A Nigerian professor has said that lack of collaboration between higher institutions and companies was working against engineering development in the country.
“There is hardly any research collaboration between industries and academia,” Linus Asuquo, a professor of engineering, said on Friday in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, during an engineering conference organised by the Uyo branch of the Nigeria Society of Engineers.
“An industry CEO once told me that engineering faculties in the country are not well equipped for research that is why they don’t bother them.”
Mr Asuquo heads the National Metallurgical Development Centre (NMDC), Jos, which is under the Ministry of Mines and Steel Development.
He also identified lack of coordination and commercialisation of research as another obstacle to engineering development in the country.
He said besides universities and other higher institutions, some Nigerian companies have been involved in research which has helped them to develop new products.
“Every research institute or tertiary institution or faculty of engineering has one innovation or the other. The question is how many of these innovations or research findings have been commercialized? How many of these researches have been popularised?”
Mr Asuquo said the rejection of vehicles from Innoson Vehicle Manufacturing Company by the National Assembly members in 2019 was a setback for local inventions and innovations.
He argued that Nigeria would not be able to reach a significant level in engineering innovation and sustainable development if local research and development are not patronised
“When Nigeria’s R&D expenditures continue to be a paltry sum of 0.13223% (or slightly higher) of the country’s GDP, do not expect significant break-through in engineering innovation,” he added.
Mr Asuquo said the NMDC has made significant contributions to innovations and sustainable development in Nigeria.
“At a time when Nigerians were made to believe that Itakpe iron ore cannot be utilized at Delta Steel Company, a research Committee was set up spearheaded by NMDC, Jos. The Committee was able to process Itakpe iron ore into super concentrate, which was used at Delta company for producing direct reduced iron, and then processed into steel using electric arc furnace.
“The Centre was able to produce a super concentrate of 68%Fe. It was a great feat,” he said.
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Continuing, Mr Asuquo said, “The only tin metal producing facility in Nigeria became moribund in the 1990s – that was Makeri Tin Smelting Company located in Anglo-Jos in those days.
“NMDC designed a tin smelting furnace and a tin refining unit and constructed it with sustainable features like emission cleaning accessories to capture escaping particles, and a process to recycle slags to recover valuables like niobium and tantalum. All the materials used in the construction of the tin smelter were sourced locally including the refractories that were used for the furnace lining. The smelter is used for tin metal production from cassiterite ore sourced locally in Jos.
“The Centre through her research efforts developed and commercialised ANO wire drawing lubricant, a powdered lubricant for wire drawing and nails production. This lubricant was supplied to local factories producing nails in Aba and Lagos until the companies went moribund and there was no place to supply the product.”