The Federal Government on Tuesday restated its commitment toward adopting the principle of strategic planning and framework in the composite parts manufacturing that would be accepted globally and have economic benefits for the country.
The Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation, Mrs. Monilola Udoh stated this while declaring open an Aerospace Composites Stakeholders’ Workshop in Ilorin, the Kwara State capital.
The workshop which was the first of its kind in Nigeria with the theme ‘Effective Applications of Composites in Aerospace and Allied industries in Nigeria’, was organised by the National Space Research and Development Agency (NASRDA), under the auspices of Federal Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation.
Udoh, who was represented by an official of the Ministry, Mr. Patrick Oguma noted that the establishment of four different aerospace research laboratories by the FG as additional activity centres in NASRDA is a call for downstream research.
She added that the expectations are high from NASRDA through the centres and laboratories on being an actor and contributor to space development among the comity of space nations.
“It is my hope that the collaborative efforts between the University of Ilorin and ASCOLAB-NASRDA will yield results to the body of knowledge and be able to demonstrate visible products for patenting and commercialization.
“Let me also use this opportunity to charge all participants to be open-minded to discuss and develop a strategic plan and framework for composite parts manufacturing. I can assure you of the Ministry’s support for any decision taking here for further action and necessary approval that will be useful for both the government and private sector”, she said.
Udoh said further that this is better time for the country to consider research and innovation as frontier of development academically, infrastructurally, economically.
Udoh who emphasized that the main objective of the workshop is to provide all participants with a forum to discuss, share experience and come up with a national body that will provide guidelines and standards for aerospace composite parts and allied products manufacturing, said that for over a decade, composite materials have found large scale applications in civil, medical, marine, defense, satellite development, rockery and commercial aerospace industry due to its lightweight advantage, aesthetics and strength that compete with steel and it’s adaptability to any weather conditions without corroding.
In his speech, the Chairman of the occasion and the Vice Chancellor of the University of Ilorin, Prof. Sulyman Age urged participants to reflect on how they can capitalize on their different perspectives and mandates to accelerate the achievement of relevant composite development and applications in the various arms of the country.
“In the yester years, our national attention has solely been on the importation of these services and these had delivered great negative impact on our economy. Recently, the ministry of science and technology, led by Dr Ogbonnaya Onu, under the leadership of President Muhammdu Buhari, has placed more emphasis on local content development.
“To this end, this workshop is organised to ensure capacity development among stakeholders and make them ready to achieve our national goal. This workshop is hereby organised to focus on strengthening our own capacities, improving methodologies and ensuring that the goals on composite development and applications are achieved”.
The VC said further that beyond national applications, considerations should also be given to broadening the horizons focusing as well on emerging global discourse on process and product development related to functional and advanced composite.
“As the title suggests, I hope that our discussion today and tomorrow will help us to think not only on what we are doing, but also how we are doing it so that in the end we deliver the results that improve both the conditions and the position of our local infrastructure and consequently our national economic development.
“Let me conclude by saying that I hope this workshop will bring new insights to our work. As usual, I am sure that we will use the workshop to share and exchange our experiences but at the same time candidly question our methods of work and the yardsticks we use to measure success. We as a Network should put in place mechanisms to monitor and assess ourselves by applying the reporting and monitoring systems that we have discussed in the past”, he added.
Earlier in his opening remarks the Director General/Chief Executive Officer of NASRDA, Dr. Halilu Ahmed Shaba said that composite research is not new but the realization in Nigeria is at infant both with the academia and private practice.
According to him, the Agency had invited like-minds as stakeholders to champion a common front in actualizing a composite development professional for sustainable environment of the nation.
Shaba added that one of the reasons for team building is to be able to weather the storm against research and development not only in Nigeria but Africa as a whole.
“Another critical area that must be addressed by the composite professional body when established is the adequate policy capable of responding to the needs of development of Composites aerospace and allied products in Nigeria. This will make achieving the 2030 sustainable Development Goals much earlier”.
He, however, called for the need to innovate, reach out to new partners home and abroad, reengage retired few experts in composite development and build trust across the sector.
Also, the National Coordinator of Advance Space Composite laboratory (ASCOLab), Dr. Kayode Odimayomi said that research and development in composites have been domiciled in academia, but recently the private sector has picked interest in it and they have being doing well mostly in automobile and aircraft development.
According to him, with the setting up of these laboratories it is going to bring a merger of University, Polytechnic effort in private investors and the private developers together to form a national body that would be able to pursue the process, sourcing different products in composites in a frontline of taking Nigeria away from being an engineering or technology consumer to being a key stakeholder in development production of composite materials for aerospace, automobile, marine, biomedical and across general constructions.
“That’s why we are talking about professional bodies helping out in developing a national policy. When there is national policy, there is a guideline, there is a road map to which a room is created for all participants from academia, private and natural inventors who have an idea but they don’t know how to go about it.
“They can consult the University, Polytechnic, going to the private sector or come to the Federal Government through our laboratories, our agency or Ministry which is a collection of interested parties to ensure that composites are put together to develop them from experiment level down to product level”, he said.