Setting Development Agenda for a New Nigeria: Technology Transfer and Foreign Policy as Instruments – THISDAYLIVE – THISDAY Newspapers

Bola A. Akinterinwa 
“Setting Development Agenda for a New Nigeria: International Technology Transfer 
and Foreign Policy as Instruments” was the title of the First Public Lecture organised by the Lead City University’s Faculty of Engineering and Technology, on Friday, 23rd June, 2023. It was held at the international Conference Centre of the university and chaired by Ambassador Chandramouli Kumar Kern, the Consul General of India, Lagos. The lecture was delivered by Professor Bola A. Akinterinwa, of the Political Science Department of the Achievers University, Owo, Ondo State. Engineer Dr. Babatunde S. Emmanuel, the Acting Dean, of the Faculty of Engineering and Technology played host to the event. The lecture was interesting from the perspective of how to use international technology transfer and foreign policy to build a new Nigeria. Amb. Chandramouli Kumar Kern gave an account of how technology transfer has been critical to the development of India, especially in the pharmaceutical sector, and how comparatively Nigeria can do same to remain a giant that she really is.
As further explained by Dr. Babatunde Emmanuel, the organisation of the lecture is explained by three main considerations: generate innovative intellectual intervention for the purpose of national policy re-orientation, ‘usher the newly inaugurated government of Nigeria both at the state and national levels to prepare them for the task of techno-economic development and good governance,’ and to invite a ‘deliberate intellectual engagement with respect to Nigeria’s foreign policy re-direction at the level of global diffusion of Technology from the advanced nations to the developing economies such as Nigeria.’
And perhaps more noteworthy, Dr. Emmanuel had it that ‘as part of the intellectual efforts towards national technology policy reorientation for relevant stakeholders in the new administration of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the public lecture will provide a platform for timely engagement of policy makers and set the development for the Nigeria of our dream, with particular focus on national policy on international technology transfer.’
Without doubt, the lecture raised a number of observations regarding the environmental conditionings of international technology transfer to Nigeria, as well as drew attention to the type of Nigeria of our dream that should be fostered. Perhaps what is more interesting is the participation of lecturers and students from Achievers University, Owo and Adekunle Ajasin, Akungba, who were led by Dr Olatunji Olateju at the lecture. Knowledge generation as a major instrument for national development is increasingly being given emphasis.
Observations and Thrusts of Lecture
It is first observed that Nigeria must ‘technologise’ in a special manner in order to be able to respond to international development challenges. The main reason here is that fighting re-colonisation can no longer be done in the old way which required carrying anti-colonial battles through violent protests to the door steps of the colonial masters. The current situational reality requires a priori that Nigeria engages in the acquisition of modern technology by whatever means, by self-made efforts or by invited transfer.
Secondly, no one wants to freely share technology and trade secrets. It has even been posited that development is far-fetched for non-manufacturing countries, and that manufacturing is a prerequisite for development. In other words, transfer of technology is more meaningful for countries that already have a modicum of technological know-how. And perhaps more interestingly, George Beekman and Ben Beekman have argued that the promise of the future lies not in technology but in all the students of the world.
Besides, technology transfer is often fraught with dirty international politics. The management of technology business necessarily requires foreign policy intervention, especially in terms of needed assistance to protect foreign investments, avoidance of double taxation, guaranteed repatriation of business dividends, as well as application of relevant official diplomacy and citizen diplomacy where necessary. 
Thirdly, it may be difficult to set an agenda for a new Nigeria that we know very little about. Is there any clear idea of a Nigeria of our dream that is agreed to by majority or consensus? What really is the Nigeria of our dream? Should there be a national debate on which Nigeria to have and promote? And perhaps more interestingly, setting a development agenda for a new Nigeria cannot but be difficult unless the factor of newness is first re-defined in the context of changes-in-continuity and not necessarily in terms of continuity-and-change. 
A new Nigeria can be interpreted to imply new mentality, new behavioural attitude at the  level of citizens and new political party behaviour. In other words, New Nigeria may not mean a simple redefinition of Nigeria in terms of change of population, territorial size, and change of government. A New Nigeria must have a New Nigerian personality, with a new character and modern-day technology-driven attitudinal disposition towards a sociological nation-building.
Fourthly, there are Nigerians but there is no notion of Nigeria in them. It is a case of  having Nigerians without Nigeria, no commitment to Nigeria but to ethnic communities. 
Consequently, setting a technology-driven development agenda for people on whose minds Nigeria and patriotism does not exist cannot but be futile, meaning that a serious homework  must first be done on the minds of the so-called Nigerians.
As regards the thrusts of the lecture, it is posited that the garment of individual and  institutional corruption, toga of irrationalities, dishonesty of purpose, and ethnic chauvinism must first be thrown into the garbage of history by all Nigerians; a new mentality must be  evolved and an agenda setting must be collectively conceived, collectively designed, collectively negotiated, collectively implemented, and collectively evaluated without anyone  having to lay claim to being superior to one another;
And based on the foregoing, the international technology to be acquired and the  relevant foreign policy instrument to be adopted in the making of the New Nigeria must enable the making of grandeur du Nigéria, that is, the making of a greater Nigeria, the greatness of Nigeria. The New Nigeria must be a Nigeria with un-parallel military power, second to none in Africa and respected internationally even if it is by force of necessity. It must be a Nigeria of primus inter pares that is economically vibrant and that will be the leader of a re-defined Africa in which its citizens are not subject to xenophobic attacks. Please note at this juncture my own understanding of a re-defined Africa or my concept of new Africa: it is Africa without the north or Maghrebin Africa.
The New Nigeria must be one that will be nationally and internationally sustained as the world capital of the whole black people of the world. At the epicentre of any development agenda setting must be the establishment of a National Mega City for Technology and Scientific Research and Development in all ramifications, with an attendant foreign policy of a greater Nigeria. Without doubt, the intellectual challenge of the lecture is how to use international technology and foreign policy as instruments to set a development agenda for a new Nigeria. It is within the context of this mega city that technology development for self-reliant  purposes should take place and that issues of national unity can also be meaningfully addressed;
Finally the lecture submits in conclusion that Nigeria must technologise in all  ramifications as a counter-response to current global efforts to recolonize Africa through changing technology. The Federal Government of Nigeria must set aside, at least fifty square kilometres of land space for the establishment of the National Mega City for Technology and Scientific Research and Development (NMC-TSRD) as a pivotal basis for further global  development of African and black dignity. In this regard, a foreign policy of a greater Nigeria that will be largely driven by modern-day technology cannot but be a desideratum. The National Mega City, structurally, should be a city divided into villages and research sectors. The villages should be for various disciplines: medical village, ICT Village, Engineering Village, Social Science Village, History Village, Sports Village, National language development Village, Africa Village, Nigeria Village, etc. The villages are to have research facilities for the various sub-disciplines.
The villages should not only be a depository for all doctoral theses in Nigeria and an intellectual clearing house for doctoral researchers and doctoral titles, but should also be a special centre for Nigerian academics at home and in the Diaspora to spend their sabbatical years for continuous research and development. A foreign policy of a Greater Nigeria that will be largely driven by modern-day technology must be part of a focused agenda setting and must represent all the constituent states of Nigeria. 
The main responsibility of the National Technology Research Mega City, should be to harmonise the activities of the various institutes and colleges of technology, and departments of technology studies in the various universities in the country. This cannot but be the first mother of all technology development agenda setting in a New Nigeria. Indeed, technology development agenda setting is one thing, but what about the processes of technology acquisition and transfer? The Lead City has itself identified many challenges facing techno-economic development in the present-day Nigeria: inadequate intellectual engagements at the level of global politics of international technology transfer; alleged international conspiracy to keep African nations technologically under-developed; indiscriminate dumping of technology products in the developing societies as distinct from outright transfer of technology; and sustained inconsistency in the implementation of national policy for techno-economic development of Nigeria. In other words, what is the situation with technology transfer in international practice?
Technology Transfer in International Practice 
Technology transfer in international business practice is quite interesting because of  its unstable environment and different operational levels. Technology transfer is an integral part of the process of technological innovation. It is defined as the process of transferring the results of scientific and technological research to the marketplace and to a larger segment of society. Technology transfer that occurs internationally and across international borders is referred to as international technology transfer. In this regard, technology transfer or transfer of technology is a relationship between the pioneer owner or holder of technology who intends to share or transfer its intellectual property and another person who wants to acquire the intellectual property for further purposes of transformation and invention. Explained differently, technology transfer is the act of transferring technology from one owner to an aspiring user for greater improvement and services to the larger society.
As Ciborowski and Skrodzka have it, nations that actively pursue international technology transfer do have great, if not greatest, economic impact and also create the best conditions for the development of new products and procedures using acquired technologies. Talking about creation of best conditions is also saying that the environment of technology development must be friendly and not inclement. In the same vein, it is argued that efforts must be made to minimize barriers to the transfer of technology across borders, especially in achieving national independence and development.
Without doubt, transfer of technology has become a major concern in international economic relations. Increasing global emphasis is being placed on economic policies to attract and keep the flow of foreign direct investments for national development and self-reliance, which is an evidence of consideration of international technology transfer as one of the primary sources of knowledge and economic growth worldwide. There are four main levels of transfer of technology. The first level is the challenge of knowledge and technology creation, which must first exist before anything else can be done with it. In this regard, technology ordinarily means the study of tech which is a shorter word for technical, which generally refers to scientific knowledge, machines and methods used in science and industry. Technology exists differently in type. Depending on the sector of application, we can differentiate between electrical, energy, medical, mechanical, transportation, manufacturing and communication, technology.
The second level is the act of transference of the technology which can also take different forms: sales of patents and designs, joint ventures, turnkey contracts, technical know-how, industrial cooperation, technical services, trade secret and data transfer, etc. In this regard, the transfer can have an internal character, that is, intra-firm or inter-firm transfer.  The transfer of technology is still considered intra-firm when the international branches of the same pioneer owner firm are the recipients of the technology. Inter-firm technology transfer is when the exchange of technology is between one firm and another completely different firm. Grosso modo, technology transfer is not always easily and freely done.
The third level is the implementation process, that is, the process of translating the knowledge into manufactured products. Explained differently, technology is first a scientific knowledge, an idea, a sort of know-how. Implementation process is about how to make the knowledge empirically concrete. The fourth level is that of commercialisation, the marketing of the products.
  Without doubt, all these methods of technology transfer are guided by specific policies adopted by the owners of the technology. Many countries employ different policies, which are either voluntary or compulsive, to attract foreign direct investment to promote the transfer of foreign technology. These include absorptive capacities for ITT that enable maximising the benefits from ITT.  As revealed by some scholars, technology transfer policy alone may not be adequate and should rather be complemented with indigenous absorptive capacity development policies.  Nikièma, S.H., in his Requirements in Investment Treaties, Best Practices Series  (The International Institute for Sustainable Development, December 2014),  identified lack of absorptive capacity of indigenous companies as a main factor for slow rate of transfer and diffusion of technology and lack of evidence of positive impacts on the economies of developing countries. Thus, local firms cannot but be expected to benefit from technology transfer when governments in their countries take policy actions to improve local firms’ absorptive capacity and human capital. 
They also include technology-related FDI promotion and facilitation, technology-related investment incentives, ITT-related outbound investment, administrative requirements, technology-related performance requirements, foreign Direct Investments restrictions, and intellectual property Right policies relating to ITT. In light of this, the most critical agenda setting cannot but be on political attitudes. Greater emphasis should be placed on solar technology development agenda. For instance, the International Energy Agency (IEA) has it that Africa accounts for 60% of the world’s best solar resources, but only 1% of solar generation capacity. This is one particular area that should warrant a special development agenda setting. 
Verification technology is another area of interest that should warrant special agenda setting. Verification technology is particularly needed in public governance because of institutional corruption and rampant forgeries. Verification technology helps to detect fake products, fake medicine, fake certificates, etc. Politico-economic restructuring agenda cannot but also be a top priority. In this regard, the Nigeria Police Force should be completely decentralised: State Police and Community policing system should be created, in consonance with the spirit of true federalism.
State policing is a necessity because on January 13, 2000, then President Olusegun Obasanjo sent a letter to Senator Bola Tinubu in his capacity as Governor of Lagos State in which President Obasanjo said ‘he had not seen any action on his part in recent past to suggest that you (Tinubu) are in control of the security situation in Lagos State. On the contrary, there is evidence of increasing disorder, loss of lives and property and general sense of fear among the citizens of Lagos State.’ The response of Senator Tinubu was quite interesting: ‘the requisite arm of government in control of the relevant security agencies should simply wake up to its responsibilities.’ Additionally, Governor Tinubu said that the members of the President’s party, PDP, should not seize the opportunity of the situation in Lagos ‘to try to get through a state of emergency what they failed to win through the ballot box.’ President Obasanjo’s letter and Governor Tinubu’s reply clearly show the need for the establishment of state police and community police.
Another top priority should be the Southeast-Southwest rail infrastructure development agenda. The route is a major economic business road connecting major manufacturing cities. Rail system facilitates the carriage of very heavy goods, fast movement of passengers, fast movement of exportable products and reduces road traffic congestions. Above all, the need for a 21st Century National Mega City for Technology and Scientific Research Development in Nigeria remains the mother of all technology development agenda setting that should begin under the President Bola Ahmed Tinubu administration and that should be continuously sustained by subsequent administrations until, at least, the next fifty years. Historical record of all scientific research findings should be stored, kept and updated nationally for posterity. Researches on new technologies should be centrally determined, conducted and managed. By so doing, a national culture of research and development will be evolved and applied in the building of a new Nigeria of our dream. In this regard, private universities in Nigeria, like the Lead City University and the Achievers University, should provide leadership and more critical thinking on the take-off of the new National Mega City for technology development in Nigeria. 
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