From Femi Folaranmi, Yenagoa

The Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB) has highlighted the need for investment in Research and Development in the oil industry as a pathway to drive growth.

The Executive Secretary of NCDMB, Engr Simbi Wabote who stated this at a one-day tax awareness workshop organized in conjunction with the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) in Yenagoa on Tuesday, pointed out that though there is a $50million Nigeria Content Research and Development fund meant to drive basic research, commercialization research breakthroughs, establishment of Centres of Excellence and sponsor university endowments, government should not be the sole provider for funds.

According to him the bulk of R&D funding should come from the private sector who are business owners and will ultimately benefit directly from the research outcomes.

“Analysis of budgets of leading Fortune 500 companies such as Apple, Walmart, Amazon reveal that they commit between 5- 10% of their annual budgets on R&D and in return they have innovative products that has enabled them to make significant tax returns to government, create more employment opportunities than most Governments and remain market leaders. This is our dream for Nigerian oil and gas service companies,” he said.

Wabote attributed the low level of private sector funding in research and development to dearth of information on available incentives and benefits of funding, stressing that the implication has been grave for the sector.

“ The consequence is not only significant capital flight in the acquisition of technology required for oil and gas projects and operations; but also players in the sector are tied to the apron and direct control of foreign supply chain who control the technological advances arising from their research and development activities,” he added

Wabote expressed optimism the workshop would serve its purpose to highlight the inherent benefits of investing in research and development and showcase the mutual benefits to both the private sector and the government.

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The Executive Chairman, FIRS, Mohammad Nami represented by his Senior Special Assistant, Mr Gabriel Ogunjemilusi, while noting that the Federal Government has continued to provide enabling tax policies to support business in Nigeria, said research and development have been identified as a veritable means for companies that want to remain competitive and profitable in today’s rapidly changing business environment.

He drew attention to the linkage in the growth of the Nigerian economy through the oil and gas industry propelled by research and development.

“The growth of the Nigeria Oil and Gas industry is very crucial to the economic development of Nigeria, being a single sector that contributes the largest income to the Nigerian economy.

Research and Development is essential for the growth and sustainability of the Nigerian oil and gas industry. By investing in R&D, the industry can improve exploration and production, reduce environmental impact, develop local content, and improve safety and security. This can help the industry remain competitive and contribute to the country’s economic development.”