Innovations and new technologies are changing the world and our daily lives. What’s important to remember is that, technology is not creating jobs; people, are, but the opportunities will not exist without technology. Innovations by entrepreneurs and their passion to make the world a better place, has given us, virtually, everything.
The promise of technology does not just drive entrepreneurship, but, also, helps solve, some of the world’s big problems, like poverty, climate change, pollution and others. There can be a great synergy, between entrepreneurship and doing good if technology is deployed for the right objectives.
Besides smarting relations and innovation in education, the emphasis for a better future, should be to encourage ordinary people, to dream up big businesses and keep the entrepreneurial spirit alive.
I recently had a discussion, with Ife Adebayo, Special Assistant to the Vice-President on Innovation and Entrepreneurship, on Tech Trends on Channels Television and he shared his opinion on how we can leverage technology, to create new jobs and lots more.
CFA: Has the ecosystem been given enough support, to provide enabling environment for innovation?
Ife: Frankly, I think we’ve had a lot of people, who, mostly, have been able to achieve what they want to achieve and do what they’ve done, in spite of the environment and the challenges, as opposed to having an environment and a system to support them. Are the people doing enough? Yes. Is the system providing enough support? Is the environment itself, ready for them? I will say, not as well as it should.
If you observed, in the last four years, the Vice-President, for example, has been very hard on this sector. He has been saying, we need to do more. We need to focus on the ease of doing business. We need to support the innovation ecosystem. We need to support the tech guys. He did the tech tour, visiting the various start-ups.
He visited Paystack, he visited Andela, all around Lagos. At some point, he was at Silicon Valley, where he met with investors, where he said to them, you need to come into the country. You need to provide more support for our ecosystem. Everywhere he speaks, he, specifically, mentions names, of people that have been doing amazing things, to show that, he is interested in the space and wants to provide that support for them and provide that foundation that was not as good, as it should have been, over time.
CFA: What additional steps, should we take, as a country, to advance innovation?
Ife: The number one thing that we need to do is, to institutionalise the support, for people, who are building innovative products, who are coming up with innovative solutions, to various challenges that we have, as a country. I will say the first things we need to do is funding. We need to look at how we can provide the right kind of financial support. We have the Bank of Industry. We have the Bank of Agriculture. We have a lot of CBN intervention programs. We have some major programs for farmers, for women, for rice, but we need a financial intervention support for this ecosystem that, allows these people, to be able to do the right things, to be able to fund the projects that they are doing.
Secondly, I think, we need to institutionalise a lot of these supports. When you look Universities, for example, virtually, every University final year project, in Nigeria of today, ends up in spiral-bind paper and in the cupboards of one lecturer or the other. You can imagine, how many solutions that we have that, are just sitting in these people’s cupboards.
You have students, who score an A and they come out with a First Class, but then, the thing ends up there, so, we need to institutionalise the support and be able to say, who are these people, innovating within our institutions and how can we take these ideas, from just being academic, to actually being commercialised. How do we move from academic success to commercial success, within those spaces?
You can watch the full interview here