A partnership that would lead to the rapid transformation of African Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) and indigenous knowledge into products and services for the socio-political and economic benefit of Africans is underway.
The partnership proposed by the Africa Institute of South Africa (AISA) with the National Office for Technology Acquisition and Promotion (NOTAP) and the support of the Directorate of Technical Cooperation in Africa (DTCA) would ensure a common platform to share scientific knowledge between South African and Nigerian Researchers leading to the enhanced scientific and socio-economic development of Africa.
Receiving a delegation from AISA led by the Director General of DTCA, the Director General NOTAP Dr. DanAzumi Mohammed Ibrahim said AISA shares a similar vision with NOTAP in promoting the development of indigenous research activities.
He said NOTAP was established 30 years ago to regulate the inflow of foreign technology into the country and motivate indigenous technology development and has developed several programmes and projects to ensure technological growth in Nigeria.
Dr. Ibrahim pointed out that many Nigerian researchers develop academic papers for promotion purposes but most of them are not tailored toward providing solutions to critical problems. He noted that as a result, NOTAP initiated the Intellectual Property Technology Transfer Offices (IPTTOs) in Nigerian Universities and Research Institutes with the support of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) to ensure that research activities are tailored toward solving problems.
The NOTAP boss said so far the Office has established 62 IPTTOs which are positively contributing to the emergence of many patents from Nigerian researchers prior to their establishment. He noted that 65 percent of patent certificates released by the Patent Registry in recent times came through NOTAPs intervention in assisting researchers file and patent their inventions and innovations free of charge.
Dr. Ibrahim also informed the delegation that the Office has also established the NOTAP-Industry Technology Transfer Fellowship (NITTF) programme to ensure the development of critical manpower through PhD programmes sponsored by Industry to solve critical challenges they are facing. He said a total of 23 candidates have enrolled under the programme and that the NOTAP is also upgrading research laboratories facilities with the support of Industry.
He said NOTAP is passionate about the development of Africa which explains why the office frowns at the continuous reliance of the continent on imported technologies and has initiated deliberate policies to build the capacity of researchers. He commended AISA for initiating the Africa Continental Research Foundation (ACRF) pointing out that it will be critical in translating African Research and Development(R&D) outputs into products and services.
Earlier, the leader of the delegation and Director General DTCA Ambassador Rabiu Dagari, said the two top research fellows from AISA are in NOTAP to seek collaboration on Science, Technology and Innovation development which is critical for economic liberation, good governance and the much-needed security for the continent.
He said the visit holds much promise for the rapid development of South Africa, Nigeria and by extension Africa when a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) is put in place.
The Research Director AISA, Dr. Thokozani Simelane said the institute was established 51 years ago and has been in the forefront of research and training on African affairs and how to make the continent great through enormous contributions in knowledge.
He said AISA wants to share ideas with Nigeria through collaboration with NOTAP to ensure the technological advancement of the continent and the MOU being proposed by AISA is all-encompassing with education, free flow of humans and the African Continental Research Foundation as vehicles to achieve this.
The visiting international research fellow AISA and former President African University of Science and Technology Abuja, Professor Hilary Inyang said since the world is heading for the 4th industrial revolution, there is a great need for Africa to utilize its inherent knowledge to grow goods and services for the benefit of the continent.
He opined that the intellectual system is a mother of invention stressing that Africa needs intellectual independence to complement political independence in order to make any headway in the developments we aspire for in Africa to catch up with the rest of the world.
Professor Inyang noted that South Africa cannot achieve much without Nigeria and there is a great need for Africa to create a continental research system and close some international markets for indigenous technologies to grow and engage the intellect of African nations, especially those that survive on foreign aids.
He revealed that much of the ideas for development have been seeded in South Africa through the National Research Foundation (NRF) and that Africa can no longer wait for solutions from Europe, China or U.S.A noting that small businesses innovation programmes have huge potential of encouraging the rapid development of the continent as is the case with the USA.
A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) is expected to be drafted and signed by NOTAP, AISA and DTCA to formalize the working partnership.