The many ‘inventions’ by Nigerians that failed to fly

Posted by News Express | 25 July 2021 | 877 times

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•Tochukwu Clinton and his invention




There have been prototypes and completely produced electronics, electric generating plants and vehicles made by talented Nigerians, but many of them have failed to hit the market. Why? Daily Trust on Sunday probes.

In January, a car made by Auwal Hassan was showcased in Abuja by the Minister of Science and Technology Dr Ogbonnaya Onu.

Hassan, a 30-year-old Jama’ere, Bauchi State born investor, had pieced together locally sourced metal scraps to make a tiny car which barely accommodate a driver and a passenger. Painted in green white green Nigeria’s flag colour, the car can move several kilometres with just few litres of fuel, according to Hassan.

“The vehicle has a speed capacity of 50 km/hr, five gear transmission and 6 horse power engine speed,” he had told Daily Trust in an interview after showcasing the car at the Eagle Square, Abuja.

Hassan, who had solicited for the cooperation of the government to improve on the development of the automobile and other engineering feats such as the production of helicopters and the likes, said he could make Nigeria one of the automobile producing nations if he got adequate financial and technical supports from the government.

Onu had said FG would support Hassan to transform the car to the next level in order to mass produce and commercialise it. The minister reiterated the commitment of the ministry in partnering and supporting young innovators, adding that the benefits to be derived from locally produced goods cannot be overemphasized.  “These include job creation for the young people, attracting investors’ wealth and opportunities which will help improve government revenue,” he had said.

He had said the greatest asset available to Nigeria is the resiliency of its youths and their ingenuity towards innovation and invention. The minister also said, at the unveiling of the car, that natural resources such as crude oil are not the nation’s greatest asset but investment in the young people and their brains.

The Director General of the National Agency for Science and Engineering Infrastructure (NASENI), Prof. Mohammed Sani Haruna, also said the locally produced car was assessed by his agency, adding that the agency will work closely with the innovator in improving the standard and quality of the car.

He also stated that further analysis will be made on the vehicle to improve its performance.

But sadly, six months after, Hassan’s car has gotten neither the federal government’s support nor any investor’s promise of commercialisation.

Hassan is not alone on this. Kehinde Durojaiye, a Lagos-based 49-year-old father of four, made a ragged but compact jet car. The self-taught inventor said his invention is the answer to the city’s traffic woes. He said the jet car, nicknamed ‘Kenny Jet’ can run on land, sea and in the air. Durojaiye calls his ambitious invention ‘an aero-amphibious jet car’ and he says with little support from investors and government, jet car put Nigeria on the jet manufacturing map.

“I tested it in the sea and a lot of people were surprised it can move on both land and water,” he said. “That’s one of those things that amazes people,” he added.

He said he had travelled as far as Ibadan (84 miles away from Lagos) in his car and claimed it could move 120 kilometres per hour on land and at least six knots on the sea. In a sea of Toyotas and Hyundais, Durojaiye’s unconventional looking car certainly turns heads.

A keen inventor since childhood, the father of four produces at his workshop, which sits on a dump site at Lagos Island, close to the Lagos lagoon. He has made four prototype cars, from every day, discarded materials like wood, plastic and Styrofoam. He said he spent hours refining prototypes of the car, hoping that one day he would make it fly.

He said: “We want the whole world to know it is possible to have a kind of machine that can move on land, on sea and fly and perhaps move under the sea,” he explained. “That’s my ultimate goal.”

But ‘Kenny jet’ has yet to hit the market, four years after Durojaiye completed it.

Unlike Hassan and Durojaiye, Tochukwu Chukwueke is a bit lucky. While in a classroom at the Electronics Engineering Department of the University of Nigeria Nsukka (UNN) Enugu State, Chukwueke asked a question which later fired the invention spirit in him. A lecturer teaching the theories and principles of engineering had mentioned an equation and its constituent constant. As a curious student, Chukwueke wanted to know the value of that constant and how it applied in real life, but the lecturer wasn’t ready for the answer. “In Nigeria you won’t need that knowledge, you don’t use it. So, we just show you the formula and you’re good to go,” the lecturer had retorted.

But Chukwueke, an engineer,  inventor and founder of Clintonel Innovation Centre (CIC) and Clintonel Technologies, based in Aba, Abia State, had pressed on and decided he would produce things needed in the society.

“During my undergraduate years, I worked very hard to develop a water powered engine and discovered a new process which I proceeded to patent,” he says.

After graduation in 2011, he went into production of one of his patents – the Clintonel Reading Stand. As the name implies, the stand holds books up and prevents readers from straining their neck. It is equipped with battery powered lights and a page belt.

He faced some challenges that howbeit shocking, are not new to innovators, scientists and engineers in Nigeria.

With N300,000 saved up from NYSC allowances, and with investment from a friend, he paid to a ‘highly recommended’ manufacturer in Aba for the reading stand’s production cast and mold.

“He promised to deliver in exactly 3 months, but one year, more money and a lawyer’s intervention later, I got an unworkable caricature of what was originally paid for,” he said.

When shown the Reading Stand’s designs, a Director at the Metallurgical Research and Material Institute in Onitsha, Anambra State, was shocked and asked Clinton if he didn’t know he was in Nigeria. “First from my lecturer, now this man. Being Nigerian shouldn’t inhibit us from thinking, designing and creating, but that is the sad reality we are working uphill against,” the CEO of Clintonel Technologies said.

All these frustrations led to the creation of Clintonel Technologies and the Clintonel Innovation Centre, he said.  Clintonel Technology is a company that develops, manufactures and commercialises local innovations while the Clintonel Innovation Centre (CIC) is its social enterprise and youth development arm, he added. “Apart from training future engineers and inventors, students come here for excursions. For most of them, CIC will be their first real-life exposure to tech tools, machines and innovations like the 3D printer and all its appurtenances,” he said.

He said if you create technology and innovation specifically targeted at Nigerians, “they won’t have any option but to buy.”

Not too far from Chukwueke in Aba is Emeka Nelson, another young Nigerian inventor in Awka, Anambra State. Nelson dreamt and made it a reality. He created a generator that runs purely on water. Nelson’s invention has the potential to put power-generating companies out of business if the Nigerian government gives him adequate support. But his generating set has also yet to hit the market. For now, he can only use it to power his two-bedroom apartment in Awka.

Even as it seems like the invention of electricity, telephone or the computer are blockbuster inventions, some Nigerians are actually giving them a try but lack of support from government and rich investors, lack of infrastructure, and lack of will to carry on, among many other factors, have been stalling their efforts. This is why more mind-blowing inventions that could have changed Nigeria are wasting away as their investors suffer from lack of investors and government’s support.

While a good number of Nigerian inventors in the Diaspora are recording breakthroughs in several inventions and enjoying adequate support from their host government and financial support from would-be investors, locally based inventors are suffering from bad government policies and unavailability of the needed facilities to invent things.

Speaking with Daily Trust on Sunday on why there is high failure rate of Nigerian inventions making it to the market, an Abuja-based economic expert, Samson Simon Galadima, said one of the reasons could be because most technical education departments in the universities, colleges and polytechnics do not have laboratories or workshop space, let alone usable equipment and facilities where technical skills are distilled to students. “Where they exist, they are grossly inadequate as the laboratories only have the items or equipment that were provided when the departments were established long ago,” Galadima said.

But he said despite all these challenges, there are still talented and diligent Nigerians, who have invented a lot of devices that need public and government assistance or intervention, but aren’t getting any of it.

“Unfortunately, most of these inventors have either remained unsung heroes or have been neglected by the government and rich investors,”he said.

However, Onu said weak intellectual property culture among Nigerian scientists and researchers, low quality of research and development results and inventions emanating from universities and research institutes, coupled with inefficient management of intellectual property assets are the bane of low commercialisation of research results in Nigeria.

The minister said many of the Research & Development results and inventions are lying idle in the research institutions across the country, because the process is very complex and requires the skills and expertise of different professionals as well as capital to achieve meaningful developmental commercialisation.

According to the minister “it was in a bid to address these challenges that the National office for Technology Acquisition and Promotion (NOTAP) decided to make a compilation of this publication titled Guidelines on commercialisation of Research and Development Results and Inventions in Nigeria.

The publication is made up of seven (7) chapters, namely: Establishment, Functions and Structure of NOTAP; Policy Guidelines on Commercialisation of Research and Development Results and Inventions in Nigeria; Critical Infrastructures for (R&D) Commercialisation; Commercialization of research and development results policy mandate of NOTAP; strategies for the commercialization of R&D results and inventions; process, phrase and stage of commercialization of R&D results and inventions.

He lauded NOTAP for the publication in view of its significance and relevance towards the realisation of the ministry’s desire and objective of facilitating the commercialisation of the numerous R&D results and inventions lying idle on the shelves of most Nigerian universities and research institutions across the country.

NOTAP, a key parastatal under the Science and Technology ministry, is primarily responsible for regulating inflow of foreign technology into Nigeria. Another key responsibility of NOTAP is to document and commercialise research and design results of key universities and other institutes in Nigeria.

It was in pursuit of this mandate that NOTAP decided to produce this publication to serve as a guide and reference material for Nigerian scientists, researchers, inventors, innovation, investors and stakeholders in the value chain of commercialisation of inventions, Dan Azumi Ibrahim, NOTAP’s Director General, said. (Adapted from Daily Trust)


Source: News Express

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