Manufacturing firms in the country are advised to utilize the research break through by the Raw Materials Research and Development Council, RMRDC, to enhance their productivity.
The Minister of Science and Technology, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu gave the advice during a facility tour to the Raw Materials Research and Development Council office at the Federal Secretariat Enugu.
Dr. Onu who noted that the primary concern of his ministry was how to ensure food security pointed out that industrialists and young investors had a lot to benefit from the research activities of RMRDC.
“We are the repository of the non-oil assets of the nation; whether solid minerals or agricultural products. And we want investors to be aware that the Council has the data that they need for their investment. Because we must diversify our economy, we must go beyond crude oil and natural gas. The Council has the technology, whether derived, developed within the Council or any other agencies within the ministry that can help any investor to add value to the non oil and non gas assets in the country because we believe that it is when you process these materials that you can help the nation in employing people and creating wealth so that our GDP will increase and move people out of poverty into middle class, which is what the people want.”
The Minister told journalists that all research agencies under his ministry, including the Project Development Institute (PRODA), Enugu, would be repositioned for efficiency.
“I had visited PRODA to draw attention, just as I visited this centre. So we are sending a message. PRODA is very important to the nation, it is also important to the Ministry. We will do everything that is humanly possible to encourage PRODA to play its rightful role in making sure that we develop technologies that can help people, particularly within the environment where PRODA is located and the nation as a whole. Because you see when you improve on existing technologies, what you are doing really is that you are helping people to improve on their productivity and when they do that, in the process, they earn more revenue and that is how you can more people away from poverty. And that is why we say that jobs created on the basis of research and innovations are jobs that are for life because the people concerned will acquire skills that can be used all through life.”
Answering questions from reporters, Dr. Onu promised to collaborate with the Ministry of Power in utilizing coal as alternative source of energy.
“Power generation has always been mono. That is we have relied so much on natural gas to power our facilities. And any time there is disruption in the supply of gas to our power facilities we will have a tremendous shortage, which should be that way. If we diversify, if we broaden the base, so that you look at coal, you also look at gas, you look at hydro, you look at renewable sources, sola and all that, then you have a basket of suppliers so that if there is problem in one, you make up with others. So the Ministry of Science and Technology through the Energy Commission is working on this and the Power Ministry has adopted it… so this administration will definitely utilize all resources that are needed because power is key to industrialization.”
Earlier, while conducting the Minister round some samples in her office, Enugu State Coordinator of RMRDC, Mrs. Chibuzor Abiaeye said though Enugu State was endowed with many natural resources only Kaolin was geologically recorded for the State.
Mrs. Abiaeye mentioned that areas where Kaolin was abundant in Enugu State were Uzouwani, Nsukka South, Enugu, Udi and Oji River.
She explained that the natural resource could be used in the production of electric insulators and other ceramics, as well as pharmaceutical products.
“All there need now is to send core drilling of samples of those locations and go to the laboratory and find out the constituents of those samples so that an investor can at a glance know that this sample am getting from here is made up of this constituent. Kaolin has vast industrial applications in agriculture, paint, paper manufacture, pharmaceuticals, and ceramics. And each of these sectors require specific constituent… and it will be a good income generation for the state.”
On agro products, the RMRDC Enugu State Coordinator said that the agency had identified palm tree as a veritable resource as red oil, palm kernel oil and kernel shells from the tree were of great economic importance.
She announced that her office had developed vehicle break pad from palm kernel shells while Glycerin was got as a by-product of Palm Kernel (PK) oil.
“In fact, that Glycerin is interesting because soap manufacturers after doing the soap processing, throw away that water not knowing that the residual thing, that is the Glycerin, has something very important. In Glycerin, we use it for our shampoo, special skin soap and all what have you.”
Mean while, the Director General of Raw Material Research and Development Council, Dr. Hussaini Ibrahim told the Minister that they were working a Kaolin project in Anambra State while a fertilizer plant developed in Enugu through its investment promotion had been divested.
“We actually established a fertilizer plant in Enugu, a company now operates it. What we do is we promote and encourage private sector to take park and once they stand and are established, they now take ownership and then we just pay for the equipment as we can and then see other products that we can invest in.”
Our correspondent Chukwubuike Madu reports that the Minister later went to the Enugu International Trade Fair where he inspected the display by the RMRDC and interacted with the leadership of the Enugu Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Mine and Agriculture (ECCIMA).