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Nanotechnology has much to offer Nigeria but research needs support

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Nanotechnology is without doubt one of the engines of the fourth industrial revolution. The worldwide market of nanotechnology-enabled merchandise stood at roughly US$1.6 trillion in 2014. In a single estimate, the business may generate 6 million jobs and account for 10% of world GDP by 2030.

Nanotechnology creates, makes use of and research supplies at nanoscale – one nanometre is a billionth of a metre. A few of these supplies happen in nature. DNA, proteins and viruses are examples. Others will be created by slicing bigger molecules into smaller ones or by increase atoms into nanoparticles.

Nanomaterials have particular bodily, optical, organic, chemical, electrical and mechanical attributes. For example, graphene is a really mild nanomaterial however is a number of hundred occasions stronger than metal.

The sector of nanotechnology has blossomed to embody physics, chemistry, engineering, supplies and organic sciences. It has purposes in agriculture, business, medication, the atmosphere and shopper merchandise.

The large gamers in nanotechnology investments are the US, Japan, the EU and South Korea. Together with China, they accounted for 72.12% of the nanotech patents within the US patent and trademark workplace in 2016. Brazil, Russia and India are additionally very lively.

Egypt, South Africa, Tunisia, Nigeria and Algeria lead the sector in Africa. Since 2006, South Africa has been creating scientists, offering infrastructure, establishing centres of excellence, creating nationwide coverage and setting regulatory requirements for nanotechnology. Corporations akin to Mintek, Nano South Africa, SabiNano and Denel Dynamics are making use of the science.

In distinction, Nigeria’s nanotechnology journey, which began with a nationwide initiative in 2006, has been gradual. It has been dogged by uncertainties, poor funding and lack of correct coordination. Nonetheless, scientists in Nigeria have continued to position the nation on the map via publications.

As well as, analysis clusters on the College of Nigeria, Nsukka, Ladoke Akintola College of Expertise and others have organised conferences. Our analysis group additionally based an open entry journal, Nano Plus: Science and Expertise of Nanomaterials.

Nanotechnology in Nigeria

To get an thought of how properly Nigeria was performing in nanotechnology analysis and improvement, we turned to SCOPUS, an educational database.

Our evaluation exhibits that analysis in nanotechnology takes place in 71 Nigerian establishments in collaboration with 58 international locations. South Africa, Malaysia, India, the US and China are the primary collaborators. Nigeria ranked fourth in analysis articles printed from 2010 to 2020 after Egypt, South Africa and Tunisia.

5 establishments contributed 43.88% of the nation’s articles on this interval. They have been the College of Nigeria, Nsukka; Covenant College, Ota; Ladoke Akintola College of Expertise, Ogbomoso; College of Ilorin; and College of Lagos.

The variety of articles printed by Nigerian researchers in the identical decade was 645. Annual output grew from 5 articles in 2010 to 137 within the first half of 2020. South Africa printed 2,597 and Egypt 5,441 from 2010 to 2020. The worldwide complete was 414,526 articles.

The figures present regular progress in Nigeria’s publications. However the efficiency is low in view of the truth that the nation has essentially the most universities in Africa.

The analysis efficiency can also be low in relation to inhabitants and economic system dimension. Nigeria produced 1.58 articles per 2 million folks and 1.09 articles per US$3 billion of GDP in 2019. South Africa recorded 14.58 articles per 2 million folks and three.65 per US$3 billion. Egypt printed 18.51 per 2 million folks and 9.20 per US$3 billion in the identical interval.

There is no such thing as a nanotechnology patent of Nigerian origin within the US patents workplace. Requirements don’t exist for nano-based merchandise. South Africa had 23 patents in 5 years, from 2016 to 2020.

Nigerian nanotechnology analysis is restricted by an absence of subtle devices for evaluation. It’s unimaginable to conduct significant analysis regionally with out international collaboration on instrumentation. The absence of nationwide coverage on nanotechnology and of devoted funds additionally hinder analysis.

Advantages of nanotechnology

The dimensions of Nigeria’s economic system factors to nice potential for analysis and the event of patents and merchandise.

Nanotechnology would profit Nigeria in a number of methods. In agriculture, nanomaterials will be exploited as gradual launch fertilisers and eco-friendly brokers towards pests and ailments. There are purposes in renewable and clear vitality era, via biofuels and photo voltaic panels.

Learn extra:
How new vitality applied sciences will help South Africa ease its vitality crunch

In safety, nanomaterials in devices and automobiles can improve safety and capabilities of personnel. For instance, there may be potential for good uniforms with ultraviolet safety, antimicrobial properties, camouflaging, and resistance to water and fireplace.

Nanomaterials could make consuming water protected via disinfection and elimination of chemical pollution. In healthcare, antimicrobial nanofabrics will help stop hospital-acquired infections.

Learn extra:
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Via quite a few purposes, Nigeria can use nanotechnology to ship on improvement targets. Ending poverty and selling sustainable industrialisation are simply two.

Shifting ahead in nanotechnology

In February 2018, Nigeria’s science and know-how minister unveiled a nationwide steering committee on nanotechnology coverage. However the coverage is but to be authorised by the federal authorities. In September 2021, I offered a memorandum to the nationwide council on science, know-how and innovation to stimulate nationwide discourse on nanotechnology.

Authorities ought to implement the outcomes of those efforts directly. It will probably:

  • approve a nationwide coverage,

  • arrange an company to coordinate implementation,

  • make funds accessible for infrastructure, and

  • set up a centre of excellence.

The nation’s buying and selling and diplomatic companions could also be of support. The personal sector additionally has a component to play. It will probably present funds for analysis, supply scholarships and donate devices. Adopting nanotechnology in business actions may also promote its improvement in Nigeria.

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