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Stakeholders identify poor knowledge, direction as bane of Africa’s economic woes

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By Gabriel Chy Alonta & Lawrence Nwimo

Stakeholders and experts in multidisciplinary fields have singled out dearth of innovative ideas, knowledge and lack of direction as reasons for the underdevelopment of economies of African countries.

This was made known at the 2nd International Multidisciplinary Conference of Anambra State Polytechnic (ANSPOLY), Mgbakwu, held in collaboration with the Centre for Advanced Arts, Science, Social and Management Research (CAASSMR).

The experts brainstormed on ways to turnaround Africa’s economic misfortune and harness opportunities to compete favourable among the comity of nations in technological advancement, innovation and discoveries.

The 3-day programme themed, “Knowledge, technology and innovation for Africa’s transformation,” also called for enactment of policies that would nurture innovative ideas, economic recovery and rapid industrialization.

The Keynote Speaker and Vice-Chancellor of Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Prof Charles Esimone, noted that Africa’s speed and level of development is less than desirable and that that the continent had failed to toe the path of transformation needed to turn around its economic fortune. He said knowledge, technology and innovation have repeatedly been trapped and not given a place to thrive in the Nigeria society.

Esimone said Africa is not only short of innovative ideas and knowledge but lacks the political will to engage in projects that would be beneficial to its economy.

The vice-chancellor did not hide the fact that Africa is naturally endowed with resources and regretted that the continent has failed to wake from slumber to amass wealth from such resources. Giving the statistics, he informed that the continent had mustered only three per cent in the world GDP despite its accounting 17 per cent population of the world.

Esimone, who said there was need for structural transformation, among other things, emphasised need to lift emphasis placed on certificates in the country’s criteria for employment to encourage skills and innovation and industrialization across the region.

Delivering the lead paper on “Scientific knowledge and technological innovation for Africa development,” the Rector, Federal Polytechnic, Oko, Engr Fransisca Nwafulugo, challenged countries in Africa to leverage on their wealth and join the comity of western nations in the technological trend.

Nwafulugo was represented at the event by the Polytechnic’s Director of Research, Dr. Nnamdi Umezinwa, who enumerated statistics that portrayed Africa’s failures in global development project. She said countries like Nigeria must emulate China in turning their vast population to source of wealth instead of being dumping ground for inferior materials from western counterparts.

Speaking on the “Imperatives for Africa’s transformation through knowledge management, ” a Professor of English and World Literatures, Chinalum Nwankwo said Nigerians were deprived space and facilities to develop at their own pace. He said there was need to get general mediocrity out of the way and enshrine sanity, adding that Nigeria needs to wake up from its economic slumber and join other countries aggressively in the transformation mission.

Earlier, ANSPOLY Rector, Dr. Nneka Mefoh, said academic conferences are necessary symposia that drive researchers to be committed to their work, stating that epoch innovations are products of interaction of the mind.

According to her, “the conference is not limited to the presentation of results of research work carried out in various fields, networking among researchers for future collaborations, multicultural interaction and socialization but cut across research, visiting other terrains, relaxation, among others.”

Mefoh stated that academic researches have a lot to offer society, and stressed that polytechnic education has to place emphasis on technology and practical. She said the Polytechnic had recorded landmark achievements in agricultural researches.

Also, Prof Williams Obiozor, the Director, Centre for Disabilities and Special Needs Research, Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, said the problem of Africa today was still in knowledge and technology. He said Africa still grapples with technological trends, which, he said, was the standards of the international community.

Obiozor said the conference was timely and would address issues that had faced the academia. He said the event of the nature sharpens the minds of the youths who are the future leaders of the country.

The Public Relations Officer of the Polytechnic and Master Compere of the conference, Chukwuanu Okagbue, Anipr, disclosed that the conference was preceded by a workshop themed, “The mid-point between Academic Research and Technologically-driven Economic,” and anchored by Prof. Charles Ezeibe. Presentation of awards to deserving personalities was the high point of the conference.

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