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Please sign National Research and Innovation Council (NRIC) bill

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The candid words of the Minister of Communication, Innovation and Digital Economy, Mr. Tubosun Tijani, that technology must be leveraged in multiple sectors like education, creative industry, financial services, agriculture, manufacturing, transport and security is a welcome development.

The minister’s call for a national Artificial Intelligence (AI) strategy will no doubt help to boost Nigeria’s digital readiness ranking. AI has the potential to revolutionise many sectors including astronomy. In recent times, astronomers are increasingly relying on AI to analyse large datasets, identify patterns and make predictions.

South Africa and Australia are hosts of the world’s largest radio telescope, the Square Kilometer Array Observatory (SKAO), which is currently under construction. Nine African countries and some G20 members are partners in the project. Unfortunately, Nigeria has been controversially left out, despite being a pioneer member. South Africa, Egypt and Nigeria are the top three African countries in the field of astronomy.

During phase one of the project, about 600petabits of data will be archived, thereby overtaking internet giants like Facebook and Google. Data collected in a day could take two million years to playback on an iPod. This is one of the major reasons why most G20 countries are indicating interest in being part of the first-rate project.

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France and Switzerland announced their memberships in 2022. Spain became a full member in 2023 while Germany, Canada and others are also planning to take up full membership status very soon.

On completion, the telescope will also impact research and innovation, digital technologies and future communication systems.  A thriving research can potentially unlock growth across all sectors of the economy. Studies have shown that for every dollar invested in R&D, there is a generation of nearly two dollars in return.

Nigeria ranks very low among countries in the world in terms of R&D spending. If the National Research and Innovation Council (NRIC) bill is signed into law, the transfer of technology will not only improve the rankings of Nigerian Universities but industrialise the nation.

R&D spending and innovations are known to also impact the creative sector massively. Renaming the Ministry of Education as Ministry of Education and Research will also boost university rankings and Industrial growth. A number of developing and developed countries have equally renamed their respective ministries.

Kenya is one of the highest rankings in R&D spending in Africa. In the fourth quarter of 2021, the country’s economy showed resilience, as output surprisingly rose above the pre-pandemic level.

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Toyota’s manufacturing plant in Kenya was particularly a lifesaver during the COVID-19 era. While Nigeria was seeking ventilator donations, the carmaker instead, manufactured 20 ventilators per day.

The fact that more G20 members still have the opportunity to join the SKAO telescope board clearly indicates Nigeria still has a fighting chance to reclaim its membership. Mr. President, known for his sublime negotiation skills should be able to get a good deal for Nigeria.

The target of overtaking India as the largest exporter of tech talents would be an uphill task if education and research do not have a strong link with the Ministry of Communication, Innovation and Digital Economy.

 

Sam Omosanmi Lepe wrote via [email protected]

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Source link: Daily Trust/

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