NASENI Boosting Nigeria’s Quest to Leapfrog Industrialisation

When the National Agency for Science and Engineering Infrastructure (NASENI) was established in 1992, it significantly raised Nigeria’s hope of leapfrogging industrial development via innovation and reverse engineering.

NASENI’s mandate include, inter alia: To conduct developmental work in the areas of manufacturing, coordinating the proliferation of technologies developed either within or outside of its centres including patents obtained.

Transfer of technologies developed in the areas of spares, components and system engineering to entrepreneurs for the production of goods and services.

The Chief Executive Officer of NASENI, Prof. Mohammed Haruna, recently appraised the activities of the agency saying it was making multisectoral impact in the country.

Haruna said that President Muhammadu Buhari had directed NASENI to produce more solar cells to boost the alternative power sources in the country.

He said that the president also directed the implementation of modular irrigation project and the production of more farm implements, to boost agricultural activities.

“The president is impressed that NASENI is delivering on its mandate. I gave him the usual quarterly briefing and he is happy with what we have done in this quarter.

“Therefore, he has directed us to do more, particularly in the modular irrigation project that we are commencing from Adamawa, the solar cells production and also agricultural implements.”

On the power sector, the NASENI boss said that the agency had been able to impact on the power sector, leading to the establishment of a factory in Karshi, Abuja.

According to him, the factory has the capacity to produce 7.5 megawatts of solar energy.

“Through our research and development activities in solar, it is so successful that through local innovations we now have a factory, 7.5 megawatts capacity limited liability company.

“The company is 100 per cent owned by government in Karshi-Abuja, producing solar modules of highest quality.

“These modules are installed in many places, we have dealers who buy these and distribute and we participate in installations in private and government buildings.

“7.5 megawatts cannot meet the needs of the nation and that is not making the price of solar power affordable because the cells used are imported.

“Solar cells are products of silicon and silicon is obtained from silica, which is nothing other than the sand that we have abandoned,” he said.

He said this informed the president’s approval for the agency to obtain the facility from China in order to achieve 100 per cent made in Nigeria products.

“When that is done, solar power supply will be affordable because the most expensive component is the cells,” he said.

On security, Haruna said that a unit of the agency, the Nigerian Machine Tools Osogbo, Osun, also produces protective wares for security men.

He said that the company was also in the process of assembling armoured personnel carriers, in collaboration with Azerbaijan and Indonesia.

“The Nigerian Machine Tools Osogbo has been doing a lot in the production of protective wares; anti-ballistic helmets, and other bullet proof vests and boots among others.

“With NASENI’s collaboration with Indonesia and Azerbaijan, we have trained people on how to assemble armoured personnel carriers as well as produce certain components of the carrier,” he said.

Haruna also said that NASENI had trained Nigerians for mass production of helicopters.

He said that two helicopters successfully produced, were awaiting accreditation by the Nigerian Aviation Authority before it could start flying.

“The helicopter project of NASENI is a technology we copied from Belgium and also from Indonesia.

“We imported after training staff on all aspects of it, from design to production to assembly, repairs and maintenance.

“After they qualified, including pilots, we assembled two helicopters, which we bought CKD from these places and assemble it with a view of producing the parts by part, to have a wholly or fully made in Nigeria helicopter.

“Now, these helicopters in the helipad and hanger, were developed in our site in Karishi where our solar manufacturing plant is.”

He, said, however, that for expansion, the president had approved the projects to be relocated to Nigeria Air Force Institute of Technology, Kaduna, because of the already developed facilities there in order not to reinvent the wheel.

Haruna said that the agency moulded what companies like Innoson needed in the production of spare parts in commercial quantity.

“However, if there is a unique car, in which only one item of the spare part is needed, instead of mass production, we do produce it because we have facility to recycle scrap metal and molten iron ductile iron even alloys and use it with our moulds to give us the shape and size of any component and machine appropriately, because we use computer aided manufacturing and design.’’

Haruna also revealed that the agency produced laboratory equipment for science students in primary, secondary and tertiary institutions across the country.

On agriculture, he said that the president had approved N24 billion for NASENI for the execution of a smart modular irrigation project.

More so, Haruna said the statutory one percent of the federation account meant to be drawn for its running was dedicated to execution of some priority projects that had been approved by government.

“The application of these funds is in some priority projects approved by government; the capital components include payment of 15 per cent of the local counterpart funding for three key projects in the power sector; the development and production of solar cells locally; development and production of electric power transformers and the third one is high voltage testing laboratory.

“Now, these are projects with 85 per cent funding support from China, which is part of what is approved and being implemented in the 2021/2022 Borrowing Plan.

“ That is number one and in that, out of the 48.79 million dollars representing 15 per cent of what Nigeria is paying as the 15 per cent counterpart funding based on the money remitted to NASENI in the first and third quarters, 23.9 million dollars had been remitted in these two quarters.

He said that the other areas of application of the fund included the development and domestication of technologies NASENI had acquired from a partnering organisation in Italy, de Lorenzo.

According to Haruna, the partnership with de Lorenzo is the production of technical science laboratory equipment for primary schools, secondary schools and tertiary institutions.

“The third component is the development of skills development centres in six geopolitical zones.

“For now, one each per zone; the fourth component of application of this fund is in the development of three out of 12 new centres approved by the president for different states of the federation and of course, continue research and development, reverse engineering and assembly of some military equipment in collaboration with two different private companies.

“The companies are the Nigeria Machine Tools Limited, Oshogbo and PROFORCE, manufacturer of some military hardware, based in Ogun, and of course, completion of the remodeled NASENI headquarters,’’ he said.

According to him, the funds have been applied to priority areas.

The NASENI boss said that President Buhari was impressed with the agency and had urged it to do more particularly in the modular irrigation projects, the solar cells production and also other agricultural implements.

Deserving no less attention, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo was excited that Nigeria had all it required to manufacture wide range of products locally.

“We are set to manufacture our own vehicles, clean energy trucks and cars, and we are on course to manufacturing our own weapons, armoured mobile platforms and aircraft; we have all it takes.

“But I believe that MSME in technology and manufacturing, especially in the clean energy or green economy, deserves special mention.

“I am convinced that this sector will be crucial in global industrial development in the coming years and will leapfrog Nigeria to economic prosperity,” Osinbajo said.

Osinbajo acknowledged the ingenuity of some of the innovators as they defined the future in terms of clean energy automobiles and precision engineering.

No doubt, the challenge of leapfrogging industrialisation is hinged not only on harnessing local talents, but exploiting requisite know-how externally.

In a tech-savvy world, techies say Nigerian scholars and researchers must show more interest in artificial intelligence, machine learning, robotics and mechatronics in order to catch up with the rest of the world.(NANFeatures)

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