The government has charged the Centre for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and other research institutions in the country to help find cost effective ways of reclaiming land and water bodies degraded through illegal mining (galamsey).
At the CSIR’s 60th anniversary awards ceremony in Accra on Friday, the Senior Minister, Mr Yaw Osafo- Maafo disclosed that reclamation of degraded land and water bodies was estimated to be between $12,000 and $43 ,000 per hectare of land.
“To achieve the best mix of reclamation responses to make those destroyed communities bounce back to life, we will count on CSIR and other scientific and technological institutions to lead in the search for permanent solution to this self inflicted menace,” he said.
More than 40 personalities were honoured for their exploits in research and science including the Minister of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovations, Professor Kwabena Frimpong -Boateng, founder of the National Cardiothoracic Centre and the Ghana Heart Foundation.
Others honoured in the lifetime achievement category were Dr Letitia Obeng ( Water and Environment); Dr William Agble (Agriculture); the late Prof. Francis Allotey (Physics and mathematics); Prof. Aba Bentil Andam (Physical Sciences) and Prof. Felix Konotey Ahulu (medical research).
The 60th anniversary which started in March 2018, was under the theme “CSIR-60 Years of Research with Impact for Sustainable Development; the Role of Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) Policy Research.”
The government, Mr Osafo-Maafo assured, was determined to clamp down on galamsey, saying “we have to win this fight at all cost. I can assure you President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo will never cave in to this galamsey cancer. Make no mistake; the galamsey fight is one the President will never renege on. “
To boost the work of CSIR and other institutions, he disclosed that Cabinet had approved an increase in the country’s expenditure on research from 0.45 per cent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), to one per cent.
Termed as Gross Expenditure on Research and Development (GERD) , the allocation, he said, would be sent to Parliament for subsequent approval adding that the government was willing to scale the allocation up further if need be, due to its firm belief that scientific research was a key driver of sustainable development.
“If you are interested in development, you must make decisions not based on guesses but based on actual research.”
“It is therefore an uncompromising determination of this government to anchor all her policies on well researched, scientific and technologically driven framework to accelerate socio-economic growth,” he said.
Mr Osafo- Maafo charged research institutions to continue giving scientific backing to government’s initiatives including One district, One factory, Planting for Food and Jobs and its variants for the programmes to yield maximum results.
The support of scientific research, he said was critical to the achievement of the Ghana Beyond Aid as it would help boost core areas such as food security, environmental management and industrialisation.
The Senior Minister noted with praise the critical role CSIR had played in the development of the country over the last 60 years through innovation in various sectors despite challenges and urged the aging researchers and scientists to mentor young ones to step in their shoes when they leave the scenes.
Professor Frimpong-Boateng noted that a robust science, technology and innovation system was capable of solving challenges in all sectors, accelerating national development and helping the realisation of the Ghana Beyond Aid.
The CSIR Director General, Prof. Victor Kwame Agyeman touted the exploits of the centre over the six decades in the sectors including agriculture, technology and energy and acknowledged the efforts of all stakeholders.
BY JONATHAN DONKOR