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Solving Nigeria’s Economic Challenges Through Innovation

Lagos: August 29, 2016: LOOKING at Lagos, Abuja and other business hubs in Nigeria, one finds it easy to see no matter how little the progress made through innovations and the effects on these cities – busy streets, construction of skyscrapers, construction and commissioning of some of the shopping malls, and an emerging 24-hour business culture driven largely by a Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) boom. It is expected that the country would remain on the speed-lane of economic growth, thus, the economy will continue to flourish even in the era when oil price at the international market has gone as low as $40/barrel; but, in general, the economy is facing enormous challenges at the moment.

Yes, in the midst of this larger growth picture, it is not easy to forget that there are numerous areas in the country where it becomes immediately apparent that it is still a developing nation.

In fact, Nigeria’s economic situation depicts a picture of an economy in disarray; getting worse by the day and represents a bleak future for the youths in particular.

For instance, Nigeria’s unemployment rate was recorded at 12.1 percent in March quarter of 2016, up from 10.4 percent in the fourth quarter of 2015, reaching the highest since December of 2009. The number of unemployed persons rose by 18 percent to 9.485 million, employment grew a meagre 0.12 percent to 69 million and labour force went up 2 percent to 78.4 million. Meanwhile, youth unemployment increased to 21.5 percent from 19 percent. Unemployment rate in Nigeria averaged 9.04 percent from 2006 until 2016, reaching an all time high of 19.70 percent in the fourth quarter of 2009 and a record low of 5.10 percent in the fourth quarter of 2010, as reported by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).

What is the way forward?
There is no need beating about the bush. To overcome the impending unemployment and economic kegs of ‘gunpowders’, there is urgent need to explore non oil sectors towards achieving sustainable development in Nigeria.

Therefore, innovation is key! Actually, innovation has been one of the major buzzwords in the corporate world in recent years, spreading not only at the corridors of technology hubs and labs, but also corporate institutions in emerging economies like Nigeria.

Global Innovation Index
Unfortunately, in the latest Global Innovation Index which ranks the innovation performance of 128 countries and economies around the world, based on 82 indicators, Nigeria appeared on that index as a country far away from innovation because Nigeria does not invest in Innovation.

In the report countries like Mauritius, South Africa, Kenya, Rwanda, Mozambique, Botswana, Namibia, Malawi made the list of top innovative countries in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Mauritius takes the top spot among all economies in the region (53rd), followed by South Africa (54th), Kenya (80th), Rwanda (83rd), Mozambique (84th), Botswana (90th), Namibia (93rd), and Malawi (98th).

Since 2012, Sub-Saharan Africa has counted more countries than any other region among the group of “innovation achievers” – countries that perform better than their level of development would predict. This year, Kenya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mozambique, Rwanda, and Uganda stood out. Better rankings on the indicators for institutions, business sophistication, and knowledge and technology output have allowed the region to catch up to Central and Southern Asia, and to overtake Northern Africa and Western Asia.

Average regional performance shows strengths in the ease of starting a business, ICTs, business-model creation, and relative expenditure on education, with weaknesses in firms conducting global R&D, high-tech exports, the quality of local universities and number of scientific publications. In general, further efforts are required in Human capital, Research and Infrastructure.
So, it is not surprising to see that a country like Nigeria, despite her great potentials, is yet to make investments in innovation; that really shows how the country leads with no future.

Innovation for Economic Growth
Innovation for any country or people does not come by mere wishing it, Innovation is driven by huge investments in research and development, promoting greater entrepreneurship spirit. These are the bedrocks on which prosperous economies are built. It is easy to know where a country or continent is heading to by what they are investing their time and money in today. Nations who are looking at the future invest in research and development, so it becomes easy to understand and see where the future is going with technology.

No wonder countries like the Switzerland, Sweden, United States, the UK, Israel, Finland, Japan, Korea, China, Germany are among the leading economies around the world. They are also the most innovative countries. They invest in Technology, Innovation and Entrepreneurship through Research and Development. They are investing in Artificial intelligence, Robotics, Aerospace explorations, Nanotechnology, Internet of Things,3D printing, Human-centered designs you name it.

To this end, it is important for both government and private organisations to rally round the Organisers of proposed “Nigeria Innovation Summit”(www.innovationsummit.ng) with the theme: Innovation: A Key Driver Of Economic Growth And Sustainable Development; an annual event that focuses on the need for the country, businesses, organisations, entrepreneurs across Nigeria to become more innovative and apply innovation to drive sustainable development as we work together to bridge the digital divide.

The summit
The summit slated for 3-4 November 2016 at Sheraton Hotel Ikeja, is an initiative led by Emerging Media and Advertising Services, New York and Emerging Media Nigeria. As they set to partner with the world’s leading innovation providers from academia, government and industry to connect Nigerian businesses and Innovators to global innovation ecosystems; no doubt, this will help Nigeria embrace innovation and move in the direction of digital transformation through the use of Emerging Technologies and Trends, Research, Development, Commercialization, Entrepreneurship and Investments as the key drivers of an innovation ecosystem and sustainable development. There is no better time to promote innovation in Nigeria than now.

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