TETFund spends over N23bn on research

The Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund) stated on Monday that it has already spent more than N23 billion on research across the country.

Dr Hadiza Ismail, Assistant Director of Research and Development (R&D) of TETFund, revealed this at a validation workshop in Abuja titled “Strengthening Research and Innovation Funding Agencies in West Africa”.

Hadiza, who represented the Director of TETFund’s R&D at the ceremony, stated that the agency is totally dedicated to the development of a Science Granting Council in Nigeria.

She stated that TETFund has continued to provide financial support for research through the National Research Fund, and that the Fund is also working hard to ensure that research outputs are linked to industry in order to achieve the desired development.

“So far, the Fund has spent over N23 billion on about 912 research projects that have been sponsored.

“But that also gives us an insight into the need for this workshop and what we are actually talking about. Despite the fact that we have given grants to over 900 projects, we want to see how we can link these research projects to industry and get viable outcomes at the end of the day to help Nigeria move forward,” she said.

The Executive Director, African Technology Policy Studies (ATPS) Network, Professor Nicholas Ozor, on his part, said the workshop was aimed at giving momentum to a project designed to strengthen national research councils in six West African countries.

He, however, expressed concerns about the non-existence of a national research and innovation funding agency in Nigeria, saying the absence has denied the country’s ability to attract foreign grants for research.

He said: “Nigeria specifically has an issue currently because they do not yet have a well-recognized national research and innovation funding agency, and that is part of why we are here to work with appropriate agencies and stakeholders within the science and innovation ecosystem to see how we can establish a functional science and innovation funding agency in Nigeria, because other countries in Africa, especially Sub-Saharan Africa, already have these councils functional, and because of that, they are able to receive funding from agencies across the world to support research and development.

“Currently, TETFund is standing in as the representative council for Nigeria, but we are saying we should best situate the national research and innovation funding agency in an appropriate establishment that focuses on innovation, like the Ministry of Science and Innovation.”

Also speaking, the President of African University of Science and Technology (AUST), Abuja, Professor Peter Onwualu, who harped on the importance of innovation in bringing about development, said the workshop was expected to usher in a functional science granting council in Nigeria.

“We know that in this country, we need the results of science and technology, which usually translate into innovation.

“Innovation that can produce goods and services to make sure our economy runs well, but we have to have a good institutional framework for doing research in Nigeria, and that is all this project is all about.

“We believe the outcome of this workshop will make Nigeria have a functional science granting council that can finance and fund research in all sectors of the economy; universities, polytechnics, research institutes, private sector organizations, SMEs, and even the informal sector.

“These people you see on the streets inventing one thing or another, we need to garner support to be able to support them to move from research to goods and services.“