LEON USIGBE reflects on the efforts of the National Agency for Science and Engineering Infrastructure (NASENI) to facilitate the development of local technologies for enhanced manufacturing in Nigeria.
Recently, President Muhammadu Buhari approved the sum of N24 billion for the National Agency for Science and Engineering Infrastructure (NASENI) to implement a smart modular irrigation project designed to improve agricultural development in the country by enabling farmers to triple per year crops to be produced year. To this end, the agency has acquired 10 hectares of farmland in Adamawa state, where it will draw water from the Benue River for the pilot project. The agency’s Executive Vice Chairman/Chief Executive Officer (EVC/CEO), Prof. Mohammed Haruna, says the technology involved will make it possible to have three multi-crop seasons in one year. President Buhari chairs the agency’s board of directors and this idea aligns with his administration’s desire to diversify the economy and restore agriculture as a mainstay.
According to Prof. Haruna, the approved money is intended for the purchase of pumps, development of the structure, agricultural techniques, but also for the farmers, the officers, the offices needed, the vehicles and the administrative management.
NASENI is the only agency with the responsibility of nurturing an appropriate and dynamic scientific and technical infrastructure foundation for achieving country-initiated and stay-at-home industrialization for the country. It has the mandate to engage in capital goods research, manufacturing and reverse engineering in six broad areas, including Advanced Manufacturing Technology (AMT), educational intervention, energy intervention, mechatronics, nanotechnology and reverse engineering.
AMT is a manufacturing technique that includes highly automated and advanced computer-controlled design and operational systems aimed at manufacturing high-quality products at low cost within the shortest lead time. As part of the education intervention, NASENI is trying to change the poor conditions in the sector by helping to improve the quality of science education in its schools at all levels. The agency’s intervention in the energy sector includes the establishment of a solar panel factory, the design and production of small hydropower turbines, pole-mounted transformers and wind turbine blades.
The other area the agency focuses on is mechatronics, a relatively new engineering field that deals with the integration of mechanics and electronics with intensive computing involvement using a multidisciplinary approach to product and manufacturing system design. It does this based on the belief that the application of Mechatronics can help increase productivity, maintain consistency in the production process and produce higher quality products with greater efficiency and flexibility, as well as lower operating costs so that the products can compete with international standards.
In recognition of the lack of expertise in nanotechnology in the country, NASENI provides support in this area of the science and technology of materials and devices the size of a billionth of a meter. The sixth area of his intervention has to do with Reverse Engineering, where a number of machines and processes are developed after redesign, developing the required skills and technology in manufacturing and mass production. Reverse Engineering is the general process of analyzing an object to determine how it is designed or how it works. The agency says they do this because the process of taking something apart and revealing how it works is often an effective way to learn how to build a new product or improve an existing one.
NASENI is setting up Transformer Plant as directed by President Buhari and in line with his administration’s industrialization agenda through economic diversification. In partnership with China Great Wall Industry Corporation (CGWIC), the agency has made arrangements to conduct the groundbreaking and foundation ceremony for the establishment of Nigeria’s first transformer factory. The cooperation has already resulted in the training of 60 NASENI engineers on the transformer production line and the high voltage test laboratory factory.
A third part of the project is the establishment of a solar cell manufacturing plant in Nigeria, aimed at popularizing renewable energy in the country. “NASENI and China would continue to work together to ensure that the Federal Republic of Nigeria’s industrialization agenda is met, which the three projects aim to kick-start the construction of a premier transformer plant in Africa. in Nigeria. We will work together as good partners to ensure that Nigeria has the best transformer factory in Africa,” assured Prof. Haruna. According to him, in order to provide permanent solutions to the power supply problem, a country must have its own high voltage testing laboratory, which is what this project is expected to achieve for Nigeria.
He explained that NASENI is deliberately directing the project in line with its mandate to provide capital goods and equipment, including machinery, to provide a solid foundation for the country’s industrial development. “We are doing this to ensure that Nigeria becomes one of the countries in the world with a constant power supply, which is an essential foundation for a true industrialization dream of the country,” he emphasized. Prof. dr. Haruna also said that due to the importance NASENI attaches to solar energy, 98 NASENI engineers will soon be trained in solar cell manufacturing in China. “The engineers will leave in September this year. If we have the solar cell factory in Nigeria, we will have constant light and even broadcast to other African countries. The benefits of having a local solar cell manufacturing plant in the country are huge,” added Prof. Haruna.
NASENI actively strives to promote growth and expansion of infrastructure, manufacturing and innovation in Nigeria leading to Made-in-Nigeria technologies and products. Under this initiative, there is a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the Federal Republic of Nigeria (represented by the agency) and the Technology Agency of the Czech Republic (TA CR) on a project called Delta-2 Project. The Chairman of the Presidential Implementation Commission for Technology Transfer between Nigeria and the Czech Republic (PICTT), Dr. Mohammed Dahiru, revealed that more than 200 Nigerian companies have applied to participate in the Delta-2 project so far, that according to the federal government as a further opportunity to diversify Nigeria’s economy from oil. According to the NASENI EVC/CEO, the three focus areas for the first phase of implementation by PICTT are agricultural machinery, machinery, manufacturing and processing, mining equipment, manufacturing and processing, and general manufacturing, with an emphasis on micro, small and medium enterprises. Prof. dr. Haruna also said that the Delta-2 program is the collaboration model that runs from 2020-2025 through which the sponsors apply research and innovation from manufacturing companies and innovative institutions. “CZK 250 million (CZK 250 million, roughly equivalent to US$10.5 million) has been allocated by the Czech government as a research fund. On behalf of the FGN, NASENI will supplement this with US$10 million,” he announced. A total of 284 public proposals for the Delta-2 program have now been submitted for screening with the themes of agriculture: 78 (27.5%), mining (4.2%) and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) 194 ( 86, 3%.
In line with the focus of the PICTT, some projects are in different stages of implementation, including the TA CR Delta 2 program for bilateral cooperation in applied research and technology transfer for agriculture, mining and general production, Smart Irrigation project/establishment of an irrigation equipment manufacturing plant and Valves & Fittings Manufacturing Company cooperation with Aqua Industrial, and establishment of Ecopanel Manufacturing Plant in cooperation with Ekopanely Czech Republic, Defense Technology Transfer Projects for the Nigerian Navy through the Ministry of Defense of the Czech Republic. NASENI is funded through the statutory 1% coming from the Federal Allocation Accounts Committee (FAAC) dedicated to the implementation of priority projects approved by the government.
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