In today’s knowledge-based economy and globalized business environment, absorption of new technology has become a vital component for nations and particularly companies to survive through maintaining their competitive position in the market place.
Technology is used as a tool to enhance national competitiveness. Nations are no longer valued in terms of its population, geographical landmass or mineral resources but on the organic mass of knowledge encapsulated in its citizenry.
With the increasing importance of knowledge as the main engine of growth in the 21st century, African leaders under the African Union decided to set aside September 13 of every year for the commemoration of the African Day for Technology and Intellectual Property.
The decision of the African leaders to set aside a day for the commemoration of the role of technology and intellectual property in achieving sustainable development on the continent has been described as a positive thinking towards national prosperity.
On the occasion of the 2018 African Day for Technology and Intellectual Property with the theme “Promoting science, technology and innovation (STI) culture and education in Nigeria” organized by the National Office for Technology Acquisition and Promotion (NOTAP) in Abuja, the Minister of Science and Technology, Dr Ogbonnaya Onu, said the commemoration was an indication of the great importance and imperative for African nations to place Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) at the forefront of all development initiatives.
He said the Buhari administration was determined to utilize science and technology to drive the economy in line with the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ENGP) 2017- 2020, pointing out that no nation in the ancient and modern world history had ever developed without the deployment of science and technology.
Onu challenged NOTAP to continue to assist inventors from all ministries, research institutes, universities, polytechnics, organized private sectors (OPS) to protect their patents, saying the increase recorded in the number of patents from 16 in 2016 to over 50 in 2017 was impressive and showed Nigeria was really making progress as a nation in technological advancement.
The permanent secretary of the ministry, Mr Bitus Bako Nabusa, earlier said technology and intellectual property systems had long been recognized to be among the foremost important factors in nation building and wealth creation, pointing out that ideas and knowledge are increasing, becoming an important factor in international trade relations as codified in the Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property (TRIPS) under the World Trade Organisation (WTOC) agreement of which Nigeria is a member since January 1, 1995.
In his remarks, the director-general of NOTAP, Dr DanAzumi Ibrahim, said the commemoration was an avenue to enlighten Nigerians on the need to be innovative and creative in all human endeavors.
He said: “IP culture creates a veritable platform for the acquisition of technical skills as well as adding value to local raw materials. One of its challenges is the low awareness of socio-economic relevance of IPR in contemporary global environment which is one of the objectives this event is targeted to achieve.”
“We as Nigerians should endeavour to use these two essential tools to minimize foreign technology consumption and improve local content in our domestic manufacturers and services.”
In his remarks, the director-general of the Nigerian Copyright Commission (NCC), Mr Afam Ezekude, averred that the linkage between technology and intellectual property (IP) was not fortuitous, pointing out that IP provides the fulcrum for innovation which is key to technological development.
“As Nigeria gradually transforms from a technology consuming nation to an innovation generating hub, issues of IPR protection deserves closer attention and enhancement,” Ezekude who was represented by the director, regulatory department of the commission, Barr Mike Akpan said. He added NCC was always prepared to collaborate with all stakeholders, and potentially those in the public sector like NOTAP to advance the prospects of Nigeria’s IP and Innovation performance.
The Trademarks and Patents Office, represented by Barr. Jane Igwe, described IP as the creation of human mind, saying the essence of the protection of the human mind is to spur innovation which in turn comes with the rippling effect of economic growth of the nation while in the same vein striking a balance between the need of an inventor to have his IP creation protected against infringement and the need to ensure that such protection does not create monopoly in the market therefore hindering access to such invention by the larger public.
“Innovation is the backbone of every vibrant economy, Nigeria is a vibrant economy therefore the need to promote science, technology and innovation cannot be understated,” she added.
The highpoint of the commemoration was the exhibitions and competition amongst over 20 invited secondary and vocational schools in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja, that were assessed by experts in technology and intellectual property.
The event saw Government Science Secondary School, Garki, Government Day Secondary School, Karu and Vocational Educational Institute, Gwagwalada take up the first, second and third positions respectively in the young scientists’ research and innovation competition among selected schools.