#FirstNigeriaLicsConference: Africa Must Grow Autonomous Manufacturing Capacities – Prof. Oyelaran-Oyeyinka

A Development Economist, Professor Oyebanji Oyelaran-Oyeyinka has blamed the slow pace of industrialization in Africa on the lack of diversification and overreliance of African Governments on exportation of raw materials for revenue generation.

Speaking at the debut NigeriaLics Conference hosted by the University of Lagos, Prof. Oyelaran-Oyeyinka who was the Keynote speaker at the opening session stressed the need for governments in African countries to invest in growing Production and Manufacturing capacities.

The maiden NigeriaLics Conference which held on Thursday, February 8, 2023, with the theme; Building Innovation Capabilities for Economic Transformation in a Post-Pandemic World saw the Keynote speaker faulting successive leaderships of African countries for failing to grow the production and manufacturing potentials of individual countries, a situation which he said, has continued to sabotage developmental strides across the continent.

Prof. Oyelaran-Oyeyinka who is the Senior Special Adviser on Industrialization to the President of the African Development Bank (AfDB) noted that the COVID-19 pandemic exposed Africa as a continent with the least diversified economies. He particularly decried the emphasis and investments in research laboratories at the expense of innovative and manufacturing capabilities as obtainable in developed countries.

While challenging ivory towers in Africa on the need for solution-driven researches to address pressing challenges on the continent, the renowned innovation and development scholar who delivered his talk virtually, advocated Reverse Engineering with a view to growing competitive capacities and developing Industrial policies to promote indigenous manufacturing.

While recommending an exploration of the 65 percent uncultivated arable land mass in Africa (which is the largest in the world), the Keynote Speaker also stressed the need for Nigeria and other African countries to shift from exporting raw materials into producing high value products, prioritize investments in higher products’ specialization and complexities as well as develop structures to promote Agro-business on the continent.

In her remarks to declare the maiden NigeriaLics Conference open, the Vice-Chancellor, University of Lagos, Professor Folasade Ogunsola, FAS, identified innovation as the driving force for development in the 21st century.

Represented by the Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Development Service, Professor Ayodele Atsenuwa, the Vice-Chancellor reiterated the readiness of UNILAG to offer a model of how to grow ideas and innovations into tangible developmental policies through coordination, harnessing and concise delivery as against the old system where research outputs are left at the paper state.

The conference also featured remarks by the Vice-Chancellor, University of Ilorin, Professor Wahab Egbewole who was represented by Dr Kemi Omotoso, Secretary-General, AfricaLics, Kenya, Dr. Ann Kingiri who spoke virtually, the Secretary-General of NigeriaLics, Professor Opeyemi Ayinde, Head, Department of Economics, University of Lagos, Professor Wakeel Isola and the Chairman, Local Organizing Committee of the NigeriaLics Conference, Dr Ayodele Shittu.

They all adjudged the debut NigeriaLics Conference hosted by UNILAG as part of efforts to foster collaborations, train researchers and practitioners, build capacities as well as drive multi-disciplinary interactions towards addressing contemporary challenges and engendering all-round development in Nigeria and across Africa.

Other highlights of the opening session of the NigeriaLics Conference held at the Faculty of Social Science (F.S.S.) Lecture Theatre were contributions from participants which all tilted towards the imperativeness of manufacturing as the cornerpiece of agriculture, industries and services in driving development.

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