By Martin Ekpeke

The Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, South-West Nigeria, yesterday called on the private sector, especially companies in the Information and Communications Technology ecosystem to explore the potentials of its near completed  ICT-Driven Knowledge Park.

Tagged, Africa Centre of Excellence, the $8million World Bank assisted ICT Park, according to the University is aimed to create a regionally-recognised and acknowledged model that is driven by high quality postgraduate education for uptake and commercialization of research and technology to advance the growth of ICT industry in Nigeria.

“With the assistance of the World Bank, we have been able to build the  ICT-Driven Knowledge Park. But we believe that we need the collaboration of the private sector to be able to fully harness the potential of the Park,” said Pro-Chancellor and the Chairman of the University Council, Dr. Yemi Ogunbiyi at a One-Day Academia -Industry Engagement/Interface held at the Sheraton Hotels, Lagos.

With the theme  ‘Rethinking Academia-Industry Engagement’, Ogunbiyi noted at the event that the University has been able to create an infrastructure, where it can conveniently engage the private sector to come up with solution that can address some of the challenges facing Nigeria as a country.

Meanwhile, Prof. Eyitope Ogunbodede, the Vice-Chancellor of the Obafemi Awolowo University, disclosed that that Africa Centre of Excellence is one of the 16 centres in Africa supported by the World Bank as ICT Park to nurture innovation for jobs and wealth creation in the continent.

He assured that the park will link academia and industry to proffer solutions to local problems affecting the West Africa sub-region. “We desired companies in the private sector to take up spcae in the park, located in the University’s premises. With that, we will be able to engage ourselves to produce possible solution that address our local challenges,” he said.

Also speaking, the Co-Leader of the Africa Centre of Excellence, Prof. Adesola Aderounmu, disclosed that companies such as Sidmach Technologies Limited and Chams Plc are already signed as partners, saying other companies are in the pipeline.

Highlighting the benefits of the collaboration between the University and the private sector, Aderounmu said the park will provide a launch pad for many startup companies borne out of the University research activities.

He said partnering companies will have the competitive advantage of proximity and direct access to the intellectual infrastructure and output of the University.

The President of the Nigeria Computer Society, also said the park will develop a center of excellence in ICT as a training hub in software engineering for Nigeria and other countries in the sub-region.

“We have designed the Park in such a way that it will develop the next generation of scientists, researchers, teachers, entrepreneurs and product developers in the area of ICT through appropriate practice,” he assured.

He noted that the practice will be anchored on capacity building, which will ultimately stimulate creativity and excellence in research and innovation.

Some existing facilities at the park include twin 750-seater e-testing centre fully air-conditioned for computer based assessment, two Telepresence facilities for online, real time communication; 7.7 TB Cloud Computing services.

Others are Data Centre servicing 400 computers nodes; Cybersecurity research laboratory and postgraduate research ICT laboratories.


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