INNOVATION AND NATIONAL TRANSFORMATION
The World has evolved from different eras and shifts, from the Agrarian to the Industrial then the Technological and we have now entered the Innovation or Information era and shift which is more revealing, amazing, dynamic, rapid, strategic and fast.
In this shift and era things are done through ideas, and information is highly valued as it has continued to evolve new techniques, directions and strategies to business, health, industrial services, telecommunications ,energy services, information technology, improvised social networking technology, and agricultural development.
What makes Nations relevant now is their input and approach to solving the challenges of the Globe which are increasing daily and will need mind-blowing ideas that bring solutions that are sustainable to human development.
Information, Research and Development are the key tools for this age and in this era of information, Wise Nations are Nations that embrace and value research and innovation, knowing that this has a long-term value with sustainable development as the focus and Goal.
Finland is one example of a Nation that values research and innovation, branded as one of the Leading innovative nation in Europe, Finland is well above EU average and all other countries when it comes to innovation and this has really transformed the country to become a key player in the globe.
Finland is the home to worldwide acclaimed and highly sought after phone 'Nokia', the cell-phone giant is a major source of innovation and startups. The country was rated as at 2009 Global index analysis as number 7 in the Leading innovative countries chart of the World, with GDP of $201.2bl and the $121.9bl.
Switzerland is the second example of a leading innovative Nation, and its value for Research has positioned it as a leader in Pharmaceuticals, and also food research with great companies like Novartis (Pharmaceutical)Roche(Pharmaceutical) and Nestle (Food and Beverage).The GDP level of Switzerland is $309.9billion while the Foreign Direct Investment is $621.7bl ranked number 3 by Global Index.
South Korea is the third example of an innovative country that has valued research and development and has become a transformed Nation with high tech developed sectors of the economy. The country has often promoted joint research and development between state think tanks and large conglomerates, and has emerged as a leading innovator of electronics and telecommunications products. It is also working tirelessly to become a leading Nation in the green technologies, by embarking on 'Green New Deal' projects worth some $35 billion by 2012.
The country aims to increase it's R&D spendings to 5% of it's GDP by 2012, from 3.4% in 2007. South Korea is now emerging as a key technology hub that is home to electronic products 'LG', and 'KIA' automobiles with a fast growing technology drive that has transformed the economy and redirect the business markets there.
Watt Humphrey once stated that 'Innovation is the ability to turn ideas into manufacturable and marketable form' for a nation to experience economic transformation it must be able to nurture and develop an innovative culture which helps to value research and development techniques that can develop the economy.
Nigeria is endowed with abundant human resources who have mind blowing ideas that can transform the economy, unfortunately most of them are abroad, thinking and planning for other economies when Nigeria is still working very hard to get its socio-economic rhythm and strategies, straight and correct.
I believe it is time to look beyond the past setbacks in terms of technology and set a new direction for the future, by increasing funding for Research and Development and the establishment of the Innovation Development Fund(IDF), which will cater for research and development of new technologies that can solve the growing challenges of the Nigerian Nation which include renewable energy, alternative power solutions, Nigerian built and designed automobiles and Telecommunication products etc.
South Korean President Lee Myung Bak has shown an example by leading South Korea quest for green technologies leadership and is also streamlining regulations and policies to help accelerate innovation in the country, which means Nigeria's to be relevance in the 21st century will be a direct function of her passion to value and own the innovation drive in Africa.
President Goodluck Jonathan and his team, can set the pace for 'the innovation drive' that can reposition Nigeria as a leading technology player in Africa. We are in the age of information and also a period were ideas changes the economic landscape of a Nation, and so cannot afford to have a poor Government Policy approach for Innovation.
There is also need for Government to engage in a Public/Private sector partnership that would see the completion of strategic technology parks that will create opportunities for the youth to develop their skills and also a hub for gainful research and development, Canada, India, Sweden, South Korea, and Switzerland have these parks and are now economically viable Nations.
Currently there are laudable Technology projects like the Science and Technology park project in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State and Abuja Science and Technology park projects, which I believe have been designed to position Nigeria as an Innovation driver and a technology hub for Africa. It is my hope that this projects and other technological and research-based projects will be completed, so that the innovative capacity of the youth will be developed to secure a bright future for Nigeria.
Ottoabasi Abasiekong is a Public Affairs Analyst