By Cecilia Ologunagba
Nigeria has become recipient of obsolete and misfit technologies, a research carried out by the National Centre for Technology Management (NACETEM) reveals.
NACETEM is an agency of Nigeria’s Federal Ministry of Science and Technology that provides critical knowledge support in the area of Science, Technology, Innovation (STI) management for sustainable development.
In a report made available to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja, the centre said the development was due to reliance of the country’s manufacturing and service firms on imported technologies.
Speaking to NAN on the issue, Dr Abiodun Egbetokun, Assistant Director of Research in NACETEM said a survey was jointly carried out by NACETEM and Centre for Innovation Indicators (CesTII) at the South Africa’s Human Sciences Research Council.
He said the research focused on the innovation performances of Nigeria and South Africa and how the productive sector of the economies of both countries fare particularly in relation to the creation and application of knowledge.
He said findings revealed that both countries use technology acquisition as the key innovation strategy but South Africa used more technology in the manufacturing sector than Nigeria.
“We compared innovation in manufacturing between both countries; we found a slightly higher rate of innovation in South Africa than in Nigeria.
“But, firms in both countries rely on technology acquisition (that is, the purchase of embodied technology through machinery, equipment and software) to innovate.
“In the specific case of Nigeria, most of the technology is imported.
“In the comparison of service firms, the difference in innovation rates between both countries is not noticeable.
“While Nigerian service firms still rely on technology imports, South African firms emphasise staff training as the main innovation strategy,” he said.
The director said both countries used technology acquisition as key innovation strategy to improve the quantity and quality of their value propositions.
He noted that the two countries faced critical financial and other barriers to innovation.
On services sector, the official said the two countries used training and technology acquisition as key innovation strategies to improve the quantity and quality of their proposition.
According to him, the findings of the research show that the Gross Domestic Products (GDPs)of the two countries were stalled in recent years.
The director said there were several reasons why GDP growth rates could be stalled but the most plausible in the case of both Nigeria and South Africa is what economists term “middle income trap”.
“This happens when a country grows rapidly and attains middle income status (according to World Bank classification) but is unable to grow beyond that status.
“Often, what drives the pre-middle-income growth is connected to specific advantages that the country has, for instance in the export market for primary commodities (in the case of Nigeria, crude oil, and in South Africa, gold).
“Due to local wage increases that accompany middle income status, the country tends to become less competitive in the export market and is, at the same time, unable to compete with more advanced countries in the market for finished goods.
“That is the story of Nigeria and South Africa.
“Currently, both countries grapple with poor domestic labour market conditions, evidenced by incessant wage increases, worker protests, large share of workforce in indecent employment, etc among other characteristic middle income trap problems,” he said.
Egbetokun said data from the research was drawn from the South Africa Business Innovation survey (2008) and the Nigerian Business Innovation Survey (2010)
“These are the latest available data. The surveys stopped since then because funding of the NEPAD African Science, Technology and Innovation Indicators Initiative (ASTII) stopped and each country needed to fund its own innovation surveys.
“Unfortunately, NACETEM did not receive funding for the surveys from the Nigerian government until in the 2018 budget year.
“We are now embarking on the data collection process for another round, but any analysis for now will have to rely on the old 2008-2010 data.
“For comparability, we chose 2010-2012 data for South Africa. Other years would have been too far apart between both countries,’’ the director said.
According to him, an innovation survey is normally conducted periodically (typically once every three years) to assess how the productive sector of an economy fares, particularly in relation to the creation and application of knowledge.
“These surveys are useful because they help to identify the strengths and weaknesses of the industrial sector in a country, with a view to designing appropriate policies and structures to initiate and sustain growth.
“Innovation surveys have been carried out in Europe, where they are commonly known as Community Innovation Surveys (CIS), since 1991/92.
“In 1996, South Africa was the first African country to implement an innovation survey.”
NAN reports that the recent research emerges from Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for joint research and training that NACETEM signed with CeSTII in 2017.