By: Joyce Gyekye
Ghana has set a decade starting from last year to 2032 within which science, technology and innovation would account for the largest part of the country’s GDP. That same period is expected to see the largest increase in new Ghanaian-led businesses, an increased number of Ghanaian well-paying jobs with the attraction of the highest number of technologies, and innovation-driven multinational companies operating in the country.
The Minister of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation, Dr. Kwaku Afriyie announced this in a speech read for him at a roundtable event on commercialization of Science, Technology, Innovation, Research and Sustainability, STIRS. The event forms part of the Annual meeting of West and Central African Research and Education Network (WACREN). The Minister said to accelerate the country’s industrialization drive, there is the need to strengthen STI and rigorously apply it to national goals. The Minister’s speech was read by his personal assistant, Mr. Oliver Brachie.
He said ‘’In order to achieve our objective within the target period, we have developed a master plan to turn Ghana into a nation of innovation. We are beginning to implement it through Policies, educational reforms, and funding support. we will develop infrastructure such as innovation and entrepreneurship centers for training, prototyping and consultancy at strategic locations across countries and empower communities to utilize the services provided by these centers. This will help the youth to develop their skill sets and competencies in our local communities and will enhance their prospects of creating their own enterprises.
A representative of the British High Commission, Mamusu Harry-Seshie reiterated the importance of research to scientific innovation and technological advancement. She emphasized UK’s commitment in forming strong and trusted alliances in Africa to ensure that the power of science permeates across the continent to deliver impactful and transformative change. On commercialization of research innovation, Mamusu Harry-Seshie said it will bring emerging technologies to the market and lead to the creation of new industries and jobs.
She said the UK is assisting Ghana to create an enabling environment for a thriving national STI ecosystem for stakeholders to produce structures from research through commercialization across different sectors. The CEO of WACREN, Boubakar Barry briefed participants about the objectives of the network which is to interconnect national research and educational networks to build regional educational networks to the benefit of the member countries.
WACREN has members in several countries in western central Africa including Benin, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Cameroon, Guinea, Liberia, Niger and Mali. He said ‘’In all these countries, we have what we call.
National Research and Education, in Ghana we have the Ghanaian Academic Research Network. What our members do is to interconnect universities and research centers, hospitals, library etc. into national network to share a common infrastructure and provide service to the end user’’. Chief Strategy Officer of West and Central African Research and Education Network (WACREN), Omo Oaiya said for African research institutions to leverage on technology, taxes on scientific equipment should be reduced considerably. He complained about the huge taxes on meteorological equipment that the network has to pay to support Ghana Meteorological Agency (Gmet).
He said ‘’we have workshops that is training researchers from all across the region including Ghanaian researchers and we have gotten some equipment to give them. But the taxes that we have to pay on the equipment to train what is largely Ghanaian researchers is 40 percent the cost of equipment. Now if we are really serious about doing that kind of infrastructure to support research in Ghana, then there must be concessions for what you need to establish it’’.