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Nigerian University begins implementation of £100,000 Royal Academy Engineering Grant

Chinwe Onuigbo, Awka

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The authorities of Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, south eastern Nigeria, have officially launched the higher education partnerships in Sub-Saharan Africa 22/24 Programme, worth £100,000 from the Royal Academy of Engineering.
The project title approved by the Academy is “Catalysing the Employability and Entrepreneurial Impact of Nigerian Engineers in the Electricity Industry to Strategically Improve Access to Electricity in Nigeria”,
The grant award is aimed at improving engineering capacity in Sub-Saharan Africa by enhancing the knowledge, skills, capacity and employability of African engineering graduates; build on the research and innovation capacity of engineering students of higher education institutions in Sub-Saharan Africa and stimulate ties with industry to increase the scale of impact, VON gathered.

 

The fund was won by an Associate Professor of Business Administration and Deputy Director, Unizik Business School (UBS), Chinedu Onyeizugbe, alongside his student in the MBA programme, Mr. Ugochukwu Ifediora.

Speaking during the project launch at the Unizik Business School, Awka Campus, on Friday December 2, 2022, the Team lead, Dr. Onyeizugbe, said the project was informed by a renewed emphasis on production for export, as well as to address the structural issues necessary to stimulate the economy and drive the much desired diversification and industrialisation efforts.
According to him, “due to Nigeria’s grossly insufficient electric power generation transmission and distribution statistics, it remains commonplace and in fact, is now accepted as conventional wisdom, for businesses of all kinds and sizes to have alternate power supply arrangements, usually in form of petrol or diesel-powered electricity generating sets, which they often have to put to use in order to keep their doors open and continue providing their goods and services.”
While promising that the grant would be used judiciously, the team lead disclosed that the awardees would work with UBS, United Kingdom Partners: Teesside University of Middlesbrough TS1 3BA and V-Lab Limited; Higher institutions partners: Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu University, Igbariam; Abia State Polytechnic, Aba, and Federal Polytechnic, Nekede, Imo State; Industry Partners: Enugu Electricity Distribution Company PLC; Fedironics Limited and Century Power Limited; Professional Partners: Nigeria Society of Engineers, Awka Branch, among others.
He equally called on the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Bank of Industry (BoI), the Anambra Small Business Agency (ASBA) and other organizations to explore the possibility of gaining access to funds for achieving the objective of making self-employed entrepreneurs of Nigerian Graduate Engineers.
Also speaking, the Programme Manager, Royal Academy of Engineering, Melina San Martin commended the awardees and described the project as topical, which, according to her, affects Africa especially West Africa where only 42 per cent have access to electricity supply.
Melina said the project would boost economic activities, noting that world leaders were making efforts to achieve electricity sufficiency by the year 2030. “We need electricity in our lives in order to access clean water, quality healthcare, education and so on.
“Electricity is a fundamental human right, and the project is very important to us because it works for everyone. Successful execution of the project will help to solve local and national issues culminating in economic and social development”, she said, assuring the Academy’s unalloyed support should there be any challenge in the programme execution.
Other foreign partners who spoke at the launching were Vishak Dudhee of V-Lab and Dr. Vladimir Vukovic, a senior research lecturer in BIM and energy reduction in built environment of Teesside University, who expressed optimism that the partnership would be a robust one.
The University Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Charles Esimone, who officially launched the project, noted that the project would help to bridge the gap between the town and gown(non academic environment and university environment),to enable the students to become self-reliant upon graduation.
According to him, the project is at the core of development in Nigeria and Africa, where there are key human capacity issues.
The vice-chancellor assured the project benefactors that the university would continue to provide enabling environment and supportive atmosphere to ensure a fruitful collaboration. “We have never failed, and we will not fail in this project because it is not in our character”, Esimone, the 6th substantive vice-chancellor promised.
In a remark, the Director of Unizik Business School, Prof. Emma Okoye, said the project will address the engineering skills deficit in Africa, while commending Dr. Onyeizugbe and Ifediora for their effort in driving the research endeavour, and urged them not to relent on their oars.
Mr. Ifediora had in a vote of thanks expressed optimism that the outcome of the project would be commercialised to increase the employability skills of graduates, while assuring his high commitment to the programme execution.
Earlier, Prof. Solomon Nwigbo, one of the proposed players in the programme execution, promised to ensure that the project follows international best practices and established principles.
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