Extending Democracy Dividends to Nigerians through NASENI

Deji Elumoye looks at the effort of government to extend dividends of democracy to Nigerians through the activities of the National Agency for Science and Engineering Infrastructure (NASENI) to facilitate the development of economic prosperity at the grassroot level

The National Agency for Science and Engineering Infrastructure (NASENI) which was established in 1992 by the Federal Government by its mandate and scope of operation is the Nigerian only purpose built Agency designed to conduct developmental work in the areas of manufacturing and as such, it is capable of coordinating the proliferation of technologies developed either within or outside of its Centers including patents obtained. The mission of NASENI is to establish and nurture appropriate and dynamic Science and Engineering Infrastructure-base for achieving home-initiated and home-sustained industrialization through the development of relevant processes, capital goods and equipment necessary for job creation, national economic well-being and progress. For decades the agency has tried to live up to their mandate.

Recently, President Muhammadu Buhari approved the sum of N24 billion for NASENI for the implementation of a smart modular irrigation project designed to enhance agricultural development in the country by enabling farmers to produce crops three times round the year. Towards this, the agency has acquired 10 hectares of farmland in Adamawa State where it will draw water from River Benue for the pilot scheme.

The Executive Vice Chairman/Chief Executive Officer (EVC/CEO) of the agency, Prof. Mohammed Haruna, said in a move by the present administration to deliver dividends of democracy to the people at the grassroot level,

the technology involved will make it possible to have three multi-crop seasons in one year. President Buhari is the Chairman of the Board of the agency and this idea resonates with his administration’s desire to diversify the economy and restore agriculture as its mainstay.

According to Haruna, the money approved is for the procurement of pumps, developing the structure, the farming techniques, as well as for the farmers, the officers, the offices that are needed, the vehicles, and the administrative management.

NASENI is the only agency with the responsibility of nurturing an appropriate and dynamic science and engineering infrastructure base for achieving home initiated and home sustained industrialization for the country. It has the mandate to engage in capital goods research, production and reverse engineering in six broad areas including Advanced Manufacturing Technology (AMT), Education Intervention, Energy Intervention, Mechatronics, Nanotechnology, and Reverse Engineering.

AMT is a production technique that incorporates highly automated and sophisticated computerized design and operational systems aimed at manufacturing high quality products at low cost within the shortest delivery time. Under the Education Intervention, NASENI seeks to change the poor conditions in the sector through aiding enhanced quality of science education in its schools at all levels. The agency’s intervention in the Energy sector involves the establishment of a Solar Panel Plant, design and production of Small Hydro Power turbines, Pole Mounted Transformers, and Wind Turbine blades.

The other area, which the agency focuses on is Mechatronics, a relatively new field of engineering dealing with the integration of Mechanics and Electronics with intensive computer involvement using a multidisciplinary approach to product and manufacturing system design. It does this in its belief that the application of Mechatronics can help increase productivity, maintain consistency in the production process and produce products of higher quality with greater efficiencies and flexibility as well as lower operating cost to enable the products to compete with international standards.

In its recognition of the lack of expertise in Nanotechnology in the country, NASENI is providing support in this area of the science and technology of materials and appliances that of the size of a billionth of a meter. The sixth area of its intervention has to do with Reverse Engineering under which a number of machines and processes are being developed after re-designing, thereby developing requisite skills and technology in their manufacture and mass production. Reverse Engineering is the general process of analysing an object in order to determine how it was designed or how it operates. The agency says it does this because the process of taking something apart and revealing the way in which it works is often an effective way to learn how to build a new product or make improvements to an existing product.

NASENI is setting up Transformer Plant as directed by President Buhari and in line with his administration’s Industrialization Agenda through economic diversification. In partnership with China Great Wall Industry Corporation (CGWIC), the agency has concluded arrangements to carry out the ground-breaking and foundation laying ceremony towards the establishment of a first transformer production plant in Nigeria. The partnership has already led to the training of 60 NASENI Engineers on Transformer Production Line and High voltage Testing Laboratory Plant.

A third component of the project is the establishment of a solar cell manufacturing plant in Nigeria aimed at popularizing renewable energy in the country. “NASENI and China would continue to work together to ensure the attainment of the industrialization agenda of the Federal Republic of Nigeria which the three projects have as targets to be kick-started with the building of a first-class Transformer Plant in Africa to be located in Nigeria. We will work together as good partners to ensure that Nigeria has the best transformer plant in Africa,” Prof. Haruna has assured. According to him,” for any nation to offer permanent solutions to the issue of power supply, it must have its own High Voltage testing laboratory, which is what this project is expected to achieve for Nigeria.”

He explained that NASENI is deliberately driving the project along the line of its mandate to provide capital goods and equipment including machinery in order to offer a solid foundation for the industrial development of the country.

Haruna also said due to the importance which NASENI placed on solar energy, 98 NASENI engineers will soon be trained on Solar Cell Modular production in China.

NASENI is actively pursuing the process of fostering growth and expansion of infrastructure, manufacturing and innovation in Nigeria, leading to Made-in-Nigeria technologies and products. Under this initiative, there is a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the Federal Republic of Nigeria (represented by the agency) and the Technology Agency of the Czech Republic (TA CR) on a project christened Delta-2 Project. The Chairman of the Presidential Implementation Committee of Transfer of Technology between Nigeria and Czech Republic (PICTT), Dr Mohammed Dahiru, revealed that over 200 Nigeria companies have so far had applied to take part in the Delta-2 project, which the federal government sees as a further avenue to diversify the economy of Nigeria from oil.

According to the NASENI EVC/CEO the three focal areas for the First Phase of implementation by PICTT are agricultural equipment, machinery, production and processing, mining equipment, production and processing and general manufacturing with emphasis on micro, small, and medium enterprises. Haruna also said the Delta-2 Programme is the cooperation model running from 2020-2025 through which the sponsors apply research and innovation of manufacturing companies and innovative institutions. “CZK 250 million (250 million Czech Koruna, approximately equal to US$ 10.5 million) has been allocated as research fund by the Czech government. On behalf of the FGN, NASENI will supplement this with US$ 10 million,” he disclosed. A total of 284 Public Proposals for Delta-2 Programme have now been submitted for screening with the thematic areas for proposals being agriculture with total proposal of 78 (27.5%), mining (4.2%) and Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) 194 (86.3%).

In line with the focus of the PICTT, some projects are at different stages of implementation including TA CR Delta 2 Programme for Bilateral Cooperation in Applied Research and Technology Transfer for Agriculture, Mining and General Manufacturing, Smart Irrigation Project/Establishment of Irrigation Equipment Manufacturing Plant and Valves & Fittings Manufacturing Company collaboration with Aqua Industrial set ups, and establishment of  Ecopanel Manufacturing Plant in collaboration with Ekopanely Czech Republic, Defence Technology Transfer Projects for the Nigerian Navy through the Ministry of Defence of the Czech Republic. NASENI is funded through the statutory 1% drawn from the Federal Allocation Accounts Committee (FAAC) dedicated to the execution of priority projects approved by government.

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