have adequate research personnel & a bit of infrastructure received zero, zilch from FG’s N169bn allocation to R&D in 2017. See who got what from the R&D allocation
Yaba Cluster Initiative should work with Budget office and NGOs active in the R&D space to utilize Participatory Budgeting tools & best practices for all R&D allocations; this way all MDAs will aggregate inputs on priority areas for research & development from (a.) citizens, (b.) researchers and (c.) industry via (1.) simple online voting and (2.) offline engagement forums for relevant MDAs before figures are inputed into the budget proposal sent to future budgets cycles. This way, we won’t end up with a situation where Ministry of Justice HQTRS got an entire N10bn allocation for R&D whereas Ministry of Science & Technology HQTRS, a measly N1.8bn for research.
Problem #4 - Misappropriation of R&D funds
[High-Level Misappropriation] Another key problem with the R&D value chain in Nigeria is that monies allocated for R&D are NOT actually used for basic, applied or experimental research & development; some are spent on frivolous ‘trainings’, purchase of ‘vehicles’ and ‘construction of administrative buildings’.
[Low-Level Misappropriation] After majority of the R&D priorities have been misplaced, funding misappropriated, un-disbursed or stolen through shell companies at a high level, little funds still gets to real researchers & research companies. Here, unfortunately, a new layer of misappropriation can be observed even among researchers. Quite sadly, many researchers (and in fact, Nigerians generally) do not understand that when you misappropriate N100m put in your care there is an opportunity cost - a cost in terms of the forgone alternative, which, in the case of R&D is a better quality of life many Nigerians would have had if the money is spent on real research.
Yaba Cluster Initiative in collaboration with NGOs in the R&D space should advocate for evidence-based budgeting for R&D at NASS in future budget cycles; this way every of the 220+ MDAs that typically get R&D money will be required to produce a video and/or pdf documentation of research outputs achieved with the previously allocated funds; these documentations should be presented to the relevant committee of the National Assembly during budget review before any money is released for future budget cycles. This way, niggas that get R&D grants will sit up.
Problem #5 - Last Mile Solutions
Despite all the problems with the R&D value chain in the country, there are still a couple of researchers who are doing great stuff, but unfortunately there are no last mile solutions to bring their research outputs to consumers. For example, there is Justus Nwaoga of the University of Nigeria who developed an innovation for manufacturing solar panels (using photo receptors in Mimosa weed), there is Ebenezer Meshida of Afe Babalola University who developed a soil stabilization flux for boosting the life-span of Nigerian roads by preventing potholes before they occur; and many more innovations from professors, undergraduate and postgraduate students.
Yaba Cluster initiative needs to work with international development organizations and local companies to create market frameworks, e.g. a pre-order platform, so when a researcher has developed a working prototype of his/her product, we can put it up on the portal and aggregate orders (you can think of it as a kickstarter for the academia). For some products & services, high-volume preorders can serve as market validation and thus be useful for attracting investors to scale innovations.
Yaba Cluster initiative needs to advocate for capacity building for all key personnel operating in the last mile within the R&D value chain. For example, we can work with National Office for Technology Acquisition and Promotion (NOTAP) to ensure that every university and research institution has at least 15 Certified Technology Transfer Professionals in its Intellectual Property and Technology Transfer Office (IPTTO). For now, many of the staff in the IPTTO offices are civil servants who are neither trained nor enthusiastic about transferring innovations from Universities to the industry.
Stakeholders in the R&D value-chain need to understand that Technology Transfer professionals are to innovations, what trained midwives are to pregnant mothers - without midwives, too many mothers will experience still birth of their babies; its the same with ideas.
Problem #6 - Absence of Consequence Management Frameworks
While there are a many researchers doing good work, broadly speaking, I still see a lot of plagiarized research projects - with no consequence to the perpetrators. Efforts have been made to curb plagiarism in the past; for example, 4years ago, the Committee of Vice Chancellors signed an MoU with TurnItIn to deploy anti-plagiarism solutions across 70+ Nigerian universities. However, widespread implementation of this MoU has not seen the light of the day in many universities for a variety of their internal political pushbacks I will not delve into in this piece.
Yaba Cluster initiative can work with developers to create an open source, web-based anti plagiarism software and provide this for FREE to ALL tertiary institutions in Yaba (and other States later on). At the same time, we should also work with the government to ensure that as a precondition for all cadres of researchers in universities (professors, postgraduate students, undergraduate students) to receive direct R&D funding from the Federal Government, there must be a widely adopted anti-plagiarism software in place in that institution - from any provider of their choice.
Problem #7 - Absence of an R&D culture in the private sector
Majority of the indigenous companies (both established ones and startups) in Nigeria do not yet see a business case for them to set up in-house R&D centers or partner with academic or research institutions to do so. The few academia-industry R&D partnerships in Nigeria are led by foreign companies like SPDC;
Yaba Cluster initiative needs to work with NGOs operating in the R&D space to carry out evidence based advocacy campaigns targeting Nigerian companies; the short term objective of this campaign will be to get up to 500 of the biggest companies and startups to commit 10% of their CSR spend to R&D. This commitment can then be used to directly fund mutually beneficial research initiatives undertaken by ALL cadres of innovators (undergraduates, postgraduates, professors, graduates etc ) within and outside the academic world.
Sorry people it took this long to post…