The Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Chief Timipre Sylva on Thursday commissioned the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board’s Technology Incubation and Innovation Center and formally launched the US$50 million Nigerian Content Research and Development Fund.
The Minister performed these tasks at the second edition of the NCDMB R&D Fair and Conference held on Thursday at the 17-storey Nigerian Content Tower in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State, with the theme “Creating Sustainable Collaboration in Research and Development for the Energy Industry and its Linkage Sectors.”
Represented by the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Petroleum Resources, Mr. Nasir Sani Gwarzo, the Minister stated that the Research and Development Fund would be applied in the establishment of Research Centers of Excellence, Funding support for Research Commercialization, Funding support for Basic and Applied Research and Endowment of professorial chairs in universities and research institutions.
He noted that Nigeria spends only about 0.2 percent of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) on Research and Development as compared to developed nations that spend between 2.5 to 4 percent of their annual GDP and developing nations that spend between 0.7 and to 1.2 percent.
He highlighted that the continued underfunding of Research and Development in Nigeria reflects on the country’s overdependence on foreign goods and services, adding that ”this is unsustainable if we are serious about building a national technological capability that will drive economic growth.”
Sylva encouraged oil and gas operating and service companies and other members of the private sector to embrace investment in R&D as a key component of their business model and complement the Nigerian Content Research and Development Fund.
Commissioning the Technology Incubation and Innovation Center which is located within the Nigerian Content Tower, the Minister stated that the centre will provide a platform for idea generation, incubation and acceleration of innovative ideas to the marketplace.
He said that innovations emanate from creating ecosystems where ideas can connect and charged industry stakeholders and youths to take advantage of the Center to foster adaptation of existing solutions and create new solutions that address major industry challenges.
Underscoring the point that Research and Innovation ecosystem thrive better with strong collaboration between Government, Industry and the Academia, the Minister reconstituted the Nigerian Content Research and Development Council (NCRDC) which consists of delegates from the three key groups. The body offers policies that shape the direction of NCDMB’s research interventions and the membership includes representatives of the Petroleum Technology Association of Nigeria (PETAN), Oil Producers Trade Section (OPTS) and the Petroleum Contractors Trade Section (OPTS). Other statutory members include the National Universities Commisison (NUC), National Board for Technology Incubation (NBTI) and the National Office for Technology Acquisition and Promotion (NOTAP).
The Minister used the event to launch the publications on the Nigerian Content Research and Development Roadmap and US$50m R&D Fund Operating Protocol.
Earlier in his presentation, the Executive Secretary of NCDMB, Engr. Simbi Kesiye Wabote emphasised that Research and Development is pivotal to the growth and development of any nation and play crucial role in opening new chapters of modern life.
He expressed regret that African nations accounted for less than one percent of the global R&D spend and the continent’s aggregate GDP is only three percent of the global GDP. He added that “there is a nexus between the spend on Research and Development and economic prosperity. It is time to start to nurture the growth of our home-grown technology rather just being a wholesome consumer of other people’s innovation.”
He noted that another reason NCDMB is focusing energy on Research and Development is because it is one of the six parameters which are essential for sustainable Local Content practice. Other five parameters for sustainable Local Content development include an enabling regulatory framework, periodic gap analysis, structured capacity building and fiscal and monetary incentives to attract new investments and keep existing businesses afloat as well as the creation of access to market to enhance patronage of goods and services generated from established capacities.
The third reason the Board is promoting Research and Development in the oil and gas industry is because it is in line with the provisions of the Nigerian Oil and Gas Industry Content Development (NOGICD) Act of 2010.
According to Wabote “the authors of the Nigerian Oil and Gas Industry Content Development Act of 2010 recognized the importance of Research and Development and included key provisions in the Act. Specifically, Sections 36, 37, 38, and 39, of the NOGICD Act are dedicated to promoting Research and Development.”
He further explained that Research and Development is a major feature of the Board’s 10-Year Strategic roadmap which seeks to increase the level of Nigerian Content in the oil and gas industry to 70 percent by the year 2027.
According to him “the 10-Year Roadmap consists of five pillars and four enablers. The pillar on Technical Capability Development contains initiatives to further drive the delivery of Research and Development in oil and gas industry. The enabler on research and statistics cover the initiatives required to conduct research in key areas to generate new evidence to address industry knowledge gaps and operational challenges.”
Speaking further, Wabote announced that the Board would soon embark on a roadshow to showcase its Research and Development initiatives to the various stakeholder groups, including universities in the country which represent a key constituency.
He said the Board was set to move fully into the implementation phase of its initiatives to derive better results from the intellect of Nigerians in the academia, research institutions, and technology hubs.
The Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Mallam Mele Kyari delivered a goodwill message at the event and assured the support of the national oil company and the entire oil industry to the R&D initiatives being promoted by the Board.
The Fair featured exhibitions by universities and inventors and technical discussions by academics and stakeholders in oil and gas on strategies for generating demand driven research that would solve practical problems and improve the operations of the oil and gas industry.