The University of Lagos (UNILAG) was able to attract up to N5 billion in research in the past one year, a lecturer in the university has said.
Speaking during a press conference ahead of the institution’s 14th Annual Research Conference and Fair coming up August 21 to 23, Chairman of the Abstract Sub-Committee, Dr Diran Akinleye, said the grants, which came from mostly foreign sources had helped boost the institution’s international ranking to first in Nigeria and 12th in Africa.
“In the last one year, the university has attracted about N5 billion in external research funding. This is why, among other reasons, at the moment the University of Lagos is ranked the best in Nigeria and 12th best in Africa, according to Times Higher Education ranking.
“Activities like the research fairs are organised to position the university among the top three in Africa in the next three years,” said Akinleye, an associate professor.
Chairman of the Conference Planning Committee, Prof Abayomi Okanlawon, said Dr Dere Awosika, an independent non-Executive Director in Access Bank, and Chairman, Chams PLC, would deliver the keynote address on the theme: “Automation and Artificial Intelligence: Opportunities for the 21st Century Research and Development” at the conference, while former Group Executive Director, NNPC and now Executive Partner, Africa Capital Alliance, Mr Afolabi Oladele, an engineer, would serve as the Plenary Speaker.
Speaking on the relevance of the theme to Nigeria, Akinyele said it was pertinent for Nigerians to begin to understand the many ways that Artificial Intelligence (AI) was impacting their lives and prepare for the changes.
“A lot of things we take for granted are becoming automated. Much of the work humans do are being automated. A clear demonstration of the impact of AI is our mobile phones which has eliminated the need to go to the post office. You don’t even have to use a desktop before you respond to your mails; you can use your phone.
“This, while good, also has its other side – ethical issues about privacy, unemployment and so on. African countries lag behind in the level of automation worldwide. If we don’t do something to get on board, we would be further disenfranchised,” he said.
During the fair holding at the Jelili Omotola Halls of the university, Okanlawon said a zero-emissions car being designed by a team led by Prof Samson Adeosun and and an improved brake pad for the aviation sector by Dr Olumuyiwa Agunsoye would be among innovations on display.
Okanlawon said the aim of the research fair, which is open to academics, researchers, students and industry experts, is to stimulate the interest of young scholars in research.
“We have a strategic purpose; we want to attract young academics and keep them. We believe that for anybody looking for mentorship, this is the conference,” he said.
This is the Olympics of research fairs,” he said.
Also speaking, a member of the Abstract Sub-Committee, Dr Olaolu Olufemi, said the fair would not only feature innovations in sciences but the humanities as well.
“The theme for this year would almost conclude it is purely a scientific affair. But the conference and fair are all-embracing and you see works from arts and humanities. For example, how AI will change dialectics, languages. For example, the contemporary English we learn in school is no longer the language of the youths on Whatsapp,” he said.
Over 200 oral and poster papers would be presented at the event which is being sponsored by the university, Access Bank, Vitafoam, UBA PLC, Chams, Union Bank and others.
The event would feature the best researcher competition in which the top researchers would be rewarded.