Ibrahim Katampe, a Professor of chemistry and Director for Innovation & Technology Incubation, Center of Excellence in Emerging Technologies (CEET), Central State University, U.S.A, is the vice chair of research fund screening and monitoring committee set up by TETFUND. He speaks on the committee and other salient issues
What does the new project initiated by TETFUND entails?
Recently, the TETFund Executive Secretary, Professor Suleiman Bogoro came up with this concept about research development being the pillar of any developing country. He formed an adhoc committee to work with his internal select management team to come up with a framework for the institutionalization of R&D and innovation in Nigerian Tertiary Institutions. The committee will be the working group that will put the framework together on behalf of TETFund.
The terms of reference are basically to sensitize and recalibrate the thinking of Nigerians especially that of TETFund concerning the importance of research and product development. We are to develop a mechanism on how to institutionalize this in tertiary educational institutions. The recipients or beneficiaries of most TETFund funds are to be involved in the project, because once that is achieved it will lead to economic and industrial growth in line with the vision of the president.
Should TETFund be concerned about Research and Development?
TETFund’s mandate as established by the TETFund Act of 2001 has different sections. Yes one of its mandates includes infrastructural development, but its core mandate is to support research and educational activities. TETFund’s mandate also includes, book development, libraries, journals and publications, because before you publish, you have to do research, which is why it is important that TETFund now ensures that the type of research they fund are in line with the country’s priority needs. This will enable them solve economic problems and other challenges bedeviling the system.
What is the time frame of your committee?
It is an adhoc committee. We were drafted to put the framework together, work with the TETFund management to institutionalize the idea within the TETFund environment and hand it over to the ES who will then present it to other organizations for their buy in.
Like in his brief, he said he had to consult NUC first to see what their needs areas were. He is also making consultations with industries to spread the word. He is already in discussions with industries, universities and the government. These three entities will form the triplet. It is a whole paradigm shift, so our work will be done when everybody wakes up every morning knowing why the R&D is necessary in the fabric of our nation.
You are a diaspora academic called upon to serve on the committee, how long do you intend to stay in the country for this project?
As a member of the committee, we know the world is a global village, you can be anywhere and still do what you need to do. That is why there are two Co Chairs, who can mine data anywhere in the world. So even though I might not be physically present sometimes, it does not mean that the work will stop.
We are a cohesive team, we have a platform meant for sharing ideas, like Facebook, net groups, Linkin, where at any given time we are still working. We do not have to always meet physically, but of course sometimes we do. We are a tripod, the two co chairs, and I, and we support the team of technocrats that are on the ground.
Are you optimistic that if this committee succeeds, we will have product innovation and development across different sectors of the economy?
Not if it succeeds, it will succeed because this is what drives nations. We are a third world country and we desire to do our own things, but without innovations we cannot succeed. The biggest issue is working to change people’s mindset, leading change, and having a paradigm shift.
If you recall, we use to have cell phones or house phones, but now everybody has mobile phones, all with camera and a lot of gadgets. These are all innovations, once that succeeds universities can generate revenue. But you may ask how will they generate revenue, this will be due to the partnership with the private sectors; they will bring innovations to the private sectors. The second point is that the private sectors would be sustainable because constantly they will have new products, innovations, market strategies which will come from the academia, the center of knowledge and innovations.
When you have this mutual relationship, industries will benefit and if industries benefit, the workforce especially our youths will be employed, and if our youths are employed, it solves our security issues and stops idleness. So the outcome is enormous because of the paradigm shift, there will be boom in the economy; people will be less dependent on government doing everything that is why it is called a sustainable framework.
Who is Professor Ibrahim Katampe?
I am a Nigerian, from the Federal Capital Territory. I have been a research scientist in diaspora for over 29 years. A professor of chemistry, but presently, the Director of Innovation in the Centre of Excellence in Emerging Technologies at Central State University Wilberforce Ohio. I founded the Iyatech laboratories, working in material science and product development. I am a research scientist, innovator, scholar and an entrepreneur. Before joining the Central State University, I formed Iyatech USA, an innovative R&D company focused on the development and commercialization of eco-chemical technologies. We developed and took some product into the public domain. We went from being a product development lab to producing for the market. I have a lot of published write-ups in several Chemical and allied academic journals and as an inventor I have about nine United States issued patents. I was a senior research and development scientist at Cycolor Incorporated, a Japanese owned USA-based corporation, where i worked and collaborated with technology and business companies in United State, Europe and Asia (especially Japan, China and India). I am passionate about regional economic development, “building the right of way” into Africa to combat poverty.