Indigenous Technology; Answer to Industrialization and Employment

By Dr Jude Nnanna

The use of indigenous engineering and technologically based and viable alternatives to transform key sectors for wealth creation in Nigeria while developing competent, resourceful and skillful man power that can add value cannot be over emphasized.

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For an economy to live up to expectation in the committee of nation’s , such economy must achieve accelerated economic growth and development which is sine qua non for improving quality of life. There is need to understand the problem or concept of unemployment and poverty. This is because no one solves the problem he does not understand.

Developing technological competence has long been identified as one of the most complicated issues facing developing countries today. Global R&D is seriously biased towards developing Countries.

Evidences abound that in regions or economies where Indigenous Technology have been actively promoted and encouraged, their poverty rates have declined. This is especially true of Asia, whereas in Sub Saharan Africa, more and more people have sunk deep into poverty. India, for instance, illustrates a model of bottom-up, demand driven, grass root-led economy depending much on local Technology. Nigeria shares much in common with India in that we are endowed with a young vibrant population with entrepreneurial zeal.

The consequences of youth unemployment are too grave to be toyed with. Recent experiences in Nigeria with youth restiveness in the Niger Delta region and youth gang clashes in Lagos and other cities are largely the bye-product of unemployment. Other consequences of society at large include high rate of juvenile delinquency, involvement in violent crimes such as armed robbery , Kidnapping and political thuggery of the kinds witnessed during the nation’s elections, apart from falling easy prey as couriers for drug traffickers and as victims of human traffickers.

Some of the challenges bedeviling Nigeria have been identified as: inefficient use of available resources (human, financial, material etc.), low human capacity building, absence of good and safe infrastructure, and epileptic power supply amongst others.

Although it has come to be accepted that economic transformation, employment generation, and capacity utilization have come to be associated with industrialization, Nigerian industries find it difficult to absorb labour produced by Nigeria universities and institutions.

Nigeria as a Country is face with enormous challenges that has hindered the growth of Technology in the Country. Among which are, Lack of appreciation of the role of indigenous engineering and technology in national development by policy makers and inadequate financial and material support to institutions mandated by Government to facilitate the application of scientific and technological discoveries.

In order to solve problems militating against the application of indigenous engineering and technology, the following considerations should be made:

1. Increase awareness amongst the public, policy makers and industrialists on the pivotal role engineering and technology plays in national development;

2. Government must strengthen the capacity of its institutions to promote the application of indigenous engineering and Technology in the nation.

3. A comprehensive proactive policy framework is the best way to conserve indigenous knowledge that has helped produce, use and maintain diversity in the region.

4. A strong sustainability connection exists between indigenous and modern knowledge

Domestic Technology development in developing countries is a difficult process especially when we are dealing with a small industry. What is going on right now is the result of multiple efforts. Some of the initiative emerges from individuals, some from enterprises and some from specialized institutions created for this specific purpose.

The Individual initiative of an entrepreneur with some technical ability and the business insight to identify a product or a process and tie that to a market opportunity, is still the most common pattern in many developing countries and Nigeria inclusive. Many of the small and rural industries one comes across in countries as varied as India and Nigeria have been created in this way. And many of them do demonstrate the technological limitations of this individual Initiative too.

At Jude Elswitch, we have been able to build a Workshop totally independent of Government support, Fabricating and Assembly Control Panels for Soap factories, Petroleum Depots and Manufacturing Companies for over ten years. The total lack of support has not stopped us from adapting, refining and improving our locally made panels.

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Technological development could follow a programme approach i.e. a cluster of efforts developed by the government or the private sector in order to stimulate technical education or skill development among a specific group of individuals. These programmes can be confined to a specific target group, run along non conventional lines and have a variable life cycle which should be from special allocations beyond the traditional budget outlays of the respective agency.

A regional approach to technological cooperation.

In order for Nigeria technology transfer to materialize, clear and approachable regional channels should be created. Technonet Asia though with a few significant adjustments could serve as a model. Its span of activities should actually be as broad as to include the following:

Identify needs for a specific technology type within a country, a group of countries or a region.

Have a clear insight in regards to alternative techniques available within a branch or industry.

Provide assistance in the acquisition, assimilation, adaptation and adoption of the transferred technology.

Germany’s Dual System of Vocational Education and Training (VET) can be said to be the most successful in the World. The System allows Students to attend classes at a vocational school and receive on-the-job training at a company.
Azubi welding
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 It is legally obligatory for three years for all 15 to 18 years olds not otherwise in full time education Programmes. Usually last between two and three and a half years and comprise theoretical as well as practical elements. Students spend one or two days a week, or several weeks at once, at a vocational school (called Berufsschule) where they will acquire the theoretical knowledge that they need in their future occupation.

Mini industrial estates containing basic common facilities and a skeleton of extension services located at convenient rural areas would go a long way towards covering the immediate technological needs of village based industries. These estates should avoid the common errors of those larger ones which have been created in or around urban areas and whose state of technology sophistication proved to be out of reach of the micro entrepreneurs. They should contain very basic tools and equipment, charge little or nothing for their services, provide relevant advice on low cost automation, support the limited scale manufacturing of production tools and supply relevant managerial and technological advice.

Also, agriculture which was part of the mainstay of Nigeria’s economy has been declining in its productivity over the years. Agricultural products such as palm oil/kernel, cocoa, groundnut, coffee, cotton, rubber, etcetera, has dwindled considerably, while its prices at the international markets had collapsed drastically, thus contributing less than 20 percent to the Gross National Products (GNP). While industrialization appeared the necessary way out of the economic problem that Nigeria face, the role of agricultural sector however, could not be overemphasized, and for industrialization to create any meaningful impact in lives of the people, it must be developed along agricultural line.

By Dr Jude Nnanna is the CEO of Jude Elswitch Limited, an Electrical Engineering Company with Headquarter in Lagos.

ossy ilumah

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