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Nanotechnology Education and Research
Nigeria is located between Cameroon, Niger and Benin in Western Africa, with a coastline on the Atlantic Ocean. The total area of the country is 923,768 km2 with a population of 170,123,740 as of July 2012, making it the most populous country in Africa.
Nigeria has a mixed economy market with the telecommunications market being one of the fastest growing in the world. The US is the largest foreign investor in the country. The GDP of the nation in 2012 was reported at $272.6 billion.
In a survey of the most technologically developed nations in Africa, Nigeria comes in second to South Africa.
Nigeria has a couple of organisations and networks dedicated to promoting nanoscience and exploring the challenges and future of nanotechnology. A brief introduction to these organisations is provided below:
National Agency for Science and Engineering Infrastructure (NASENI) – NASENI promotes several technology fields including the field of nanotechnology. Nanotechnology is a technology of the future for Nigeria and NASENI has been entrusted with developing nanotechnology so that Nigeria can exploit its potential. Some of the specific programmes that NASENI offer include:
NASENI's Nanoparticle Production Workshop and Training
NASENI's Nanotechnology Visiting Researchers Scheme
NASENI's Nanotechnology Research Grant
Nanomedicine Society of Nigeria - The key aims of the Society are to develop a nanomedicine based drug delivery platform that will revolutionise treatment of PRDs such as TB, HIV, Malaria, Leishmaniasis, HAT, etc.; to develop nanomaterials from tropical biopolymers and other materials suitable for nanodrug delivery systems for use in the tropics; to regularly organise public lectures, workshops, summer schools, etc. geared towards advancing the overall knowledge about nanomedicines and their applications in Nigeria; and to serve as a platform for soliciting for funds.
The major nanotechnology company in Nigeria are listed below along with a brief introduction to each of them:
Nanolux Global Ltd. - Founded in 2011, Nanolux Global Ltd. is a Nigerian industrial and specialty chemical company with an eye on the future. They manufacture and distribute some of the most versatile nanotechnology products in the world. Most of their product lines are locally manufactured in Nigeria and they cover many industrial and home applications including agriculture (fertilizers and animal feeds), building and road construction chemicals, anti-corrosive coatings, marine paints, oil spill cleanup absorbents and dispersants, oil degreaser, drilling chemicals, industrial adhesives, energy saving solutions, general raw materials development etc. They manufacture only the best and most highly noted nanotechnology products from the most advanced laboratories in Canada, US and Europe.
Nanotechnology Education and Research
Nigeria has a couple of institutions that offer research and educational opportunities in nanotechnology. Given below is a list of universities and academic institutions in Nigeria and their nanotechnology involvement.
Centre of Excellence for Advanced Materials And Manufacturing Technology – offers a Masters of Science Degree (M.Sc.) in Nanotechnology and Structured Materials in collaboration with the Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU). The course has four areas of specialisation namely: Nanomedicine; Nano-energy; Nano-genomics and; Nanostructured Materials. The center was established by NASENI.
Engineering Materials Development Institute (EMDI) - EMDI is one of the six Science and Engineering Development Complexes set up as centers under NASENI. Their research activities in EMDI include: Materials Testing and Characterization; Design, Modeling and Simulation; Electronic Materials and Nanotechnology; Chemistry and Electrochemistry; Structured Materials and Metallic Alloys; and Composite Materials.
Nigeria’s Federal Ministry of Environment had signed a joint agreement with the Government of Switzerland in 2011 to promote training and capacity building for the development of a nanosafety pilot project in Nigeria, with financial support provided by the Government of Switzerland.
Under the nanosafety pilot project, a workshop titled “Awareness Raising and Priorities” took place on 7 August 2012. The aim of the workshop was to raise awareness, identify nanosafety priorities, and create a roadmap for a nanosafety policy in Nigeria. The workshop was attended by government officials from both the countries, and participants from academia, consumer protection organizations, and the civil society.
At the workshop, the Nigerian Minister of the Environment stated that the country needs to capitalise on all the opportunities nanotechnology can bring so as to find long-term solutions for the country’s environmental challenges. In December 2012, researchers and experts in the field of nanomedicine gathered together at the African University of Science and Technology (AUST) to pool their ideas and discover ways to use nanotechnology to meet the emerging medical needs of the African continent. Researchers have already found solutions to the issue of toxicity and efficacy by creating nanodrugs that can be directly administered to the tissue or organs that are diseased instead of the drug traveling throughout the body. Similarly, instead of taking pills for prolonged periods on a daily basis, a single nanodrug can be taken once a week. The need of the hour was to find common solutions to some of the existing diseases at low cost rates. The event was sponsored and supported by Nanomedicine in Nigeria (NSN).
Nigeria is drawing up a road map and business plan to assist the take off of Nigeria's Nanotechnology and Advanced Materials Programme. Key focus areas include nanomedicine, nanoelectronics and nanostructured and nanoporous materials. In addition, a National Centre for Nanotechnology and Advanced Materials is being established to be located under NASENI.
With oil dominating the economy, Nigeria's economy has expanded rapidly with a surge in oil prices. This has lead to an average annual growth rate in the economy of 7% over the last five years. This has not translated across into R&D, where only 0.2% of GDP was spent on R&D in 2011. This resulted in a ranking of 127 out of 139 in a 2011 global competitiveness report. Furthermore, Nigeria does not have any of its universities ranked in the world's top 500.
With low overall levels of education and spending on R&D, as well as low investment in science, technology and innovation, it is unlikely that Nigeria will become a serious player in the development of nanotechnology. The lack of leading universities will also make it difficult to keep or attract quality researchers to carry out quality research.
Where is Zimbabwe’s technology? Why?
National Agency for Science & Engineering Infrastructure (NASENI)
Heritage Foundation - Nigeria
Transforming Nigeria through Science, Technology and Innovation