Nigerian stakeholders, in partnership with international counterparts, have commenced the process of making the nation Africa’s Knowledge Hub by establishing an initiative on knowledge-driven home-grown solutions to address the myriad of local, regional and international development challenges.
This proposition was the fulcrum of deliberations at the inaugural edition of the Nigerian Knowledge for Development Roundtable, organised recently in Lagos by the Knowledge Hub Nigeria (KHN), in partnership with the Global Knowledge for Development Initiative, with the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry being the host.
According to the organisers, the roundtable, which marks the existence of the Knowledge for Development Initiative in Nigeria, is part of the global agenda on driving the discovery, harvesting and coordination of local intellectual resources, for greater use for mankind across the globe, with specific commitments to support the implementation of the United Nations Agenda 2030 on Sustainable Development Goals, the Paris Climate Agreement, and the Global Knowledge Development Goals.
Top of the agenda on global challenges that need a uniquely coordinated response, as the Knowledge Hub reiterated, are climate change, insecurity, poverty and illiteracy.
In an address, Prince Lekan Fadina, Managing Director, Knowledge Hub Nigeria (KHN), said that the objective of the roundtable was to start the conversation towards addressing the challenges and opportunities of Knowledge Society and to identify key actions to advance knowledge in Nigeria in a targeted, systematic, integrated and timely manner.
Fadina explained that while the effort was to bring together many perspectives, facilitate collaboration, and jointly implement activities, the initiative would as well help to better understand the needs of sustainable knowledge societies and to manage knowledge responsibly on all levels of the societies for the benefit of a peaceful, wealthy and sustainable future.
Fadina is worried that, “today, we face disruptive activities in all sectors of human endeavour – finance, banking, communication, economy, agriculture, trade, sustainable livelihood, among others,” hence the recognition of “knowledge and technology playing key roles…”
He equally emphasised the empirical standpoint that states that, by 2025, over 70 percent of the workers will be millennium and between ages 18 to 40 years, insisting it was time to act proactively to counter the growing concerns.
His concerns were consistent with the recent report by the Business and Sustainable Development Commission (BSDC), which indicates that there are market opportunities in food, agriculture, cities, technology, energy, health and well-being.
On the opportunity front, the report insists that, in spite of the seeming growth challenges, about 400 million new jobs could still be created by 2030; while acknowledging, on the challenges front, an estimation of about $12 trillion said to be needed to fund the process to Low Carbon Economy and addressing the Sustainable Development Goals.
Relying on the same report, Fadina insisted that, despite the seeming challenges, the enormous opportunities offered by the current global development dynamics, especially the Sustainable Development Goals, still makes business sense, as he believes that the Agenda for Knowledge Development will be a useful template in addressing the challenges of knowledge, digitalisation, road to low carbon economy, knowledge cities and knowledge societies.
He said: “We cannot fold our arms and be on-lookers with the Fourth Industrial Revolution upon us. It is clear from all available information that knowledge can improve efficiency, increase productivity, enhance energy supply, help create smart cities, foster faster and better data utilisation, raise industrial productivity and enhance the standard of living of our people.
“We believe that all the different forms of Knowledge are to be effectively harnessed, managed and deployed if the societal challenges are to be addressed. The forms of Knowledge and technologies that are created from them have to be leveraged through established Knowledge networks and national innovation systems.”
Andreas Brandner, Global Coordinator and Head, Austrian Knowledge for Development Agenda, revealed that the Nigerian Knowledge for Development Initiative is the first national association established to localise the Agenda Knowledge for Development and to collaborate with a partnership approach for its implementation.
However, the attempt is said to be the third in the continent, as Uganda and Kenya have respectively integrated same innovations into their national development initiatives in the last two years.
Brandner said he was particularly happy that Nigeria, being the biggest in population and economic size in the continent is finally keying into the growing global Knowledge for Development Initiatives, saying such would make it the driver of the process on the continent.
According to him, knowledge is at the heart of sustainable development, pleading that the development of any country in the world, of any organisation and of every single citizen is highly depended on knowledge-driven solutions.
“This is why the UN has committed itself to global partnerships.
“But knowledge is a tricky resource: It is hardly tangible, it is fluid and changes quickly, it moves from one place to the other, it is difficult to share, it is very context-specific, and easy to misunderstand. It fades out if you don´t use it. But knowledge can save lives, solve problems, it is the key resources to achieve our SDGs, it helps to create better lives. Knowledge can make the significant difference if used well and professionally and effectively.
“Therefore, Knowledge Management and a national Knowledge for Development approach are key to the successful development of any country and of any organisation,” he added.
Partnership is needed, because knowledge is not given to a single institution alone, Brandner canvassed, stressing that “only through collaboration in a multi-stakeholder community, the benefits of knowledge societies can be fully achieved.”
He added: “Therefore this Roundtable is a historic event on Nigeria´s path towards a knowledge society, and I congratulate Prince Lekan Fadina and his team of Knowledge Hub Nigeria for having convened it, and I acknowledge the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry for hosting and chairing this event.
“The government of Austria is strongly supporting the global Knowledge for Development Partnership and I appreciate the presence of Mr. Guido Stock, representing the Austrian Ambassador in this Roundtable. I am convinced that Austrian companies would happily cooperate with Nigeria if they knew more about the opportunities and the people.
“Knowledge is also needed on their side. So, if Knowledge Hub Nigeria succeeds not only in mobilising the Nigerian partners, but also in facilitating international knowledge partnerships, the benefit will raise significantly.
“The knowledge city partners in Austria, Germany, Switzerland, and Bulgaria are committed to strengthening this collaboration, and I am sure that Mr. Stock will share with you his vast experience in business development with Austria and Europe. Let´s work on this together,” he concludes.
By Bankole Shakirudeen Adeshina