The Technology Incubation Centre Scheme was designed by the Federal Government of Nigeria as an integrated support program between the Federal , the host State Government and other stakeholders in 1993 where research and development findings and innovations are translated into value products, employment creation, growth wealth generation, and promotion of indigenous technologies and potentials .The Technology Incubation Centres ( TIC) spread across the country have certainly become strategic centres for youth skill acquisition, entrepreneurship development as well as promotion of local technology in the areas they are located (states).
Recently, a land mark history was recorded by the Birnin Kebbi Technology Incubation Center when the centre witnessed the first graduation ceremony of six local entrepreneurs as well as flagged off training on innovative skills acquisition for 500 youths including women.The land mark event, which was in collaboration with Kebbi State Government, was attended by the Honourable Minister of Science and Technology, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu, Governor Abubakar Atiku Bagudu of Kebbi State, the Director General/CEO, National Board for Technology Incubation, Engr. Dr.Mohammed Jibrin , other managers of TIC from other states and hundreds of youths. The Minister of Science and Technology, Dr. Ogbonnaya, prior to attending the entrepreneurship graduation ceremony at the incubation centre in Birnin Kebbi , had paid a courtesy call on Governor Abubakar Atiku Bagudu at Government House in Birnin Kebbi where he commended the Kebbi State Government, especially the foresight of the governor for partnering with the Federal Government through the Technology Incubation Centre in Birnin Kebbi to sponsor the training of 500 youths and women in various trades. He said the country’s quest for food security and diversification of the economy by using agriculture cannot be successful without science and technology in agriculture. He emphasised that unless the country changes its approach in peasant farming to adopting and embracing science and technology through cultivation, harvesting, processing and packaging, it would be difficult to restore self-sufficiency in food production. While at the graduation ceremony, the minister said that the federal government was resolute in its decision to use science, technology and innovation to create new entrepreneurs that will stimulate the growth of small and medium scale industries which in the near future, hold promise of emerging into multinational corporations of added value to the economic growth of Nigeria. ‘’Today’s event shows our determination in the federal ministry of science and technology to help reduce pressure on currency, increase our national savings, thereby strengthening our economy.’’
The entire management and staff of the National Board for Technology Incubation (NBTI) under the chairmanship of Engr. Dr Mohammed Jibrin at the event did not hide their feelings in paying tribute to the centre while explaining the purpose of establishing the TIC’s board by the Federal Government. ‘’With the growing number of TICs at both the government and private centre levels, the National Board for Technology Incubation (NBTI) was established by the federal government in 2005 with the mandate to manage the operations of Technology Incubation Centres and Technology Parks while ensuring the commercialisation of research and development results from research establishments and related innovative efforts in line with the objectives of the Technology Incubation Program (TIP)”.
Engr. Jibril said that the purpose of establishing the Birnin Kebbi Technology Centre, like its counterparts in the country, was to promote research and development findings and innovations which are translated into value added products and services. At present, 27 additional TICs and seven extent ions exist across the country.
The director general, Dr Mohammed Jibrin commended the Technology Incubation Centre Birnin Kebbi for the successful graduation of six entrepreneurs namely: Huraira International Collections, which is into fashion accessories, home decor and handicrafts; Imrana Global Ventures Nigeria Limited, which is into fabrication of agro allied machines; Isuzu Enterprises Nigeria Limited, which is into handmade shoe manufacturing; Jahasleen Enterprises Nigeria Limited, which is into utilisation of Shea -butter for cosmetics production; Raxach Bio Degradable and Chemical Company, which is into the production of paints and Saberg International Nigeria Limited, which is into processing of bean products and also pioneer of such in Kebbi State. He promised that the graduate firms would be constantly monitored and evaluated as they relocate and operate outside the TIC to ensure their survival. Before he ended his speech, he commended the laudable efforts of Kebbi State Government towards the TIC Birnin Kebbi which he said has led to the success of the program.
The Birnin Kebbi Technology Incubation Centre, according to him, also has recorded some modest achievements since it was established in 1999. The most recent was the display of its products during the CBN ‘ Anchor Borrowers Programme ‘ last year which was admired by President Muhammadu Buhari; the cross border trade of TIC products to neighbouring states as well as Niger and Benin Republic; the centre’s participation in 2014 Global Incubation by the Universal Business Incubator (UBI); the participation of entrepreneurs from the Centre in both local and foreign exhibitions, trade fairs, forums and trainings which have received various awards. The centre also recorded efforts in capacity building of women and youths in Kebbi State through series of training programs of 100 women and youths in November 2008 and over 300 women and youths in collaboration with the Office of the Wife of the Executive Governor of Kebbi State, Her Excellency, Hajiya Aisha Atiku Bagudu in May this year. Dr. Mohammed further said that all the achievements were recorded in spite of the following challenges confronted by the centre such as seed funding especially for start-up businesses which in most cases need financial or material support, more incubation units to allow admission of more technology based entrepreneurs, installation of equipment at the utility workshop, utility vehicles and finally completion of administrative blocks.
Earlier on, Governor Abubakar Atiku Bagudu of Kebbi State, under whose initiative and support the 500 youths, including women from the state were sponsored for the skill acquisition, reaffirmed the commitment of his administration to carrying out such fruitful ventures that will better the lot of youths. He also acknowledged the importance of scientific and technological approach in agriculture by confirming that farmers under the CBN ‘ Anchor Borrower Scheme’ recorded significant yield per hectare during their harvest by using improved seeds and modern farming. ‘’The achievement we have recorded in agriculture is largely due to science and technology, the Anchor Borrower Scheme that was launched in Kebbi was successful, we did not only record significant output, we recorded massive increase in yield per hectare. ‘’
Abubakar Sadiq Koko, the Director Centre Manager, Birnin Kebbi Technology Incubation Centre, who was the man behind the success recorded at the centre, elaborated more on the activities of the centre to the community as it concerns research and development findings and the training of youths. ‘’Basically, the centre was established to nurture the commercialisation of research and development findings, to upgrade talents for the purpose of adding value to the society and also to render other community services geared towards the livelihood of the people just like the skill acquisition training to women and youths.’’
The TIC centre has provided an avenue for reducing the high level of unemployment amongst the youths through training in various trades which will reduce the pressure on government even in spite of the current economic recession. ‘’Well, I thank the graduating entrepreneurs that underwent training at the centre, it is basically drawing the attention of other would-be entrepreneurs to feel encouraged to come and join the venture to start off private business or any idea that has the potential of improving their lives and the society, just to show case or tell the world that people can come here to gain. The issue of training of 500 youths and women which we ended up training 700 of them, was at the instance of the state government which collaborated with the centre to train youths drawn from the 21 local government areas in various trades who will step down the training also at their localities. So it is aimed at cushioning the effects of the economic recession because with little capital, you can start off and earn a living. ‘’
On the issue of using science and technology to enhance productivity as the minister said, Koko was also quick to agree with the views of the minister on the matter, he said the Technology Incubation Centres have vital roles to play in modern agriculture. “A lot of researches have been done along that line on agro allied industry, ranging from fabrication of machineries to other genetic modifications, the minister was trying to talk on how synergy can be created within centres , so that while some centres don’t have what is obtainable in another centre it can be replicated. We are still having some entrepreneurs that are into fabrication of small time agricultural and agro allied processing and at our end too, we have some other value addition that is done to agricultural produce. We have quite a lot of food processing that is done at the centre and many other things. We are trying to see how we can complement the federal government objectives especially in agricultural production of rice and wheat to support the diversification effort as well.” Concluding, he said that just like any other organisation in the country, the centre needs sustainable and increased funding to be able to deliver its multi-dimensional services to the society.
The Birnin Kebbi Technology Incubation Centre has successfully trained women and youths in 15 different innovative skills namely: Yoghurt production and choice making, shoe making and leather work, painting making and painting , preservation of perishable agricultural produce, fish, poultry gearing and feed preparation, fermented food condiment (Dadawa) production, flour foods fortification, bakery and snacks making, organic fertilizer production, mattress production, welding and simple fabrication of small equipment, plumbing works and vulcanisation, air conditioner repairs and simple repairs ,tie dyeing /laundry, tailoring and carpentry, as well as beer making, home decoration, henna decoration and hair dressing.
One of the entrepreneurs who graduated at the centre, Mrs. Ester Jatau who specialises in Shea – butter for cosmetics production and is the owner of Jehasleen Enterprises Nig. Ltd, did not hide her feelings. She also voiced out to the Kebbi State Government to provide financial assistance and a plot of land for the entrepreneurs to set up their manufacturing plants or company rather than operating from their houses. ‘’My fervent request for the state government is to assist us with grants and a plot of land at the industrial layout so that we can set up our own company, it will go a long way in helping us and providing additional employment to youths in the state.’’ Mrs Jatau didn’t forget to eulogize the Birnin Kebbi Technology Incubation Centre where she graduated from as an entrepreneur. ‘The Birnin Kebbi Incubation Centre is great, it is a wonderful place because that is the best place you can get encouragement, you are accommodated, after accommodation, you don’t pay for NEPA bill, you don’t pay for water. Every time you come to produce, the centre is made available for you and in case you face any challenge that is not beyond the manager, he quickly comes and takes care of that challenge, so TIC Birnin Kebbi is the place to come and get encouragement,” she said.