VP’s Remarks At Centre For Lion Gadgets & Technologies Conference

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It is a pleasure to be here with you all this morning at the Lion Gadgets & Technologies Conference. Reverend Father Edward Anoliefo thank you very much for your kind invitation. And I must also commend the Centre for the excellent work of innovation and creativity that is being done. I was excited to hear that some of the work being done for post-harvest losses and the innovation in 3-D Printing, and so many other areas that Fr. Anoliefo mentioned.  It is also exciting to see so many young people gather for this very important conversation on: “Technological Innovation for Holistic Sustainable Development”.


Development is obviously an important metric for measuring progress but as opposed to growth, it speaks to actual improvement in the quality of life and living standards. But the conference theme today goes even further, it speaks of sustainable development, in other words, the aim is not development at all costs. In fact, in the words of the United Nations, “sustainable development, is the development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” As students, as young people, I want you to really think about what that means. Effectively, unless we all commit to developing sustainably, our futures and perhaps more yours than mine since I am an old man compared to you will be at risk.


So in thinking about solutions to our developmental issues we are expected to be both creative, relevant and ingenious, which is what innovation is all about. But we must also be faithful stewards of our environment, we must be inclusive, innovation must be accessible to all especially the poor and vulnerable.


So, innovating for sustainable development involves creating environmentally friendly low cost and contextually relevant technological solutions to our most pressing challenges. Recently the Nigeria Climate Innovation Center recently concluded its Climate LaunchPad, and some very innovative ideas were unveiled. One of the innovator companies New Digits generates power from water, the product uses water and conformed solar cells to generate energy for electricity and cooking. It actually works by collecting water automatically from any piping channel in the house, breaks down the water into Hydrogen which is used to cook and to power the entire house without the need for batteries of any kind.


Power Stove Energy, founded by three young Nigerians, Okey, Abdulaezze and Glory. What they did was that they produced a low-cost, clean smokeless cookstove. Powerstove Energy is the first clean cookstove to be fitted with self-powered Internet of Things (IoT) cloud system to monitor in real-time, every day that cooking is done, the amount of Co2 that is used and biomass saved, Black Carbon prevented and total electricity generated. All of that is monitored in real-time every day.


Our digital age, technology is a key part of these solutions. When we look at human capital development for example, everyone is turning to technology in search of new ways to solve age-old problems. So, we have health tech firms like 54Gene who are using technology to harness African genomic data and transform how we are able to study and diagnose diseases. This is so that you can grow up in a society where healthcare research can serve you better, an illustrative example of how technological innovation can be used for sustainable development.


In education too, Covid-19 has shown us just how adaptive we can be and there are a number of ed-tech firms such as uLesson, where students can take lessons and tests on an app. If scaled, this could revolutionize how we approach challenges to do with access to education.


We are in one of the worst health and economic crises in living memory and our recovery must be innovative – we must employ never-before-seen methods to fight the never-before-seen plethora of issues before us. Whether we are discussing the delivery of social services to vulnerable communities and promoting financial inclusion or we are talking about boosting agricultural productivity and promoting the security of our communities, how we harness technology is crucial. The future will be decided in groups such as yours, in centres such as yours, where young Nigerians are actively thinking about how to deploy technology in creative ways for problem-solving.


We must creatively imagine and pioneer our way out and as some of our country’s best and brightest, you are perfectly positioned to show us all the way.


I was asked to give a ‘word of encouragement’ to you today but might I say, it is I who feels encouraged just by being in your presence this morning. I am encouraged by your creative potential (we’ve already heard just a bit of that from Fr. Anoliefo), your willing and brilliant minds and your dedication to the sustainable development of our society. And am certainly looking forward to the outcome of the discussions at this conference


I hope that you all have a wonderful conference and that you take the solutions and discussions that you have here and put them back into the world for the betterment of us all.


I listened to the chairman of the session when he talked about the relationship between industry and university, and that it is a weak relationship. I agree with you entirely, Mr Chairman, that relationship is a weak one, and ought to be strengthened, but it will not take just government. A lot of these things, also, will require the university system to do a bit more with linking up with industry. Government is prepared but the university needs to do more by being proactive in the links with industry. Industry, as you know, is interested in commerce. If it will make profit and money, industry is interested.


I think that a lot of the innovations we are seeing are certainly profitable and can be lucrative. But where the government can come in is where there are needs for additional support to make the research easier or cheaper for the public to access. So, I certainly look forward to the cooperation between the Federal Government and the University of Nigeria.


I was at the University of Nigeria in 2018, and we had discussions around this issue of technology, I even had a chance to look at some of the University establishments (I am not so sure if it was the Centre), and there was a lot of talk about technology and innovation at the time and the sort of support, I believe, the Chinese were giving.


But I am really excited about the work that you are doing and I certainly pledge to be a part of it in whatever way you think it will be relevant.


Thank you once again for giving me the opportunity to say a few words. I wish you very fruitful deliberations.


God bless you.