Nigeria is regarded as the giant of Africa with a vast demography and massive population. Irrespective all these endowments, Nigeria do not have a globally recognized product to its name. Commenting on this development, Nigerian inventors blamed investors as the bane of their inability to come up with a Made-in-Nigeria product.
Inventors in the country operating under the aegis of Association of Nigerian Inventors have decried investors’ seeming lack of faith in made-in-Nigeria inventions and innovations, saying it has slowed down development of the industry.
Speaking in an exclusive interview with LEADERSHIP, the president-general of the association, Chief Okon Essien, said the inability of investors to invest in made-in-Nigeria products was behind the nation’s inability to develop and roll out a globally recognized product.
Essien said, “for us to bring out made-in-Nigeria products of high quality to meet international standard you have to invest money, that is number one problem. Many investors are not keen to put venture capital to develop these inventions to marketable products internationally.
“In fact we have very useful products that can be developed from Nigerian inventions. For example, a power generating plant just developed by one of our members from overhead water tank. From overhead water tank, water flows down under pressure, turns a turbine, turbine turns alternator and power is generated. We have a plant in Warri, our investors have refused to invest money to perfect that project, nobody is keen to finance it, they all want readymade products”.
He also cited another product which he said had been developed by another inventor- the fuel- less generator, which is still waiting to be financed by a willing investor.
According to him, “there is also another product, the electricity generation from electric motor and alternator; the fuel -less generator. We have Ilaro Polytechnic and independent inventors working on it but investors are not coming up to invest in it. Though Ilaro owns it, we have 2.5 kilowatts going for 100,000, but it’s still not perfected. And you see if they solve the power problem through this stand alone generator in the country, it will go a long way to improve the economy.”
Essien further said the unavailability of venture capital companies to assist inventors with seed capital for their various projects was another problem or challenge that was inhibiting the development of made-in-Nigeria products.
“You see most of the products you see are made by independent inventors; most of them roadside mechanics, they don’t have enough capital to do fancy finishing. You know, when you’re talking of the regular products made by Nigerian factories, we mean original innovative products that can come out. In order to finish it, you need the expertise and some of these inventors are not trained in machining, in design engineering and to do that they have to link up with experts who will demand money from them and it still boils down to venture capital.
“We don’t have venture capital companies in this country; by this I mean people who want to put money where they’re not entirely sure it can succeed. It goes with risk taking in business. Once this can be promoted then there will be a noticeable turnaround in the good finishing of Nigerian inventions,” he added.
He further called on the federal government to play a visible role in encouraging investors by floating its own venture capital agency that would be in charge of financing new inventions. “By doing so, inventors will be encouraged to go the extra mile to bring out quality made in Nigeria product that can compete with its contemporaries worldwide. The problem is not that we can’t do what other inventors are doing in China and other developed countries, our problem is the inability of the government and investors to invest in Nigerian investors and innovators. The lack of faith of investors and even the government in developing the innovation and inventions industry is the reason behind Nigeria’s inability to come up with a globally recognized product,” he stressed.
Another inventor, Mr. Bernard Emeka Eme, also blamed the problem of Nigerian entrepreneurs was lack of interest in made-in-Nigeria inventions.
Eme said, “the problem we have in Nigeria is entrepreneurs interest. Entrepreneurs are not keen to come and key into these inventions. The function of an entrepreneur is to come in and key into products of inventor, as soon as this is done it can facilitate the process of bringing out better refined products into the market.”
According to him, “it is quite unfortunate that Nigerians are afraid of their fellow Nigerians in terms of innovation and inventions but they fail to know that development of innovation and inventions are not done that way. Any invention that is credit worthy must be appreciated.
“Investors don’t patronize Nigerian inventors, they prefer to go to China and do their businesses. This is very wrong because we have competent inventors here in Nigeria who can be encouraged through patronage.”