Combined effort to co-create RDI coordination in Nigeria yields success

In pursuing socioeconomic development, African nations stand at a critical juncture where the synergy between Research, Development, and Innovation (RDI) holds immense potential. The need for coordinated RDI efforts has never been more pressing. Countries need to leverage RDI as a catalyst to address various socioeconomic challenges and drive inclusive and sustainable development. Yet, traditional top-down approaches to RDI coordination have often fallen short of addressing African countries’ complex and interconnected challenges.

Hence, there is the need for co-creation – a model of collaboration that transcends boundaries fosters inclusivity and empowers stakeholders at all levels to contribute to the RDI quest. At its core, co-creation recognises that the expertise, insights, and perspectives of diverse actors (—from government agencies and research institutions to civil society organisations and grassroots communities) —are essential for driving meaningful change. Recent initiatives such as the African Union’s Science, Technology, and Innovation Strategy for Africa (STISA-2024) and the African Union Development Agency’s Science, Technology, and Innovation Strategy for Africa (STISA-2024) have underscored the importance of co-creation in advancing the RDI agenda on the continent.


New efforts in Nigeria

Nigeria is making headway in defining a new direction for co-creating the coordination of RDI activities. At the recent maiden RDI Coordination Summit, organised by WACREN with the support of the FCDO-UK, over 200 participants from various government and non-government organisations agreed on a coherent path to co-creating an all-inclusive RDI coordination in the country. Through the participation and discussions of various ministries and high-level government officials, the government of Nigeria demonstrated immense commitment to working with various stakeholders to realise the national agenda through RDI efforts. This assurance by the Nigerian government is expected to foster interdisciplinary collaboration, breaking down silos and fostering synergies across sectors.

The Summit laid the groundwork for a transformative RDI ecosystem that extends well beyond its immediate outcomes into sustainable RDI projects, which will reposition Nigeria as an emerging economy. Discussion themes were anchored on the eight priority areas of the Nigerian government’s ‘Renewed Hope Agenda’.  A detailed map of the RDI stakeholder’s database, including state and non-state actors, their initiatives, and focus areas, was created through incisive, broad-based interactions at the working group level. The Summit identified and documented various RDI coordination mechanisms involving ministries, government agencies, private sector initiatives, and other entities. Also, coordination mechanisms evaluated the progress, including their goals, achievements, challenges, and political interests. The Summit also analysed the alignment of coordination mechanisms with national policies such as the Science, Technology, and Innovation (STI) Policy, National Innovation Policy, etc. Lastly, the Summit appreciated the active participation of diverse stakeholders, including government representatives, international organisations, private sector players, academia, and civil society. 


Next steps for Nigeria

One of the key advantages of co-creation of coordination lies in its ability to generate innovative solutions that are contextually relevant and socially inclusive. By engaging stakeholders from various sectors, the Summit unearthed various dynamics and local nuances that will dictate the effective and efficient coordination of RDI activities. Several technical working groups were created to perpetuate discussions and, hopefully, grow into National Think TanksThinktanks to support the realisation of the eight priority areas of the government of Nigeria. 

The co-creation of RDI coordination is key to unlocking Africa’s potential for socio-economic development. By fostering inclusive partnerships, embracing interdisciplinary approaches, and promoting knowledge sharing, African countries can harness the transformative power of RDI to address pressing challenges and build a prosperous and resilient future.