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The Tertiary Education Trust fund (TETFund) has set up the National Contact Point (NCP) to serve as a channel for information dissemination on opportunities.
This is part of the fund’s commitment toward actualising the African Union (AU) and European Union (EU) partnership on research and innovation.
The executive secretary of TETFund, Sonny Echono, who disclosed this at the launch and presentation of the NCP and presentation of work programme for 2023-2024, in Abuja, said the NCP would also provide for researchers on various workshops.
Echono said TETFund, being an intervention agency for public tertiary institutions in Nigeria, had the mandate to facilitate the institutionalisation of Research and Development (R&D) in tertiary institutions to support development.
He expressed worry over the inability of Nigeria to participate effectively in the EU research funding framework programme until now.
According to him, the fund has initiated the process to ensure that the researchers from Nigerian higher education institutions participate effectively in the EU Research and Innovation framework programme, notably the Horizon Europe.
He added that the fund was providing further support to the NCP network to enable it to mobilise the Nigerian research community effectively to benefit from the platform and training programme to be deployed by the EU delegation.
“The Fund has initiated several interventions aimed at resuscitating research activities in the nation’s tertiary institutions, and the interventions are intended to facilitate cutting-edged research which will contribute national developmental efforts as well as tackle global challenges.
“The fund has also supported members of NCP to participate in the AU-EU Innovation Agenda Stakeholders Event held in Nairobi, Kenya in November, 2022 to execute the mandate of mobilising Nigerian researchers to respond to calls arising from Horizon Europe.
“TETFund is supporting research groups from various Nigerian universities through provision of training and mentoring on writing successful grant applications, project management, partnership and consortia development to further complement and extend the support being made available by EU delegates,” he said.
According to him, at present, the fund has released a request for expression of interest for Nigerian researchers and research teams.
He said that TETFund would spearhead the formation of a bilateral agreement on research and innovation between Nigeria and the EU, under the auspices of the Ministry of Education, in collaboration with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Science and Technology and innovation.
Also speaking , the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Science and Technology, Ms Monisola Udoh, said the ministry was committed to fostering and supporting the collaboration of the Horizon Europe/Nigerian National Contact Point network.
“And we hope that Nigeria will feature much more prominently than we do in the last circle.
“I am looking forward to working collaboratively with the focal persons network to push the agenda of Nigeria which is to change the narrative of Nigeria, being a consumer nation to a productive nation; even in the area of knowledge creation.
“And, we cannot create good knowledge if we don’t do research and the whole purpose of this gathering is about supporting R&D for national development,” she said.
She expressed hope that the country would benefit from the operation which would make researchers better empowered to do relevant research for national development.
“We need to focus on local problems that are basically human problems and if we are able to get the solution right here, Nigeria may become the provider of solutions that will address humanity issues globally.
“So I also want to say that the ministry has about 17 agencies and under each of the agencies, we have between 5 and 12 of research institutes that are being supervised by these agencies.
“And I want to believe that we can take this network along as we develop the programmes that this collaboration will be supporting going forward.
`So that we can truly participate and get these research institutes to be empowered to do the research they are set out to do,” she added.
Udoh added that doing this would bring Nigeria’s progress to other African countries and the rest of the world.