Digital Industrial Company, General Electric (GE), has called for ‘tailored’ innovations in the country that will ensure local development.
GE said localisation is important to meet specificities of local needs, stressing that there is a need to develop home-grown solutions for Africa.
Speaking at the launch of Nigeria’s report of Global Innovation Barometer Survey, President and CEO, GE Africa, Farid Fezoua, said innovation and technology are fundamental for Africa to be able to compete in a global framework.
Fezoua added that training programs like the GE Lagos Garage, aimed at Nigerian entrepreneurs, help support local innovation in the country.
Discussing the GIB findings, Chief Communications & Public Affairs Officer, GE Africa, Patricia Obozuwa, said multinationals continue to take the lead in driving innovation, which conforms to the global narrative.
Obozuwa stated that 36 per cent of Nigerian business executives said multinationals drive innovation compared to the global figure of 23 per cent. Likewise, SMEs are also viewed as a key driver of innovation over-indexing against the global figure by 12 percentage points (Nigeria 23%, Global 11%).
Amongst other findings, the survey revealed that attitudes towards 3D printing are positive in Nigeria. Almost nine in 10 business executives believe 3D printing will have a positive impact on businesses (88%).
The results of the survey were further explored and discussed by a panel of experts which included Dr Akintoye Akindele, Partner, Synergy Capital Managers; Solape Hammond, Co-founder, Impact Hub; Thelma Ekiyor, Co-Founder & CEO, Afrigrants and Olumbe Akinkugbe, Director, Ondo State Information Technology Agency. The panel recommended several strategies to encourage SME innovation in Nigeria including close collaboration between the public and private sectors.
In his keynote, the Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, who was represented by the Secretary to State Government, Mrs. Folasade Jaji, said: “Through its activities, GE has supported economic growth in Africa within a period spanning over 120 years. It has also been a key partner in progress in Nigeria, where it has operated for over four decades. We are delighted to note that GE is providing the support that will enable us to leverage the emerging potentials of the 24/7 economy of Lagos megacity and a location of the first choice for investors.”
Sanwo-Olu commended GE on the success of the GE Lagos Garage initiative which, he noted, has empowered young people through training and capacity building in areas of business development and advanced manufacturing-based technology enterprise, among other skills.
“As our partner in progress, Lagos state government will continue to collaborate with you, especially in the critical areas of power and healthcare, as well as skills development” he added.
GE is leading efforts to drive the adoption of 3D printing in Nigeria through its Lagos Garage, a hub for advanced manufacturing-based innovation, strategy development, idea generation, and collaboration. The Garage offers a year-round series of skills training programs focused on building the next generation of Nigerian entrepreneurs. To date, over 400 entrepreneurs have graduated the program having been trained to use the latest in advanced manufacturing technologies; 3D printers, CNC mills, and laser cutters as well as in business development.
Some other top findings from the report include that since the GE GIB 2016, Nigeria has seen a one percentage point increase in the innovation championship in 2018, compared to 0 per cent previously. This places Nigeria in the 21st position, in-between Malaysia and Brazil.
92 per cent of business executives who are anti-protectionist, state that protectionism will also create barriers to investment, which will affect businesses and over indexes against a global average of 69 percent.
GIB found out that in Nigeria, business executives favoring protectionism do it for business reasons, while almost three in four business executives think that the government is not driving innovation and is unable to keep up with the pace of innovation (74 percent).