Technological innovations (technnovation) are pivotal for Nigeria to attain her economic goals, particularly when the ecosystem supports entrepreneurship.
This was the unanimous view of panellists at the Nigeria Innovation Summit (NIS) 2017 held in Lagos, recently, conveying a message on the need for the country and Africa in general, to take critical steps that support and leverage the demographical strengths in order to be technologically relevant.
Davis Cook, chief executive officer, Research Institute for Innovation and Sustainability (RIIS), South Africa, speaking on the Summit’s theme,’Transforming Nigeria’s Economy Through Technology, Innovation and Entrprenurship’, urged African start-ups to collaborate to develop solutions to unique challenges faced by the Continent.
He said the multifaceted challenges faced in healthcare, transportation, food safety, commerce and agriculture, should drive willingness among the start-ups to start sharing information on the way forward while aligning in clusters to build solutions.
“We don’t necessarily have to replicate other technologies rather innovate on how to perfect application of these technologies. It is not the job of the world to solve our problems, it is for us to think out how we must solve our issues. Innovations and clusters of hubs are antidotes to impeding ‘digital colonisation’ in Africa,” Cook said.
However, technology and innovation thrive better in a healthy ecosystem, said Mr. Kenneth Omeruo, CEO of Emerging Media, stressing that “Nigeria has human, natural and the financial resources to become a leader in technology and innovation in the comity of nations but we are nowhere to be found even among many African nations”.
This, Omeruo said, is due largely to the fact that government do not truly support or invest in technology and innovation in the country. “The Government is yet to understand its importance as to give it all it takes to create an enabling environment that will naturally attract the needed foreign investments.
“Just to remind us that technology, innovation and entrepreneurship is the only hope for Africa’s survival, and Nigeria should wake up to play a leading role. With emerging technologies like virtual reality, artificial intelligence, robotics, genomics, internet of things (IoT), increased awareness on crytocurrency, cybersecurity, data mining and analysis, it is obvious that the next 20 years within the Fourth Industrial revolution will create a whole new economy and new industries.
Speaking specifically on innovation in healthcare, Dr. Muntaqa Umar-Sadiq, managing director and chief executive officer, Private Sector Health Alliance of Nigeria (PHN), said, though Nigeria’s healthcare sector has received billions in grants, however the inadequacy of current health programs and stagnated results necessitates bold and disruptive innovative approaches to transform the sector.
He said that the state of healthcare sector was characterised by poor outcomes, poor quality and a lack of protection from financial risk which attracted the interest of concerned Nigeria who set up PHN to mobilizes private sector to complement government’s efforts in accelerating improvement in health outcomes by focusing on innovation, impact investments, advocacy and public-private partnerships.
“The sector requires innovations that address socio-economic challenges, such as poverty and health, also drive economic growth,” he said.
Also, Mr. Tony Ajah, director, Nigeria Innovation Summit (NIS), reflected on the 2016 Global Innovation Index, where Nigeria was ranked 114 out of 128 countries based on the investment in research and development, infrastructure, ICTs, political environment, regulatory effectiveness, knowledge and technology output, market sophistication etc.
The Summit agreed that there could be no better time to promote innovation in Nigeria than now as every sector in the country needs disruptive ideas driven by technology and innovation.