Nigeria

Chinyere Amalu writes on the significance of the celebration and the role of IP in nation building.

Arousing the latent creativity and innovative spirit of researchers, entrepreneurs, inventors and initiators is one of the ways of ensuring rapid development of a nation. This also signifies the important of Intellectual Property (IP) in any industrialised economy.

Intellectual property is any innovation, commercial or artistic, or any unique name, symbol, logo or design used for commercial purposes. It also refers to the creation of human mind, innovations; literary and artistic work sorely belongs to the innovator and can only be transferable or sold with the permission of the innovator. It is protected by patents on inventions; trademarks on branding devices; copyrights on music, videos, patterns and other forms of expression; trade secrets for methods or formulas having economic value and used commercially.

While Intellectual Property Rights (IPRS), is the rights given to persons over the creations of their minds, they usually give the creator an exclusive right over the use of his/her creation for a certain period of time

Technology and IP systems have long been recognised to be among the foremost important factors in the nation building and wealth creation. Recognising this concept of science and technology, and the need to awaken the consciousness of African nations on the potential of technology and IP, the African Union (AU) had in 1999 set aside September 13 every year as the African Day for Technology and Intellectual Property.

The commemoration indicates the need for African nations to place science and technology at the forefront of all development initiatives. Also the decision of the African leaders to declare a day for the commemoration of the role of technology and IP in achieving sustainable development in African continent is a positive stride in the quest for technological self-reliance, sustainable socio-economic and industrial development.

The Nigerian government, in realisation of this important day, joined other African countries in the cerebration, through the exhibition of some scientific innovations put together by the National Office for Technology Acquisition and Promotion (NOTAP), and bringing together secondary school students to be part of the cerebration.

Speaking at the ceremony, the minister of science and technology, Prof. Ita Ewa, said that technology and IPR had taken a global dimension in determining the position of a nation in designing and participating in the construction of international power equation and determining regions of investment by multinational corporation.

“The recognition which the world accords intellectual property rights and technology must be fully appreciated by us in Nigeria, as recent global developments have made it evident that natural resources endowment is no longer the prime source of national wealth or prosperity. Science and innovation have become the key driving force for propelling national economies,” he stated.

Also, Dr. Sule Bassi, the director -general of Directorate of Technical Corporation in Africa, added that for Nigeria, as a nation, to develop, she must develop its science and technology components. This, according to him, includes the nurturing of students from the classrooms on the need to engage in science and technology studies as well as encouraging girls to study sciences and other related subjects.

“If you get the girls to be interested in science and technology, then the country will develop.

These are issues that we have to put on our development agenda that have to start from the primary schools and not only at the research institutes and universities, where you get innovations,” he noted.

NOTAP director-general, Engr. Umar Bindir, on his part emphasised the need to deploy technology and IPR in the economic development, adding that Nigeria cannot go far without encouraging entrepreneurs and inventors to protect their brainwork and make good use of it in the development of the economy.

According to him, “Unless Nigeria acquires technology at the highest level, acquire intellectual property rights, it will be difficult for it to meet up with the challenges of unemployment, poverty, wealth creation and youth restiveness. Also for Nigeria to be able to deliver as a nation in economic development, it must pool its intellectual property together and promote it.”

The Nigerian government has, through the creation of NOTAP under the federal ministry of science and technology, demonstrated its determination to promote and acquire technology, especially encouraging the entrepreneurs, researcher and inventors to protect their intellectual property by putting a lot of structures in place, including establishing of 30 Intellectual Property and Technology Transfer Offices (IPTTOs) in research institutes and institutions of higher learning across the country. These centres were aimed at encouraging market oriented and demand driven research, promote intellectual property protection and to strengthen the linkage between industry, universities and research institutes.

Other structures are the introduction of the Technology Storyboard Initiative which is an Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) awareness building and an educational tool for the primary and secondary school levels. This technology teaching tool is aimed at sensitising the Nigerian child on STI. The tool gives a step-by-step pictorial representation of the production process of a given product from the raw material stage to the final product.

Also, NOTAP, in collaboration with the Nigerian National Merit Award (NNMA) and with the support and cooperation of the federal and state ministries of education, science and technology, institutionalised the intellectual property capacity building programme in secondary schools aimed at developing the innovation and intellectual capacity of the youths.

“In view of the need to evolve and coordinate a process of producing the needed critical mass of highly skilled knowledge workers in the academia that would evolve innovations needed in industry, NOTAP has established a research fund known as NOTAP Industry Fund where industry would “voluntarily” contribute resources to support Nigerians in PhD studies, strategic managerial skills development and help in the provision of key technology acquisition R&D (reserarch and development facilities) in tertiary institutions,” stated Bindir.

However, IPRS affects the processes of economic development and growth based on multiple variables. The effectiveness of IPRS depends considerably on particular circumstances in each country. Stronger systems for protecting intellectual property could either enhance or limit economic growth. Evidence is emerging that stronger and more certain IPRS could well increase economic growth and foster beneficial technical change, thereby improving development prospects, if they are structured in a manner that promotes effective and dynamic competition.

Nigeria and other African countries, having acknowledged the importance of technology and IPRS in the national building, must ensure that it has a strong system of IP to enable it move with other developed countries. This is the only way; the commemoration of the African Day of Technology and IP can be useful in nation building.

Source: Leadership News