Fund local innovators to reduce $9bn machinery imports, expert advises FG

Convener of the Hardware Convention 2021, Mr Tochukwu Chukwueke, has advised the Federal Government to fund local equipment innovators to reduce capital flight on Nigeria’s machinery imports which stood at nine billion dollars in 2020.

Chukwueke gave the advice in a statement made available to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Wednesday in Lagos.

He said the Hardware Convention 2021, organised by Clintonel Innovation Centre (CIC), a hardware Start-up Incubator, was held from Aug. 26 to Aug. 28, in Aba, Abia State, to showcase made-in-Aba equipment.

Chukwueke said the incubator provided training, mentoring and equipment for young people to create engineering innovations, build indigenous products and start up technology businesses.

According to him, negligence of the hardware sector is one of the major reasons Nigeria is suffering 33 per cent unemployment rate and 60 per cent poverty rate.

“The hardware sector is responsible for producing and maintaining the tools, machines and equipment required by the manufacturing sector, which is a major employer of labour.

“Today, Nigerian industries rely heavily on importation for virtually all the machinery they use, causing Nigeria to lose a lot of forex and the Naira to depreciate in value.

“Last year, Nigeria imported machinery worth nine billion dollars and three billion dollars for manufacturing tools.

“The hardware sector is also responsible for producing military equipment as well as several consumer goods like electronics and domestic appliances.

“Until we pay serious attention to developing the Nigerian hardware sector, Nigeria may never experience any meaningful development, job creation or poverty reduction,” he said.

According to him, concerned stakeholders are nurturing a multi-industrial hardware innovation hub to drive development of equipment and adoption of emerging technologies in Aba.

To achieve this, Chukwueke urged investors to support the local fabrication and hardware hubs, adding that a lot was happening to grow the local tech sector to reduce capital flight.

He said that a substantial portion of the innovations were the ones regarded as high‑tech products, especially those related to telecommunications equipment, semi-conductors and computer items.

Chukwueke said that there was hardware to support consumer electronics for domestic use, including a wide range of audio‑visual equipment, computer products and telecommunications equipment.

“There are local capacities for building hardware to power PCs, vehicles, electrical devices; local innovators are proving solutions to tackle the numerous challenges the industry is facing, exploring opportunities created by emerging technologies driven by conductor-enabled devices.

“Through its Made-in-Aba initiative, innovators have been ramping up efforts using financial incentives, to accelerate the development of its domestic semi-conductor industry and establish Nigeria as a tech leader.

“Aba has become a geo-focal point as the nation tries to secure the manufacturing base,” he said.

Chukwueke highlighted the opportunities to bolster the nation’s competitiveness, calling for support to hasten the development of a self-sufficient supply chain.

He said that during the convention, industry experts canvassed the need to grow the local hardware industry. (NAN)