UNESCO ranks Nigeria among the lowest in R and D
Chikezie Omeje, September 18, 2016
A new data tool by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) has ranked Nigeria among the lowest countries in Research and Development (R and D).
Nigeria comes far behind Kenya, Mali, and South Africa in R and D spending based on the percentage of GDP.
The data released by the UNESCO Institute of Statistics (UIS) indicate that the Republic of Korea, followed by Israel, Japan, Finland and Sweden are the world leaders in investment in R and D in terms of expenditure as a percentage of GDP.
However, the top five R and D spenders are all large economies: United States, China, Japan, Germany and Republic of Korea.
The UNESCO’s new data tool entitled, "How much does your country invest in R and D?" evaluated country's commitment to R and D by looking at spending as a percentage of GDP and the actual amounts being spent in purchasing power parity dollars (PPP).
The data were released to show the leaders and emerging players in R and D as the UN General Assembly prepares to address the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) this week.
The data show that Nigeria performed poorly in R and D, compared to other African countries.
Globally, there were almost 1,083 researchers for every one million people in 2013 but Nigeria has just 38 researchers per million inhabitants, 77% males, and 23% females. Meanwhile, Kenya has 230 researchers per million inhabitants and South Africa 404.
South Korea has as much as 6,899 researchers per million inhabitants while India has156 researchers per million inhabitants.
R and D spending by Nigeria as a percentage of GDP is just 0.2% whereas Kenya is 0.8%, Mali 0.7% and South Africa 0.7%.
The African Union has a target of 1% of GDP on R and D by member countries but only Kenya, Mali, and South Africa approach the target.
South Korea leads the world with 4.3% of its GDP spent on R and D, followed by Israel with 4.1%. Austria, Germany, and Switzerland hover around 3% as does the biggest spender of all: the United States.
The data show that the overall spending on R and D in Nigeria, including government and universities, is $1, 374.8million while South Africa is $4,824.2 million.
UIS revealed that the global spending on R and D has reached a record high of almost $1.7 trillion. About 10 countries account for 80% of this spending.
According to the UIS data, China is achieving an astonishing annual growth rate of 18.3% in R and D spending, compared to just 1.4% across the rest of the world's upper-middle-income countries. China's R and D spending only amounts to 2% of its GDP, but this means the country is pouring about $369 billion into this sector each year.
As the share of global R and D expenditure by high-income countries fell from 88% in 1996 to 69.3% by 2013, China alone filled that gap, increasing its share from 2.5% to 19.6%. This means that China is increasingly approaching the United States, which accounts for almost 30% of global R and D expenditure.
“Innovation is key to achieving each of the Sustainable Development Goals. So it is essential to track R&D investment in the knowledge, technology and thinking that drives innovation in countries,” said Silvia Montoya, Director of the UNESCO Institute for Statistics.
SDG 9 calls on governments to promote sustainable industrialization and innovation by ramping up spending on R&D and increasing the number of researchers.
UIS noted that what the top 15 countries have in common is strong spending by the business sector which is an underlying factor for success.
In the UIS data, there is no indication of spending on R and D by the business sector in Nigeria.
Nigerian government spends $483,796.2k on R and D while the Nigerian universities spend $891,052.1k.