|This Communiniqué carries recommendations which specifically challenged the Diaspora to certain developmental aspirations for Nigeria in the run-up to the year 2020 and in realisation of Nigeria Vision 2020. Having taken a cursory look at the recommendations, it is my belief that some areas are complementary to policy objectives which we are currently pursuing while others are novel to it. We may therefore want to take closer look at these recommendations and begin to ponder over how these could shape some aspects of the policy objectives of NIDO Europe in the coming years|
The 3rd Diaspora Day and 4th Science and Technology conference was held at the Tinapa International Business Resort, Calabar, Cross River State, Nigeria, from 23rd to 27th July 2008. The theme of the conference was “Nigeria and the Diaspora: Utilizing Science and Technology to Drive Vision 2020”.
2. The objectives of the conference were:-
(i) Utilise science and technology to drive vision 2020;
(ii) articulate and collate Diaspora input into the national framework for Vision 2020;
(iii) ensure the participation of the Nigerian Disapora in the transformation of Nigeria;
(iv) encourage the Nigeria Diaspora’s participation and support for the country’s effort in attaining Vision 2020.
3. The event was co-hosted by the Nigerian National Volunteer Service, Ministry of Special Duties, Ministry of Science & Technology and the Cross River State Government. Other collaborating partners include Federal Ministries of Education, Foreign Affairs, Health, Information and Communication as well as the Raw Materials Research and Development Council, National Biotechnology Development Agency, Nigeria Atomic Energy Commission, National Planning Commission, Nigeria Investment Promotion Commission, Agricultural Research Council of Nigeria, Directorate of Technical Corporation in Africa and the National Universities Commission.
4. The President, Commander in-Chief of the Armed Forces, Federal Republic of Nigeria, Alhaji Umaru Musa Yar’Adua was represented by the Minister/Deputy Chairman, National Planning Commission Senator Mohammed Sanusi Daggash who declared the conference open. Present at the conference were the Acting Governor of Cross River State, Rt. Hon. Francis Bussam Adah (the Chief Host) the Hon. Ministers of Special Duties, Elder Godsday Orubebe (the host). Minister of Science and Technology, Mrs. Grace Ekpiwhre who delivered the Keynote Address on the topic of the Conference and the Minister of Education, Dr. Igwe Aja-Nwachukwu.
5. about 600 participants drawn from the Nigerians in the Diaspora (200 from 23 countries), the universities, professional bodies especially from science and technology related agencies, senior federal and state government officials, the private sector attended the conference which featured the opening ceremony, three plenary sessions and six break out sessions. One of the plenary sessions was on vision 2020. At the end of the presentations and discussions at the Plenary and Breakout Sessions, the conference made the following recommendations:-
On ICT, Science, Technology and Innovation:-
· create and mobilize at least 500,000 skilled ICT professionals by 2020, which should be done via the establishment of specialised ICT universities, software engineering and development institutes and ICT research centres.
· model its ICT human resource development programme after such developed countries like Canada.
· encourage and subsidize ICT capacity enhancement programmes for staff of public and private establishments, e.g. through funds similar to PTDF or Science & Technology funds.
· encourage domestication of transferred technology, which would ensure local production through private entrepreneurship but without protectionism.
· encourage the development of space technology and other related modern technology applications. Public and private organisations should be encouraged to utilize and market the products of these technologies.
The Diaspora should -
· evolve a road map to help develope the ICT human resource that the country needs between now and 2020.
· directly establish training centres for developing the needed ICT skills.
On Infrastructural Development:-
§ shift of emphasis from large generating plants to mini plants
§ promotion of regional investments in alternate resources with Research and Development.
§ use of active and strong collaboration in power systems engineering and education in Nigeria.
§ use of Diaspora expertise to strengthen the missing intellectual manpower at PHCN.
§ development of National Centers to renew the workforce for the power sector.
§ leverage on research and development with well focused organizations such as NASENI, Research Centers and Institutes locally and abroad.
Other recommendations include:-
A. Short term or Mid Term
(i) strengthening the National Grid using IPP support;
(ii) regulating the use of generating sets and offer incentives for local management technology;
(iii) introduction and Management of grid inter tie options for large consumers with excess resale power.
(iv) embracing new technology;
(v) investing in renewable energy;
B. Long Term
(i) development of Nigeria’s natural resources in energy.
(ii) nuclear energy and clean coal plants.
(iii) acquisition of Bio-diesel technology.
i) re-direction of efforts from the construction of large-scale to series of small and medium multi purpose water resources dams to meet the need of the society.
ii) establishment of synergies between the government and the organized private sector for effective water resources development.
On Education and Youth Development:–
· encourage the involvement of the industry and professional associations in the design of market driven curriculum and research as a means of strengthening linkages between institutions, the industry, international community and professional associations in research, training, curriculum development and implementation.
· adequate motivation, training and retraining of teachers to address the issue of declining quality teachers and implementation of entrepreneurship education at all levels.
· the low-carrying capacity of educational institutions in Nigeria should be improved upon through increased funding and fast tracking of the ongoing restructuring of ETF,
· development of a national framework/mechanism for youth mentoring should be instituted and an agency established for actualising the framework,
· strengthening the educational inspectorate system at all levels of education by promoting collaboration between the local regulatory agencies and their foreign counterparts for knowledge sharing, innovation, best practices and joint exercise. In this regard emphasis should be placed on capacity building for the regulatory agencies.
The Diaspora should –
· participate in the NUC LEAD programme and institute exchange programmes for Nigerian academics at the tertiary education level with institutions abroad especially where the Nigerian Diasporans work.
· assist in establishing linkages between Nigerian universities and universities abroad.
· collaborate with local institutions joint research and production of PhDs, mentoring, seminar/workshop in advancement in global Science Technology and innovation and in curriculum development,
· grant proposal writing support including online delivery of instructional materials through the NUC’s VIHEAF online programme with support of UNESCO.
· In achieving the Millennium Development Goals as they relate to the health sector, the Federal and State Governments should be more proactive in engaging Nigerian Diaspora health practitioners, in creating partnerships and collaboration in improving health care delivery.
· the issue of poor indices of public health, health education, reproductive health, general living conditions and sanitation should be addressed.
· the threat of polio, cholera, malaria, sleeping sickness, AIDS should be tackled more vigorously.
· increasing the public health literacy is a panacea for solving the above issues.
· the application of biomedical informatics in the health sector as a means of health information management should be adopted in national health care delivery.
· the Federal Government should facilitate good data collection and analysis.
The Diaspora should -
· sustain and expand medical missions embarked upon by some Diaspora organizations.
· develop collaboration with colleges of medicine in Nigeria for international grants for research and development
· adopt Nigerian nurses for mentoring; adopt a ward in a Nigerian hospital for upgrading.
· assist in developing libraries in schools of nursing through supply of books, computers and teaching aids.
· establishment of industrial clusters and business incubators in six zones of the country,
· domestication of transferred manufacturing technology,
· establishment of facilities maintenance systems,
· floating of Diaspora Bond facilitated by the Nigerians in Diaspora in conjunction with the African Development Bank,
· encourage the Nigerians in Diaspora initiatives in investment in affordable housing and accessible housing financing systems,
· provision of interest subsidy in selected key areas of the economy to enhance access to affordable credit,
· promotion of tourist sites across the country to create revenue and investment opportunities.
· promotion of accountability and good governance at all levels,
The Diasporans should –
· be key partners with their local counterparts in creating a viable roadmap towards establishing and implementing industrial clusters and business incubators in the country.
· leverage on capabilities and skill sets of Nigerians in the Diaspora and their local counterparts in manufacturing technology, maintenance systems and tourism.
On Agriculture and Environment:-
· redirection of agricultural practice & research to focus on vital needs of the country based on competitive advantage.
· projects being implemented in agriculture should be in line with environmental best practices.
· interest free loans and grants should be made available to farmers
· mechanized farming should be pursued with vigor.
· government should provide land for possible Diaspora intervention in mechanized agriculture
· all-season motorable access roads to farmlands and market outlets should be provided along with post harvest processing and storage facilities,
· provision of a sustainable programme for training of youths in farming to replace the ageing farming populace,
· the Media should give encouraging attention to agriculture.
The Diaspora should –
· assist in sourcing relevant technology for agricultural production and post harvest processing and storage.
· come up with ideas from their various countries to encourage development in agriculture.
· assist in disease and pest control measures in line with best practice.
6. Finally, it was recommended that Vision 2020 should be driven by the establishment of SME clusters in the various economic zones of the country, while the Diaspora would assist in attracting foreign direct investment to strengthen the country’s resource base.
Done in Calabar, Cross River State
This 26th day of July, 2008
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