Dr DanAzumi Ibrahim is the director-general of the National Office for Technology Acquisition and Promotion (NOTAP). In this interview with NKECHI ISAAC, he harps on effect of over-dependence and consumption of foreign technologies on the nation.
Many Nigerians have several inventions but do not know how to go about protecting them. Since it is part of your agency’s interventions, can you throw more light on how to handle this?
The world is moving from resource-based to knowledge-based economy and Nigeria is blessed with intelligent people, what we need to do is tap from their intelligence so we can produce innovations, products and services that can add to the economic development of the country because we’ll just remain a consumer nation if we don’t do it.
We are basically consuming technologies from outside Nigeria from countries where people have done the research, patented the technologies and are making money out of it.
So, first of all, if you want to convert your intellectual productivity into products and services you cannot do it as a researcher but the private sector can do it. An investor can only invest when he knows that the innovation is protected. This means that he’ll be able to recoup his money if he buys it or it is licensed out to him. If you protect your intellectual property now you have the certificate of occupancy of your intellectual activity and with it you can approach the private sector with it and negotiate. This is how we can see intellectual property translating into products and services for the economic development of the country.
How is the Agency sensitising Nigerians with regard to addressing this weak culture?
When we realized that the culture was very weak, we had to move into the universities, the research establishments and polytechnics. We started this intervention in 2006. So far, we have established 43 of those intellectual property and technology transfer offices across these institutions both private and public owned.
I must confess that it has started working because now requests are coming from them to patent their technologies. Before you hardly get that, some institutions have existed for 50 years and they don’t have one patented technology, it is sad.
Can you quantify what Nigeria loses as a result of this weak intellectual culture?
There has been remarkable progress, in 2015 we only had five patented technologies through NOTAP, by the end of 2016 the number rose to 16, and it hit 50 patented technologies by 2017 through NOTAP from the patent registry. And now we’re in November and we already have 53. So far, we’ve registered 103 technologies as an agency. We have surpassed what we had last year, this means the intervention is working. This is a positive development.
Consumption of foreign technologies is costing the nation a lot by way of capital flight. Has NOTAP’s intervention helped in any way to stem the tide?
We’ve been able to save the Federal Government over N240 billion that would have gone outside the country in capital flight from 2010 to 2017.
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