Scientists advised to collaborate with policy makers

The Director-General of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), Dr Victor Agyemang has asked scientists in the sub-region not to limit themselves with laboratory work, but to engage more with the policy makers to change their perception about science and technology.

Addressing the opening ceremony of a three day West African Cowpea Consortium annual meeting and training in Accra yesterday, Dr Agyemang said, “start engaging more in scientific advocacy to raise the status of science and technology”.

Making reference to Ghana, he said the current status of science and technology was low, manifesting in resources allocation to science and technology “fluctuating between 0.3 per cent and from 0.5 per cent of Gross Domestic Product.”

“This is well below the target of 0.1 per cent of GDP prescribed at the summit of the African Heads of State of the Organisation of African Unity, in 1980 under the Lagos Plan of Action and adopted by the African Union as a critical means of realising the goals and objectives of the New Partnership for African Development to accelerate the allocation,” he added.

Scientists from Ghana, Togo, Burkina Faso, Mali, Nigeria, Cameroon and Senegal are attending the meeting and training programme, being organised by the CSRI in collaboration with Kirkhouse Trust, to discuss the best way to improve the cultivation of cowpea, a major component of agriculture productivity and dietary intake in the sub region.

The Director-General of the CSIR said the result of inadequate allocations of the nation’s budget to science, technology and innovation “is that our science and technology institutions and faculties are underfunded and ill-equipped, creating serious strain in training of scientists and technologists.

He noted that “private funding for science and technology research endeavours, is almost completely absent in Ghana” and called on the government and the private sector in Ghana “to take cue at least from the China example in which two key stakeholders in national development make vital contributions to financing research and development activities”.

Dr Agyemang, however, said he was not “oblivious of the government intention to accelerate the allocation of a minimum one per cent of GDP to support science and technology as well the national policy on science and technology to encourage private sector to support funding for research and development activities”.

The Director-General said science and technology effort in a country was measured by indicators of science and technology human resource development, research and development, science and technology institutional infrastructure, and private sector investment in science and technology activities.

He enumerated the specific indicators as science enrolment in secondary, technical, vocational and tertiary institutions, national spending on science and technology education, research and development spending by government and private sector and the tertiary institutions, number and research and development coverage of institutions, among others.

By Salifu Abdul-Rahaman

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