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NCDMB Hosts Oil Industry Players, Academia, on Research and Innovation Imperatives

Oil and gas industry stakeholders and leading academics on Tuesday began a three-day Research and Development (R&D) Zonal Workshop at the Niger Delta University (NDU), Amassoma, with special focus on needs-driven research and deepening of collaboration and linkages, sponsored by the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB).

The workshop, according to a statement by the Corporate Communications unit of NCDMB, provides a forum for discussions and demonstration of research breakthroughs on software and hardware as they relate to oil and gas industry needs, bioremediation and related oil field chemicals solutions, such as additives and drilling fluids, and renewable solutions to meet industry needs.

Scheduled to be hosted in the six geopolitical zones of the country by NCDMB Centres of Excellence in six universities, the workshop is also intended to enhance capacity building of research directors and lecturers, particularly in writing and reading compelling research proposals.

In a keynote address at the Workshop, the Executive Secretary of the NCDMB, Engr. Felix Omatsola Ogbe, said the Board is empowered by Sections 36-39 and 70 (m) of the Nigerian Oil and Gas Industry Content Development (NOGICD) Act, 2010, to “coordinate and superintend over research and development towards the further attainment of the goal of developing Nigerian content in the Nigerian oil and gas industry.”

According to him, “critical gaps hampering the research climate in our sector,” notably, “lack of research infrastructure, funding and weak commercial frameworks,” had been identified in the Board’s 10-Year Strategic Road Map, which had been developed in 2017. Appropriate measures to close such gaps were also identified.

He noted that “the establishment of Research Centres of Excellence in the six geopolitical zones of the country and establishment of the R&D Fund to stimulate research in the oil and gas sector” were some of the measures recommended to remedy the identified gaps. The Nigerian Content Research and Development Fund,” he explained, was launched by the Board in 2021 “with an initial seed capital of $50 million.”  

Highlighting a major success in research-related endeavours of the NCDMB, Engr. Ogbe said the actualization of the commissioning of the Amal Technology Printed Circuit Board Manufacturing Facility in Abuja was a result of research commercialisation, “amplified in the NCDMB Technology Innovation and Incubation policy which created the Technology Innovation and Incubation Centre inside the Nigerian Content Towers at Yenagoa, Bayelsa State.   

The Executive Secretary was represented by the Director of Planning, Research and Statistics, NCDMB, Mr Isaac Yalah, and he pointed out that the Board created six research centres of excellence hosted by tertiary institutions in different geopolitical zones, the statement added.

These are Niger Delta University, which hosts a Centre of Excellence for Engineering Studies; Federal University of Technology (FUT), Akure; FUT, Owerri, and FUT, Minna, with Centres of Excellence in Geology and Geophysical Studies, Local Raw Materials Substitution, and Technology Development, Studies, respectively. Modibbo Adama University of Technology, Yola, hosts Safety and Environment Studies, while Usman Dan Fodio University, Sokoto, hosts Renewable Energy.

In setting the context of the event, NCDMB’s Director of Planning, Research and Statistics, Mr Isaac Yalah, described the Workshop as “a journey towards fostering collaboration and linkage between industry, academia and government,” which he noted are critical to the nation’s quest for economic development.

He said it is important to address the challenge, “How do we bring industry experts to enhance learning in universities?” noting that training and manpower development would be greatly boosted through such an approach. He recalled his own experience in South Korea in the past, where he observed that students in tertiary institutions were focused on solving industry problems.

According to him, with such an orientation, “Together, we [industry, academia and government] can unlock new frontiers of development.”

In Welcome Remarks, the Vice Chancellor, NDU, Professor Allen Aziba-Odumosu Agih, represented by the Deputy Vice Chancellor (Administration), Professor Jonah Akekere, expressed the joy of the institution’s Management in playing host to participants, while commending the NCDMB for its initiatives in human capital development.

He said the University greatly appreciates the Centre of Excellence status it enjoys as well as the partnership that has been fostered by the Board over the years. He cited computers donated to the university by the NCDMB to aid Information and Communication Technology (ICT) and digital penetration in the university community and its environs.

In a charge to all stakeholders, Professor Akekere declared: “Let the output of resource persons [at the Workshop] be sold to industry.”

Earlier in a programme overview, the Managing Director, Wider Perspectives Ltd., facilitators of the event, Mrs. Edughom Hanson, said interactions between oil and gas industry players, academics and policy-makers are vital for the successes the country seeks in national development.

She noted that, among other objectives, the Workshop seeks to build the capacity of research directors and lecturers in writing and reading compelling research proposals. “There are a lot of opportunities, a lot of grants that can be accessed out there for research purposes,” she stated, adding, “But the way you write the proposals matter.”

Presentations at the Technical Sessions include “Innovation on Software Development: Success Factors, Constraints and Look Ahead”; “Innovation on Hardware Development: Success Factors, Constraints, and Look Ahead”; “Innovations on Oil Field Chemical Development: Success Factors, Constraints, and Look Ahead,” and “Available Funding on Research and Development: Impact and Accessibility.”

Resource persons are Mr ThankGod Egbe, Managing Director, CypherCrescent, Dr Keluo Chukwuogu, Founder/CEO, Boskel Nigeria Ltd.; Jonathan Amarachi Njoku, Manager, Planning, Research and Statistics, NCDMB; Professor Joel Ogbonna, Commissioner for Petroleum Resources, Abia State; Mr Pacqueens Irabor, Manager South, Bank of Industry; Professor Yelebe Zekieni Robert, Director, NCDMB Centre of Excellence, NDU; Silas Omomehin Ajimijaye, General Manager, Research, Statistics & Development, NCDMB, and Professor (Mrs) Iheoma M. Adekunle, Director, Consultancy and Institutional Advancement, Federal University, Otuoke.