Update on Nigerian Inventors, their Inventions, Challenges and Opportunities II- By Prof. MK Othman
To date, some Nigerian inventors continue to distinguish themselves by positively impacting on the global society with multiple of innovations and inventions. Inventiveness does not recognize race or religion, it is wisdom bestowed to the selected few and Nigeria is lucky to have multitude of such few. In the last two years, two prominent Nigerians in diaspora were celebrated for their creativity and ingenuity that impacted heavily on their host countries in particular and the world in general. Yusuf Abdulrahman Sambo is one of the many celebrants making waves in communication technology abroad. Sambo is second-class upper division graduate of Electrical Engineering from the famous Ahmadu Bello University (ABU) Zaria. ABU Zaria being the hotbed of academics has always been in the forefront in producing brainy personalities that project the nation image to high heaven. In spite of the poor state of Nigerian educational system, ABU Zaria is still relatively maintaining high standard and leading in several academic areas in and outside Nigeria. This was the university where Yusuf Sambo got his baptism in intellectual arena.
Sambo’s intellectual activism created hopes to Scotland citizens that made the first woman Minister of the Country, Nicola Sturgeon excitedly announced “the country is aiming to be the 5G leader in the United Kingdom as the technology could enable Scotland to add about £17 billion to GDP by 2035 and create 160,000 jobs”. Yes, Sambo’s exceptional feat is one of the most celebrated happenings to his home country, Nigeria and his host, the United Kingdom.
A year after graduating from ABU, Sambo expressly completed his master’s degree in Mobile and Satellite Communications at the University of Surrey (with distinction and two publications) in 2011. This is a rare accomplishment even among the most privilege individuals. The distinction result of his MSc instantly earned him admission to read PhD and a full scholarship to work on a European Union-funded project on designing low electromagnetic emission future networks. He promptly took the offer and started the PhD program in earnest. His spectacular performance in first year of the PhD program earned him a mobility funding, to conduct research on mobile communications at the Texas A & M University in Qatar. Within three years plus some months, Sambo, at the attainment age of 27 in 2016, he successfully completed his PhD program in Mobile Communications from the 5G Innovation Centre, reputed as the world’s largest academic research center dedicated to next-generation mobile and wireless connectivity, at the University of Surrey. Sambo has since tapped into the center’s vision to drive the fourth industrial revolution “to enable a world where everything is provided wirelessly to the end device by a fixed and mobile (converged) infrastructure that functions across the whole geography”.
Another celebrated personality in the World of invention is USA based Nigerian, Prof. Oshi Agabi who invented “Koniku Kore”. This is one invention that came to limelight; aimed at making the seemingly ‘impossible’ become possible in the global technological revolution. Man is striving hard to unearth unsolvable challenges posed by nature. Koniku Kore is a giant invention of the 21st century; it is a device, which can fuse live neurons from mice stem cells into a silicon chip. Koniku Kore is a next generation neuro computing platform that can provide uses in security, military and agriculture. An example would be that a single neuro-chip device could sniff out explosives without even seeing it. The creation of this seemingly synthetic brain is a breakthrough combination of robotics, neuro-biology, computing and bioengineering.
Koninku Kore is an application for real-world issues such as detecting illness and terrorism threats and it offers a glimpse into how biology can be integrated into technology, and ultimately how the human brain can help technological advancements.
The Koniku Kore technology attracted media blitz with BBC and CNN leading in “breaking the news” during TEDGlobal Conference in August 2017 in Tanzania. The world is amazingly seeing a technology, which has created computer with artificial intelligence modeled on the exactness of the human brain. Whereas computer is better than human brain at complex mathematical equations, there are many cognitive functions where the brain is much better. Thus, making a computer to recognize smells would require colossal amounts of computational power, energy and high intellectual thinking.
Koniku Kore is an amalgam of living neurons and silicon, with olfactory capabilities — basically sensors that can detect and recognize smells. The Nigerian born inventor, Oshi Agabi proclaimed before the international journalists at the conference, “You can give the neurons instructions about what to do – in our case we tell it to provide a receptor that can detect explosives.” He envisages a future where such devices can be discreetly used at various points in airports, eliminating the need for queues to get through airport security. Instead of joining line for endless search at the airports, people will just be allowed to pass while the neurons-silicon computer clear or unclear them through smell. The same computer can be used for bomb detection. Oshi Agabi with his Koniku Kore is a special Nigerian who deserves global accolades and a pride to Nigeria as a nation. He is certainly one of the few fêted Nigerian inventors playing excellent ambassadorial job to the nation. Jelani Aliyu is another prominent Nigerian in USA, currently in Nigeria supporting the development of Nigerian Automobile Industry.
Jelani Aliyu, a Nigerian from Sokoto state lived in USA and became a celebrated car designer of General Motors. General Motors is perhaps the world’s largest automobile maker. Jelani Aliyu is the designer of the Chevy Volt, a car refuted to be an American Revolution and considered to be one of the apt concepts in the design line. Globally, Jelani’s work was considered to be a masterpiece in the car industry because it was the best selection made out of many entries from renowned automobile designers across the continents. Prof. Carl Olsen, an American professor of automobile design, a teacher to Jelani described Jelani’s piece as the bright future of General Motors. He said “Jelani is exceptionally gifted as a car designer….. he is representing the future of the General Motors….every designer was giving opportunity to design a car that can meet certain criteria, not only in the United State but Britain and Germany submitted their designs for the project. In the end, Jelani’s design was chosen as the best design” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vqx-xKGeDCA ).
Jelani came to limelight and had his biggest break in 2007 when his car design was chosen as the best among the 200 global competitive submissions for the Chevrolet Volt. His car design (Chevrolet Volt), battery-powered electric car was later described as the, the “American revolution and one of the hottest concepts in the design line” and “most technologically advanced vehicle.” Since then, his illustriousness knew no bound and continued to be a universal celebrity, ingenious car designer par excellence until 2017 when he left his comfort zone, General Motors USA to directly serve his motherland, Nigeria.
Although, Jelani’s popularity among the Nigerians in diaspora was unprecedented but few Nigerians at home were aware of his accolades. Professor Ibrahim Garba, the outgoing Vice Chancellor of ABU Zaria made Jelani’s “discovery” possible when he was invited to present 39th Convocation lecture of the university. Thus, ABU Zaria was able to bring the ever busy and famous Jelani Aliyu, MFR to the 39th Convocation as the speaker of the Convocation lecture. The lecture gathered and assembled “who is who” in the nation automobile industry, technocrats, politicians and academia. The presentation of Jelani as the speaker of the 39th Convocation of Ahmadu Bello University on 25th November 2016 was a thought provoking, an inspiration to the young Nigerians and bundle of hopes to the generality of the populace. The lecture was titled “Innovation – Key to Economic Growth and Development” where Jelani shared his thoughts, vision and dream for Nigeria’s revolutionary advancement in technological breakthrough. The subject of the lecture is “innovation”. Jelani described “Innovation as the phenomenon that has propelled earlier great civilizations and today’s developed nations to success. It is the continuous commitment of a people to develop new and more effective solutions to their challenges, establishes their societies as progressive and economically successful, thereby creating employment, fulfillment and higher living standard”. My article on the Jelani’s lecture can be accessed via https://www.blogger.com/blogger.g?blogID=4040876004067686701#editor/target=post;postID=7413937071079746223;onPublishedMenu=allposts;onClosedMenu=allposts;postNum=135;src=postname
Perhaps, that event, the convocation lecture inspired President Buhari’s invitation of Jelani to “come and help” Nigeria to achieve technological revolution.
Few months after the convocation lecture, in early 2017, Jelani left his post as the lead exterior designer of General Motors to become the Director-General of the Nigerian Automotive Design and Development Council (NADDC). What are his strides three years after his appointment? The update Nigerian inventors will continue next week.