The University of Lagos is to expose its students to energy creation, management and conservation, in line with its quest to become Africa’s entrepreneurship hub.
The Vice Chancellor, Prof. Oluwatoyin Ogundipe, said this in an interview with our correspondent in Lagos.
He spoke on the sidelines of the Sod-turning ceremony of the Sahara Group School of Innovation and Entrepreneurship building and launch of the Sahara Scholar award, at university, on Friday.
“Today, we are witnessing the Sod-turning for a new building, of the Sahara Group School of Innovation and Entrepreneurship, in which our students will further be exposed in the areas of entrepreneurship, innovation and skills development.
“We already have a centre here, but as you can see, this arena here in the Faculty of Social Sciences, is fast becoming an innovation village in the university, where we showcase various types of skills development, cut across all disciplines.
“With the establishment of this new entrepreneurship centre by Sahara Group, students, aside skills development, will be exposed to innovation, entrepreneurship as well as undergo training in the area of energy conservation and energy management.
“They will also be exposed to creating energy, aside what we have been doing before, to get energy.
“This will be the first in any university in Nigeria, so we are taking our place of leadership in the country,” he said.
Ogundipe said that the Sahara Group was set to create other avenues of having energy through the centre, where they also plan to bring in Creative Arts.
He described the development as exciting and heartwarming, saying it was a one-stop-shop.
“In fact, this building that the group is putting in place is what they will call Diamond Jubilee building.
“It is going to be unique, as well as a landmark for the university.
“Don’t forget that most members of this group are members of alumni of this institution and so, they are also giving back,”
Also speaking, Mrs Ejiro Gray, Director, Governance and Sustainability, Sahara Group, noted that the building would open a world of endless opportunities and global competitiveness for young Africans.
According to her, the group is delighted to collaborate with the University of Lagos to deliver a world-class facility that will inspire future generations of innovators and entrepreneurs.
“The idea is to create a platform for the convergence of radiant and like minds that are passionate about designing the future today.
“The Sahara School of Innovation and Extrapreneurship, will be open to young people desirous of making a difference and birthing solutions to future challenges today, with emphasis on areas such as the future of energy.
“It will also focus on entrepreneurship, data science, digital arts and culture, artificial intelligence and robotics and fintech, among others.
“This project reinforces our commitment to giving back always and serves as one of Sahara Group’s contributions toward building a formidable legacy for sustainable development.
“For over 26 years, innovation and extraprenuership have driven Sahara’s growth across Africa, Asia, Europe, and the Middle East.
“We are confident that working with the University of Lagos, a foremost institution of global repute, the institution would deliver sustainable value for the benefit of Africa and the world at large,”
According to her, a timeline of 24 months has been set for the completion of the project with clear sustainability indices in terms of seamless maintenance, inclusiveness.
She listed other areas as transparency, relevance and scalability of modules/inventions, access to strategic/financial advisory and collaboration for regional and global impact.
Gray said that the group would also be instituting a Sahara Scholar award in recognition of hard work, that would be annual and comprise various categories.
According to her, the development is also aimed at ‘energising excellence through rewards to university students with outstanding performance in select disciplines.
She said that the award would begin from the University of Lagos as a pilot scheme, and progressively expand in scope across Africa.
She noted that some of the categories would be award of N1 million to the best graduating student in any particular subject, as well as award of best improved student in that particular subject.
Gray said that the N1 million award yearly for each category, would also include the provision for annual sponsorship of exchange programmes for lecturers within Africa.
Other categories include best student in Architecture, Finance and Economics, Engineering.
“We are instituting award in best improved student category in a particular subject because we recognise that some people may be late starters and so, it is important we recognise improvement, and that is what we will see in the nation as time goes on.
“The project is targeted at producing Sahara Scholars that are ‘MAD’, that is, ‘Making A Difference’ globally, in their respective areas of endeavour”.
“The unique thing about the first phase of the Sahara Scholar Award is that it is wholly funded by the Group executive directors of the Sahara Group.
“It is a way of giving back to the University of Lagos, where most of them received their university education and some also had parents who taught at the university,”
Gray lauded Ogundipe, the management, staff and students of the university for sustaining the tradition of excellence and actively promoting innovation and entrepreneurship.