• Tuesday, June 25, 2024
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Can Nigeria develop without engineering?

E-government and public sector responsiveness

In economics, productivity is measured by the efficient ability of people, businesses, and other participants in the economy to turn inputs into outputs. A country’s level of productivity directly determines the standard of living of its citizens. To achieve high levels of productivity, countries create infrastructure, advance their technologies, generate employment opportunities for their citizens, and foster sustainable practices through engineering as a source that drives economic growth.

Every nation therefore has an engineering technology strategy that prioritises its industry productivity. In this piece, as a social engineer, I will focus on the centrality of engineering to the well-being and economic development of Nigeria rather than the means of measuring productivity; I will leave the latter to economists.

In 2050, the world will undergo significant changes due to the rapid technological and engineering advancements. With two-thirds of the projected 9 billion global population living in cities, means of living will also evolve. Modern transportation, advanced technologies, and sustainable smart cities will be prevalent. However, most African countries have yet to catch up with the West’s 19th-century advancements in engineering and technology. It is uncertain how Africa, with its current growth pace, political will, transparent budgeting, honest leadership, and commitment to technology development, will hold a stake in the future of the world.

Nigeria’s steel sector, crucial for engineering and construction, has been underinvested in for 45 years, with only light mills for small-scale fabrication and iron rod production. This lack of progress is concerning as Nigeria aims to manufacture “made in Nigeria” machinery, cars, construction equipment, and domestic appliances without an advanced and productive steel industry.

With just twenty-six years left until 2050, it is indeed doubtful how we intend to develop engineering materials with improved properties that enable the creation of efficient products of the future.

Nigeria needs engineering advancement to address complex local challenges in security and manufacturing sectors, as well as to address rising food insecurity. Advanced technologies are needed to identify potential threats, ensure fast responses, deter criminal behaviour, and capture crucial evidence. Science, technology, and innovation are also needed to improve agricultural productivity, reduce costs, enhance food quality, and ensure Nigeria’s capacity to feed its people and region.

Nigeria’s engineering industry needs to invest in cutting-edge advancements and skills to position it at the forefront of innovation, technological prowess, and green solutions. To survive in an evolving world, Nigeria must become a known engineering hub, defined by precision in engineering. This should extend beyond assembling cars or importing equipment for political empowerment projects, to manufacturing core components of products that make human existence easier.

A successful engineering ecosystem requires collaboration between governments, academia, research institutions, and industries through learning and innovation. Nigeria’s 1999 Constitution allows for the establishment of institutions for scientific and technological research, allowing subnational governments to prioritise and leverage engineering technology to improve productivity and prosperity. The improvement of the standard of living depends on governments at all levels advancing modern engineering technologies that enhance efficiency and productivity, thereby increasing output per worker and enhancing the overall productivity of the nation.

While the private sector has a huge role to play, government leadership must make informed choices and decisions to close the existing engineering skill gap. We must invest in engineering technicians and technologists for hands-on application of technical expertise to engineering tasks in a wide range of industries, including agricultural engineering. The most important role of the government is to create an enabling and attractive investment environment for investors, both local and foreign, to invest in the technology and engineering sectors in Nigeria. The Council for the Regulation of Engineering in Nigeria (COREN), the Ministry of Technology, and other relevant government agencies must go beyond regulation and control of engineering practice to ensure a national engineering policy and strategy plan for innovation in the engineering space.

More importantly, as we strive to solve Nigeria’s prolonged problem of poor productivity that has created complex economic roots, we must be in consensus that it demands an equally deliberate, multi-faceted, long-term, and fierce response. This is not a convenient time for window dressing of the problem; we either become known and renowned for our productivity in engineering or continue to tag along at the tail end of human history. In the final analysis, Nigeria cannot truly develop without engineering, science, and technology. Whatever you do, we are all engineers in our own rights. Let us re-engineer a productive Nigeria that works for everyone.

God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.