RMRDC: Deepening Nigeria’s industrial development through TIC

The industrialisation strategy of the Raw Materials Research and Development Council (RMRDC) is aimed at achieving greater global competitiveness in the production of processed and manufactured goods with the establishment of Technology and Innovation Complex; BINTA SHAMA reports.

Introduction

History was made recently when the Raw Materials Research and Development Council (RMRDC), against all odds, established the first of its kind technology and innovation facility to demonstrate the conversion and commercial viability of research and development induced outcomes into industrial inputs and outcomes. Aptly called the RMRDC Technology and Innovation Complex, it parades over 41 well researched industry-inspired, Research and Development outcomes for the processing of raw materials into industrial inputs and finished products. If anything can be deduced from this, it’s a recipe and provides fresh impetus for attaining rapid industrial growth in Nigeria.

Factors affecting industrial devt in Nigeria

According to Samantha, 2016, Alvarez et al., 2015, among others, industrialisation is critical to economic diversification and has been recognized to be hugely beneficial to economic growth and stability in terms of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) 2030 Agenda for the United Nations which advocates for eradication of poverty and achieving equitable outcomes for the majority by promoting industrialisation.

The effort by the Professor Hussaini Doko Ibrahim-led management to establish a complex to showcase scientific discoveries for processing raw materials in an industrial scale and capable of catapulting the nation into industrial Eldorado sends out a strong signal on the huge potentials that lie in the offing for the nation’s Gross Domestic Products (GDP) coefficient if properly harnessed in the nation’s industrialization quest.

This is at the background of assertions by many industry watchers that Nigeria’s quest for sustainable industrialization will be a mirage unless an articulated programme of development of industrial raw materials from existing local natural resources is implemented through the dissemination of information on raw materials availability, sourcing, development and utilization.

The RMRDC TIC complex is yet another step in this direction by the council which has the potentials to point in the right direction towards effective deployment of raw materials as veritable inputs to lift the ailing manufacturing sector of the economy. In the spheres of raw materials development, activities in this era of the 4th industrial revolution are dynamic and are tied to emerging R&D and new technologies which shape the way, manner and frequency with which information and innovations are created and disseminated.

The Councils’ technology center is therefore one of the series of efforts by the RMRDC to keep its stakeholders abreast with current developments in the sector. It becomes a haven for the value addition of the nation’s vital industrial raw materials. Nigeria as a hub for vast raw materials deposits can only move forward industrially when it can exploit its vast potentials in this regard.

In this regard, according to experts, the concept of value addition is a vital component of the overall strategy for addressing global market competition, post-harvest losses and food security. Value addition is a vital component of the overall strategy for addressing global market competition, post-harvest losses and food security. The strategy of value addition on agricultural produce provides ample opportunity for wealth creation, revenue generation, employment generation and effective post-harvest management to reduce losses. Value chains reside at the core of high-impact and sustainable initiatives focused on improving productivity, competitiveness, entrepreneurship, and Small and Medium Enterprises.

The RMRDC mandate

The Raw Material Research and Development Council (RMRCD), is a parastatal of the Federal Government under the Federal Ministry of Science and Technology (FMST) It has been at the forefront for drawing up policy guidelines to facilitate the rapid development and utilization of raw materials for the development of the industrial sector.

The establishment of the Raw Materials Research and Development Council (RMRDC) was in response to the clarion call by the private sector for government intervention on the over reliance on imports by Nigeria Manufacturing industry for the supply of its raw materials, processing equipment and spare parts. The Federal Government, through the then Federal Ministry of Industry (FMI) in collaboration with the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) and other stakeholders convened a National Workshop on Raw Materials for Nigerian industries in July 1983. The outcome of the workshop led to the formulation of a policy for the establishment of RMRDC by Decree (Now Act) No.39 of December 17, 1987 to develop local raw materials and co-ordinate research efforts especially in relation to raw materials acquisition, exploitation, conservation and development.

Objectives

Part of the reason for the establishment of the Council includes to serve the interest of the industry and the private sector by facilitating the sourcing, development and utilization of local raw materials; provide information which would enable government to formulate appropriate policies for local raw materials development and utilization taking cognizance of the implications of depletion, conservation or stockpiling; seduce the dependence and expenditure on raw materials imports, conserve foreign exchange by ensuring increased productivity, capacity utilization and sustainable industrial growth and ultimately create jobs.

Promoting Nigeria’s industrialisation agenda

It is noteworthy that the economic crisis of the 1980’s which led to the establishment of the Council have worsened due to global competition, fall in oil prices and trade liberalization.  Therefore the Council and its activities are even more relevant today than it was at inception.

The Council has over the years been guided by the core mission of promoting value addition to raw materials which has promoted the activities of Small and Medium Enterprises with a view to transforming and utilizing and converting domestic raw materials into competitive market-driven products. It also promotes the commercialization of R&D innovations to bridge the gaps and provide linkages between research, government and the private sector, SMEs and to enhance the commercialisation of R&D results.

In the area of applied research, the Council provides support to research institutions, the academia and private individuals to carry out market-driven research for the development of raw materials as well as providing platforms for innovations, and application of science and technology; including establishing the framework for the development and acquisition of appropriate technologies in order to create a strong, effective and competitive industrial sector.

RMRDC’s industrialisation agenda

Towards the development and growth of the industrial sector, the RMRDC has also been up and doing in many areas which constitute the core values of its establishing mandates. Such activities include its Raw Materials Information Programme which conducts periodic Techno-Economic surveys to determine raw materials availability and utilization, among other things in Nigeria, The establishment of Raw materials resource Centers in all its coordinating Offices nationwide and one at its corporate headquarters to showcase and create awareness on raw materials availability and value chain prospects to attract investments, among others.

The Council’s National Raw Materials Research and Development Programme also aimed at promoting research and development activities. The newly commissioned RMRDC Raw Materials Testing Center at the African University of Science and Technology (AUST), was established by the Council in fulfilment of this programme. The center conducts assessment analysis, characterization and standardization of raw materials. New collaborations, bi and multi-level partnerships have formed under this programme.

The Council has also embarked on its Technology Developkbment programme to promote Computer-Aided Process design, build capacity for design of process equipment and plants, Upgrading Indigenous technologies for processing raw materials, Reverse Engineering, and Establishment of Pilot Plants, among others. The RMRDC Technology and Innovation Complex has come on stream as a result.

Other programmes of the Council that have created a visible impact on the manufacturing economy include its Local Raw Materials Content Development Programme which yielded the National Raw Materials Roadmap, the Boosting of Agricultural Raw Materials (Tomatoes, et al), raw Materials Quality Assurance, deletion Programme, Strategy for Competitiveness in Raw Materials and Products Development in Nigeria, and Energy and Fuel Resources Development.

The Council is also making inroads in the area of investment by its Investment and Promotion Programme by promoting investment into raw materials, promoting private public partnerships for raw materials development and utilization, and consultancy and Industrial Brokerage through organizing Raw Materials Fairs and Technology expos (NIRAM Expo, among others).

The Council also promotes SME development in Nigeria through its SME clustering programmes, cluster Innovation and Support Services ward-Based Cluster Programme, Entrepreneurships Development Consultancy, and Raw Materials based Collaborations.

Additional materials provided by Public Affairs and Corporate Services Department, RMRDC.