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Mobilizing Science-Based Enterprises for Energy, Water, and Medicines in Nigeria 2 Methodology The methodology used in this study was developed by the U.S. National Academies in collaboration with the World Bank. In the early 1990s, the two organizations worked together on two distinct projects. One was a three-year study in Indonesia, “Science and Technology for Industrial Development,” aimed at improving Indonesia’s capability to choose and use technologies in its industrial sector. One lesson learned by the two implementing partners was that foreign experts were very effective at identifying opportunities to apply new technologies not generally being used in Indonesia to development problems. However, the tasks of pointing out and avoiding obstacles and designing implementation strategies were much better carried out by members of the indigenous business, scientific, and financial communities. The second collaboration took the form of organizing a symposium of World Bank staff and National Academies experts entitled “Marshaling Technology for Development.”1 The objective of the gathering was to identify emerging technologies that would be of economic benefit to the client countries of the Bank and would enable them to find new productivity niches in world markets. The lesson for the Bank and the Academies was that the economic potential of a developing country could not be accurately assessed by taking into account only those industries 1 National Research Council, Marshaling Technology for Development: Proceedings of a Symposium, Washington, DC: National Academy Press, 1995, http://newton.nap.edu/catalog/5022.html.
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Mobilizing Science-Based Enterprises for Energy, Water, and Medicines in Nigeria and technologies currently existing in the country. Inevitably, emerging technologies could greatly affect the economic future of a country, either because they offer opportunities for exploitation, such as information technologies, or because they represent challenges and competition that must be met, such as bioengineered substitutes for natural products produced by the country. The Bank sought a methodology for assessing some of these technologies in the context of the economic, social, and cultural environment of the country, which led to the development of the “knowledge assessment.” The National Academies produced a version of the methodology in 1996, and it was field tested in Prince Edward Island (PEI), Canada, in 1998.2 The knowledge assessment methodology was designed to draw on the lessons that emerged from the Indonesia and “Marshaling Technology” projects. It was intended to be used in small, relatively homogeneous developing countries and to be carried out by an organization providing foreign expertise in collaboration with a national institution, such as a university or nongovernmental organization (NGO). The participants in the PEI knowledge assessment described it this way: Knowledge Assessment is based on a venture capital model, and involves some role-playing both by the foreign visitors and the local participants. The visitors act as the agents of hypothetical venture capitalists with a potential interest in investing in the local economy. The local participants act as consultants and possible partners anxious to help the investors find the most promising areas in which to invest. They also want to point out areas where there may be a perceived weakness in the economy or in the knowledge available so that remedies can be taken that would encourage investment. In later phases, local participants play the roles of stakeholders in the enterprises selected by the investors and help them prepare business plans. In each case, of course, the object is not to select enterprises for real investment but to use this method as a vehicle for exploring the strengths and weaknesses of the local knowledge economy. The methodology itself has its strengths and weaknesses. Its strength is that it is relatively rapid and low cost. It draws on the knowledge of insiders through strategic questioning by expert outsiders. Its weakness is that the information generated is no better than what is offered by participants (and understood and digested by the visitors), and superficiality, bias, and wishful thinking are risks. It is not an exact science, but 2 National Research Council, Prospectus for National Knowledge Assessment, Washington, DC: National Academy Press, 1996, http://newton.nap.edu/catalog/9528.html; National Research Council, Lighting the Way: Knowledge Assessment in Prince Edward Island, Washington, DC: National Academy Press, 1999, http://newton.nap.edu/catalog/6413.html.
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Mobilizing Science-Based Enterprises for Energy, Water, and Medicines in Nigeria a practical method of eliciting the knowledge possessed and often not explicitly recognized by the local stakeholders.3 HYPOTHETICAL CASE STUDIES An important stage in a knowledge assessment is the development of hypothetical case studies involving cutting-edge technologies. (In the original formulation of the methodology these were called virtual case studies.) A workshop is held for each of the selected technologies. The workshop produces a business plan or implementation plan for creating an enterprise that exploits the particular technology in the local economy, in this case Nigeria. The workshop is led by two or three foreign experts who have experience founding or managing a successful enterprise based on the technology in their own countries, often at the level of CEO. Generally, they have little knowledge of the host country. The other participants are selected from the local business, technical, financial, and educational communities for their knowledge of the technology, the market, labor, or finance. The format of the workshop is role playing. The foreign experts play the role of investors who wish to create such an enterprise in the country and prepare a business plan. The local participants assist them by playing the role of a board of directors or consultants and providing local information in response to their questions. This question-and-answer mode usually begins by a foreign expert describing what must be done to create a successful business in his or her own country and then asking, “How can we achieve this here?” Very soon the local experts begin asking the questions as they take into account their own different situation. The hypothetical enterprise becomes very specific as the participants decide on a name, site, number and quality of employees, recruitment strategy, market strategy, and choice and source of the technology. And they estimate the costs. Most important, they identify obstacles and propose solutions to problems. Sometimes, these solutions require actions by government, private sector associations, and other institutions, and these actions are reflected in the recommendations of the report. Often the same recommendations emerge from different workshops exploring very different technologies, and these recommendations can be considered high priority for a government or society that wishes to encourage science-based enterprises in general. Overall, the workshops tend to be both highly instructive and provocative for the local participants, and sometimes the hypothetical enterprise takes life from participants in the workshop, without further assistance from the organizers or the government. 3 National Research Council, Lighting the Way, p. 9.
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Mobilizing Science-Based Enterprises for Energy, Water, and Medicines in Nigeria In some instances, there may be a distinction between the opinions of the participants in the hypothetical case studies, which are reproduced in the appendixes to this report, and the views of the authoring committee. Sometimes, the committee has had access to more recent information. In any case, the workshop reports represent the views of those named in the appendixes, and the committee has derived much useful source material from them in preparing the report and recommendations. As noted, for this project a separate workshop was held to explore each of the selected technologies. The solar energy workshop was held December 8–9, 2005, in Lagos, Nigeria; the safe water workshop was held December 12–13, 2005, in Lagos; and the malaria therapy workshop was held April 24–25, 2006, in Paris, following a preliminary session December 5-6, 2005, in Ibadan, Nigeria. Nearly all of the information on the technologies in this report was provided by the expert participants in the workshops. For this reason, the emphasis in this report is not on providing technical details, which in any case must be checked and updated, but on describing the range of technological choices and the questions that must be asked by potential entrepreneurs and investors. NIGERIAN ADAPTATION The motivations underlying application of the knowledge assessment methodology in Nigeria differed from those underlying the methodology presented to the World Bank. No attempt was made to select technologies because of their potential for igniting the economy as a whole, and Nigeria is in fact much larger and more complex and inhomogeneous than the countries contemplated by the World Bank for application of the knowledge assessment methodology. The Nigerian Academy of Science was interested in the problem of providing certain basic services to sectors of the population that lacked them. With some early advice from the Chinese Academy of Sciences, the U.S. and Nigerian academies selected electric power for rural communities, safe water, and malaria treatment for consideration. These are services and products that arguably a majority of the population lacks, and the technological solutions needed to provide them are well known and available off the shelf in some other countries, but they are not available at affordable prices in Nigeria. Even though the technologies were determined in advance, application of the hypothetical case studies segment of the knowledge assessment still appeared to be valid. Furthermore, the three technologies are quite different in the type of businesses or franchises involved, as are the complexity and cost of the technology. Solar photovoltaic systems are installed in the home or community to provide electricity. At present, the technology must be imported into
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Mobilizing Science-Based Enterprises for Energy, Water, and Medicines in Nigeria Nigeria, but the service can be offered by a small local company. Maintenance, always important, must be provided on-site and regularly. With proper consumer credit, such systems can be made affordable to poor homeowners and small rural businesses. Safe water can be provided in many ways. The hypothetical case study considered ceramic filters that can be operated in the home and the more elaborate ultraviolet (UV) filters that can be purchased by a community or franchisees who would then sell safe water to households. Active operation of the unit is required, and therefore training is an important part of the service. The price of the water to the consumer would be low and thus affordable to most families without assistance, and the savings on medical services would be substantial. Although artemisinin-based malaria therapy is needed worldwide, it is presently available at low or no cost to patients only in some government clinics in the developing world. That situation will soon change, however, because of the international actions described in the next chapter, and Nigerian companies may have an early opportunity to become part of the global value chain while ensuring that Nigerians have reliable supplies. The Nigerian government has already stated its commitment to this end.
Representative terms from entire chapter: