TETFund: Working to ensure establishment of science granting council in Nigeria

In its determination to ensure the establishment of a Science Granting Council in Nigeria, the Arc. Sonny Echono-led Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund) has organised a validation workshop on ‘Strengthening Research and Innovation Funding Agencies in West Africa.’

The two-day workshop, which drew participants from among scientists and innovators from six West African countries, was hosted at the Fund’s headquarters in Abuja, Nigeria.

One of the key takeaways from the event was the revelation by the Fund that it has spent over N23 billion on 912 research projects across the country.
Assistant Director, Research and Development (R&D) of TETFund, Dr. Hadiza Ismail, who stood in for the untiring Executive Secretary, reiterated the commitment of the interventionist agency to the establishment of a Science Granting Council in Nigeria.

She emphasised the need for effective Research, Development and Innovation (RDI) coordination for economic prosperity, societal well-being and sustainable development of the region.

It is no longer news that since his appointment, Echono has not relented in ensuring that TETFund under his leadership continues to financially support research through the National Research Fund in line with the mandate of the agency.

Attesting to this, Ismail, during the workshop, stated that the Fund was also working hard to ensure that research outputs are linked to industries to bring about the desired development.

“So far, the Fund has spent over N23 billion on about 912 research projects that have been sponsored.

“But that also gives us an insight into the need for this workshop and what we are actually talking about. Despite the fact that we have given grants to over 900 projects, we want to see how we can link these research projects to industries and get viable outcomes at the end of the day to help Nigeria move forward,” she said.

On his part, the Executive Director, African Technology Policy Studies (ATPS) Network, Prof. Nicholas Ozor, said the workshop was aimed at giving momentum to a project designed to strengthen national research councils in six West African countries.

He, however, expressed concerns about the non-existence of a national research and innovation funding agency in Nigeria. According to him, absence of such council has denied the country the ability to attract foreign grants for research.

He said: “Nigeria specifically has an issue currently because it does not have a well-recognised national research and innovation funding agency, and that is part of the reasons we are here to work with appropriate agencies and stakeholders within the science and innovation ecosystem to see how we can establish a functional science and innovation funding agency in the country.

“This is because other countries in Africa, especially Sub-Saharan Africa, already have these councils functional, and because of that, they are able to receive funding from agencies across the world to support research and development.

“Currently, TETFund is standing in as the representative council for Nigeria but what we are saying is that we should best situate the national research and innovation funding agency in an appropriate establishment that focuses on innovation such as the Ministry of Science and Innovation.”

Also speaking, the President of African University of Science and Technology (AUST), Abuja, Prof. Peter Onwualu, who harped on the importance of innovation in bringing about development, said the workshop was expected to usher in a functional science granting council in Nigeria.

“We know that in this country, we need the results of science and technology, which usually translate into innovation – innovation that can produce goods and services to make sure our economy run well but we need to have a good institutional framework for doing research in Nigeria, and that is what this entire project is all about.

“We believe the outcome of this workshop will make Nigeria have a functional science granting council that can finance and fund research in all sectors of the economy, including universities, polytechnics, research institutes, private sector organisations, SMEs and even the informal sector.

“These people you see on the streets inventing one thing or another, we need to garner support to be able to support them to move from research to goods and services,” Onwualu said.

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