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April 22, 2024
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Group photograph of participants at the General Assembly of West African Network of the National Academies of Sciences in Abuja on Tuesday.

Nigeria urges ECOWAS scientists to leverage STI to drive economic growth

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By Mark Longyen

Nigeria has called on the West African Network of the National Academies of Sciences (WANNAS) to leverage Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) to drive economic growth in the ECOWAS subregion.

Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation, Geoffrey Nnaji, made the call at the opening ceremony of the General Assembly of WANNAS held at the ECOWAS Commission headquarters on Tuesday in Abuja.

He said that the developed nations of the world utilised STI to get out of their initial economic woes because it was the most pivotal tool in helping to overcome contemporary global and regional economic challenges.

“This event is very important as the highest echelon of the Science, Technology and Innovation Sector of our economies will deliberate and chart a way forward for a formidable sector that would proffer solutions to our economic challenges.

“The ECOWAS subregion has immense potential waiting to be unlocked, harnessed, and propelled into the forefront of global innovation and technological advancement.

“All through history, whether in ancient or modern times, no nation has ever become truly great without paying sufficient attention to Science and Technology (S&T).’’

The minister said that President Bola Tinubu was desirous to fight hunger and poverty through the utilisation of STI through activities and programs geared towards job creation and wealth generation.

According to him, the STI ministry, through the application of various STI apparatuses, is poised to diversify the Nigerian economy, which is a major priority of the Federal Government.

Nnaji stressed that the solutions to the economic challenges of the subregion was the application of Research and Development (R&D) products, goods and services, which he described as key.

“The interdependence of West African countries innovatively calls for synergy/collaboration in all spheres of development, especially as we metamorphose to the world of sophisticated technological advancement driven by Science, Technology and Innovation.

“It is, therefore, our collective duty as a subegion to switch to STI and maximise the opportunities embedded therein, as this would strengthen our currencies and combat the exchange rate syndrome.

“The strength of every building lies in the foundation and pillars; therefore, it is the duty of the academia to lay for us a good foundation to leverage on; as the National Academies of Sciences is paramount in propagating the campaign of switch to innovation and industrialisation we yearn for,” he said.

The minister, therefore, appealed for synergy and collaboration among ECOWAS member states that would quicken their quest for sustainable economic development through the utilization of the STI sector.

Also speaking, Prof. Fatou Sarr, ECOWAS Commissioner for Human Development and Social Affairs, explained that WANNAS was a group of experts.

Sarr said it was a think-tank that could play a major role in finding solutions to numerous issues confronting the society at national, local, regional and global levels.

“The reason for our gathering today is important for the development of our countries; in fact, the living standards of a nation depend on the abundance of scientific development and technology.

“This lies in the capacity of its actors to find viable solutions to the problems of the society and contribute to the sociology-economic development of our countries,” she said.

Sarr said that ECOWAS looked forward to fruitful discussions and resolutions that would be reached at the event with concrete proposals towards the realization of ECOWAS Vision 2050 with regards to STI.

Mr Peter McGrath, Coordinator of the InterAcademy Partnership (IAP), while contributing in a goodwill message via zoom from Italy, lauded the establishment of WANNAS by ECOWAS.

“Indeed, IAP commends you on this initiative that we hope will be considered as a model for replication by other regional economic communities.

“And while the establishment of WANNAS is commendable, it should be pointed out that not all ECOWAS member countries have an academy of science.

“Indeed, it has been said that policy-making without science is only guessing;  l am pleased, therefore, that ECOWAS has acknowledged this and established WANNAS.

“It is expected to provide the required advice, based on the best available knowledge and taking into account the nuances specific to the region and help to make ECOWAS a stronger, more effective organisation,” he said.

McGrath proposed that WANNAS and ECOWAS should collaborate with their colleagues in other African countries to assist in the establishment of new academies in those countries where they were lacking.

According to the IAP Coordinator, it will contribute to ECOWAS member countries getting closer to achieving the UN 2030 Sustainable Development Goals targets.(NAN)

Edited by Chijioke Okoronkwo

Philip Daniel Yatai

Principal Correspondent, NAN Abuja
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