How varsities can drive economic growth through innovation, by UNN’s VC Ozumba

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Intentional pursuit of knowledge and innovation are key ingredients of economic growth and national development, Vice Chancellor of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN) and Professor of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Benjamin Ozumba, said in an interview with The Guardian.

According to him, Nigeria’s quest for survival and greatness would only be achieved through economic diversification and proper investment in human resource development. “We must look beyond oil or any other commodity and invest hugely in growing an economy driven by knowledge and innovation.”

Prof. Ozumba spoke at the Vice Chancellor’s Lodge in the Nsukka campus of UNN while responding to The Guardian’s enquiry on matters arising from the school’s celebration of its Founder’s Day and 58th anniversary. The event holds every October to commemorate the establishment of UNN as the country’s first indigenous and land grant university.

The vice chancellor hinted of the need to increase investment in innovation and technology and to bridge what he referred to as the “huge gap in technology.”“The days of commodity-based economy are gone. Check all the countries that have made it today ­– China, South Korea, Israel and others; they don’t have any commodity, do they? They don’t have oil. Their economies are knowledge-driven, he explained.

Ozumba noted that while the university continues to retain its position as best in state-of-the-art libraries, seasoned professors, and reliable research outputs globally, it would continue to grow great minds committed to growing and developing Nigeria as one nation.He, however, added that the university remained committed to its unique purpose of restoring the dignity of man and uplifting the lot of the rural communities and the poor.

According to the VC, the school is empowering young people and deepening economic transformation in West Africa through its Lion Science Park (LSP), adding that the major mandate of the institute and other higher institutions and research resource centres was to provide the knowledge backbone for industry, commerce and society.

The park has been providing thousands of graduates with direct and unhindered access to specialised innovative infrastructure of the highest standard, exposing them to outstanding training opportunity for applied scientific innovation and entrepreneurial skills, he said.

His words: “We have developed the university farm; a few years ago we started the diary farm where we rear cattle, producing dairy milk. And then recently, UNN became the first university in Nigeria to set up what we call e-Business incubator. Now we have our own incubators and one of the productive students is going to pitch the drone he’s producing in Dubai this month, and next month in Finland.”

Courtesy of The Guardian.

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