Leading energy and infrastructure conglomerate, Sahara Group and the University of Lagos (UNILAG) have held discussions geared towards accelerating the establishment of the Sahara Group School of Innovation and Extrapreneurship in UNILAG.
Authorities of the University of Lagos led by the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Folasade T. Ogunsola, over the weekend, received Sahara's team which included Ejiro Gray, Director Governance and Sustainability; Bethel Obioma, Head Corporate Communications; Emmanuel Ekeruche, Head of Projects; and Damilola Praiseworth, Brand Manager. UNILAG’s team also included Professor Lucian Chukwu, Deputy Vice Chancellor, Management Services; Professor Bola Oboh, Deputy Vice Chancellor, Academic and Research; Professor Sunday Adebisi, Director of Entrepreneurship and Skills Development; Dr. Abiodun Gbenga-Ilori, Deputy Director, Innovation and Technology Management Office; and Mr. Abolade Akinwunmi, Acting Director, Vice Chancellor Office.
The meeting comes in the wake of a budding mutual relationship aimed at promoting solutions that will birth sustainable energy for the future through the “Sahara School of Innovation and Extrapraneurship” project. The project was unveiled with a sod-turning ceremony in the University in October 2022.
The Director, Governance and Sustainability, Sahara Group, Ejiro Gray said the energy conglomerate was keen to ensure the project is concluded within agreed timelines. She explained that the project would inspire future generations of innovators by providing business incubation, as well as growth and accelerator support required to fully explore their latent creativity and innovative potential.
According to her, “it is another way to reinforce Sahara’s commitment to give back always. This project also serves as Sahara Group’s contributions towards building a formidable legacy for sustainable development”.
“We are confident that working with the University of Lagos, a foremost institution of global repute will deliver sustainable value for the benefit of Africa and the world at large,” Gray whose directorate would drive the project stated.
Head, Corporate Communications, Sahara Group, Bethel Obioma, said the project would serve as a template for driving Sahara's strategy for delivering sustainable energy solutions across Africa.
Obioma said a timeline of 24 months had been set for the completion of the project, with clear sustainability indices in terms of seamless maintenance, inclusiveness, transparency, relevance and scalability of modules/inventions, access to strategic/financial advisory and collaboration for regional and global impact.
During the meeting, the Sahara Scholar Award which is aimed at “energising excellence” through rewards to university students with outstanding performance in selected disciplines was also discussed.
Obioma revealed that the Sahara Scholar Award will commence from the University of Lagos as a pilot scheme and progressively expand in scope across Africa.
In her response, the Vice Chancellor expressed satisfaction with the project proposed by Sahara Group and commended the company for the "brilliant project", adding that it resonates with her vision of instituting a future-ready strategy in UNILAG.
She said the (25) twenty-five-year Strategic Master Plan of the University supports the drive towards encouraging Entrepreneurial skill acquisition programme among students. She stated that in accordance with the vision of the Entrepreneurial Centre established in 2013, the University remained committed to similar partnerships that will help students develop new businesses, market-ready ideas, and inventions.
In the same vein, the Director of Entrepreneurial Studies & Development Centre, Professor Sunday Adebisi who was also present at the meeting highlighted other areas in the institution that could support the project. He restated the university’s commitment to the project.
The visit ended with the exchange of tokens of goodwill between the Sahara Group team and the Vice-Chancellor.