#FirstNigeriaLics Conference: Expert Says Nigeria Must Build Capabilities To Attain Economic Transformation

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Professor Oyebanji Oyelaran- Oyeyinka, a development Economist, has advocated that the African continent and Nigeria must embark on building and developing national productive capability to attain economic transformation.

Prof. Oyelaran- Oyeyinka, a Senior Special Adviser to the President on Africa Development Bank (AfDB) spoke while delivering a paper titled: ” Building Innovation Capabilities For Economic Transformation in a Post-Pandemic World” during the maiden NigeriaLics conference hosted by the University of Lagos (UNILAG).

The guest lecturer regretted that after 60 years of independence, Nigeria like a host of other African countries has failed to live up to the expectations and dreams of its founding fathers, saying Nigeria must begin to develop national productive capabilities.

He charged leaders in the country to first build the rules, establish manufacturing and innovation capabilities as these form the basis for global competitive advantage and reckoning.

He faulted the approaches adopted by successive leaders of the continent that have stunted the developmental efforts of individual countries.

He lamented that in the early stages, poor countries imported mature technology, deployed systems mechanisms, particularly reverse engineering and absorbed the technology.

According to him, many failed to start without building innovative capabilities but jumped into the process by building productive capabilities through technological learning.

Citing an example of Samsung, he said what the manufacturers did was acquire capability, learn what others are doing or have done, build export for growth and innovation for competitive advantage.

“The point I am making is that Africa did not focus on building autonomous technological capability within the industrial sector.”

Prof. Oyelaran-Oyeyinka said unfortunately much as learning is key in research, adding that most of the research endeavours in the continent do not address the most immediate needs of the communities.

He said the failure to properly diversify the economies made most poor countries suffer hardships during the pandemic, saying all mineral-dependent economies suffered the most during the outbreak of Covid.

Oyelaran-Oyeyinka regretted that despite trade liberalisation by the Work Bank and others, all that Africa was able to do is by sending to other countries unprocessed raw materials, building laboratories that are not functional and moribund while the Asians were building companies.

He observed that the Nigerian and the Korean steel manufacturing that commenced about the same year has become a sad tale while the Korean sector in 25 years now generates over 60 billion dollars and created about 65,000 jobs in contrast to Ajaokuta which he described as a tragedy and monumental failure.

The Vice-Chancellor of, the University of Lagos, Professor Folasade Ogunsola, represented by the Deputy Vice-Chancellor, of Development Service, Professor Ayodele Atsenuwa assured that UNILAG is ready to offer a model of how to grow ideas and innovations into tangible developmental policies through coordination, harnessing and concise delivery as against the old system where research outputs are left at the paper level.

Prof Opeyemi Ayinde, Secretsry-GeneralNigeriaLics welcome participants to the conference and assured them that Nigeria will continue to play key roles in the AfricLics and drive productive research results in the continent.

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