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Simbi Wabote, NCDMB Executive Secretary

NCDMB explains reasons for $50m Research, Devt fund

Simbi Wabote

By Edith Ike-Eboh

Bayelsa, Sept. 9, 2021

Mr Simbi Wabote, the Executive Secretary, Nigeria Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB), has said that the 50 million dollars fund for Research and Development (R&D) was created for economic development of the nation.

Wabote made this known at the 2nd edition of the NCDMB Research & Development Fair and Conference, in Yenagoa, on Thursday.

The Theme of the conference is “Creating Sustainable Collaboration in Research and Development for the Energy Industry and its Linkage Sector.’’

Wabote said: “The reasons for devoting resources and time to Research and Development are various but I will  dwell on three of them.

“This first reason is that Research and Development is pivotal to the growth and development of any nation, and I dare say to the evolution of mankind.

“Right from the days of the cave men to the current age of global connectivity, Research and Development always play crucial role in opening up new chapters of modern life,’’ he said

He said that Research and Development led to the first  Industrial Revolution in the 18th century with the emergence of the steam engines.

According to him, the discovery of electricity and its application in mass production in the 19th century marked the era of the second Industrial Revolution.

“ The 20th century witnessed the era of the internet with the world wide web being the vogue of the third  Industrial Revolution.

“We are in the era the fourth Industrial Revolution with cloud computing, Internet of Things, Robotics, Big Data, Artificial Intelligent and many more being the hallmarks of the current age.

“Once upon a time, it would have been unthinkable that I would be standing here in Yenagoa while conference participants hear and see me live by clicking a link on their devices.

“ Such capabilities are associated with witches and wizards and it could only happen under the cover of darkness. These days, we are more or less taking such capability for granted,’’ he added.

Wabote said that the  fourth Industrial Revolution had made it possible to order for a private jet from your handphone or see who is at the door of your home in Lagos while you are on a business trip to Abuja.

He noted that all these were made possible via Research and Development and the world had yet to see the end.

“There will be more Industrial Revolutions down the line and the question is why are we not at the forefront of the discoveries or innovate to adapt existing technologies to our needs?

“Analysis of global practices of Research and Development revealed that the combined R&D spend of just five countries makes up 63.5 per cent of the entire global R&D spend.

“These five countries, namely USA, China, Japan, Germany, and India were also observed to have accounted for over 50 per cent of the global Gross Domestic Products.

“Africa, on the other hand, accounted for less than one percent (1%) of the global R&D spend while its GDP is only three per cent of the global GDP.

“You will agree with me that there is a nexus between the spend on Research and Development and economic prosperity,’’ he said.

The Executive Secretary further said that the industrial revolutions triggered by Research and Development have always serve as a means of wealth transfer.

He noted that Statistics showed that, as of the second quarter of 2021, around 67 per cent of Apple’s revenue was generated outside of the United States. Apple’s total net sales amounted to around 90 billion U.S dollars in that quarter.

According to him, it is time to start to nurture the growth of our home-grown technology rather than just being a wholesome consumer of other people’s innovation.

He said that the second reason for focusing energy on Research and Development was that it was one of the six parameters which were essential for sustainable Local Content practice.

He named the five parameters to include an enabling regulatory framework backed with the appropriate legislation such as the NOGICD Act and the rigorous implementation of the provisions contained therein, Periodic Gap Analysis to determine gaps that needed to be closed in the areas of skills, facilities and infrastructure such as the monitoring of the level of Nigeria Content in the oil and gas industry.

Others are Structured capacity building intervention to close identified gaps and spur domiciliation of capabilities in-country such as the construction of the NOGAPS industrial parks to domicile manufacturing.

Also, Fiscal and Monetary incentives to attract new investments and keep existing businesses afloat as demonstrated in the creation of the 350million dollars Nigerian Content Intervention Fund and Creation of access to market to enhance patronage of goods and services generated from established capacities.

This we have done through the use of various tools such as the Nigerian Content Plan to ensure that businesses in-country enjoy the right of first refusal.

“The third reason is that the Board’s activities regarding promotion of research and development in the oil and gas industry is in line with the provisions of the Nigerian Oil and Gas Industry Content Development (NOGICD) Act of 2010.

“ The authors of the Nigerian Oil and Gas Industry Content Development Act of 2010 recognised the importance of Research and Development and included key provisions in the Act.

“Specifically, Sections 36, 37, 38, and 39, of the NOGICD Act are dedicated to promoting Research & Development,’’ he said.

He noted that aside from the provisions, the Board commenced the implementation of the 10-Year Strategic roadmap in 2018 which seeks to increase the level of Nigerian Content in the oil and gas industry to 70 per cent  by the year 2027.

He said that the 10-Year Roadmap consists of five pillars and four enablers.

“ The pillar on Technical Capability Development contains initiatives to further drive the delivery Research and Development in oil and gas industry.

“The enabler on research and statistics cover the initiatives required to conduct research in key areas to generate new evidence to address industry knowledge gaps and operational challenges.

In order to drive these initiatives, we created a full Division in one of our Directorates to implement the initiatives and the provisions contained in the NOGICD Act.

“This way, we ensure fulfilment of our mandate and enhance delivery of our target of 70 per cent Nigerian Content target. So far, the roadmap implementation has increased Nigerian Content level to 35 per cent from the 26 per cent level in 2017.

Wabote said that although COVID-19 affected NCDMB in the deployment of its initiatives, it has used the delay period to perfect the toolkit to deploy to bring Research and Development to the required level in the Nigerian oil and gas industry.

“We are also ready to embark on a roadshow to showcase the various initiatives to the various stakeholder groups.

“I am using this platform to announce that I will be leading my team to visit some Universities in the country as the university community represent a key constituency in the implementation of our Research and Development initiatives,’’ he added.

He thanked the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Chief Timipre Sylva and the distinguished members of the Board’s Governing Council, for their support and approval leading to the approval of some of the initiatives that will be launched today by the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources.

“Research and Development is at the core of the industrial revolutions we have witnessed over the ages. It is important that countries deploy means of nurturing home-grown Research and Development and a means of wealth creation and growth.

“The Board recognises that R&D is one of the key parameters required for sustainable local content practice. In addition, the NOGICD Act contains specific provisions which forms part of the mandate of the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board.

With the various toolkit that will be formally launched today, we are set to move fully into the implementation phase of our Research and Development initiatives to derive better results from the intellect of Nigerians in the academia, research institutions, and technology hubs

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