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Minister identifies reasons for economic woes

Monday, 10 October 2016

By Gideon Arinze, Enugu

The Minister of Science and Technology, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu has identified failure to invest huge resources in science and technological innovation as The bane of Nigeria's economic woes.

He made this known on Thursday while delivering the keynote address at the 56th Founders day celebration of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka.

The minister who spoke on the topic Science, Technology and Innovation: The Way Forward, said that Nigeria in her post- independence history did not pay sufficient attention to the crucial role which science and technology plays to nation building.

"The impact of this trend in development on our economy can be better appreciated if we can examine the nature of our exports within the past fifty years for both Nigeria and South Korea"

According to him, both countries in 1962  exported essentially unprocessed commodities with little inputs from science and technology. But fifty years later, the situation changed in South Korea as its exports transform to Industrial products and already processed commodities.

He however regretted that in 2011, Nigeria exports still remained unprocessed and became even worse as it operated a mono-economy.

"We have not considered science, technology and innovation as a critical component of our economic growth strategy. It is important that we appreciate that we risk being left further behind" he said.

He stated that the United States of America for instance remains the largest economy in the world and also dominates the globe militarily because it attaches a lot of importance to scientific and technological knowledge.

He equally maintained that technological knowledge was also employed to start and fast track the pace of economic growth in countries such as China, India and Brazil.

"China was once a poor country, but recorded an unprecedented high rate of economic growth averaging more than a per capita GDP growth rate of 8 percent over a period of more than three decades" he said adding that  China now feeds 1.4 billion of her citizens

He stressed the need to transform the nations economy from being resource based to a knowledge based and innovation driven economy.

"Nigeria cannot continue to be a mono product economy where our export consists of essentially unprocessed commodities. This makes our economy very vulnerable and hence unable to withstand shocks that arise wherever there is a sharp decline in the prises of commodities in the international market" he stated.

In his remark, the Vice Chancellor of the University, Prof Benjamin Ozumba described the founders day celebration as a very pleasurable activity.

"It is an event that gives us the opportunity to chronicle the laudable achievement of the founding of the first indigenous University in Nigeria, weigh the expectations of the founding fathers alongside our achievement and chart the path for our future activities in our March to the momentous task of making the University of Nigeria" he said.
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