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Business News of Wednesday, 18 November 2015

Source: B&FT

Drive industrialisation with research

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Dr. Kwame Boakye, President of the Ghana Institution of Engineers, has urged government to integrate research into national development strategies to fully harness the nation’s total science and technology capacity to achieve industrial growth.

He said the proportion of the national budget allocated to science, technology and innovation has fluctuated between 0.3 percent and 0.5percent of the GDP. This is well below the target of 1 percent of countries’ GDP agreed upon by African Heads of States as a critical means of realising goals of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD).

Speaking at the 2015 International Research Initiatives Conference (IRIC) organised by the Accra Institute of Technology in Accra, Dr. Boakye said countries in South East Asia, Korea, Singapore and Taiwan spend as much as 2 percent of GDP on science, technology and innovation (STI).

According to Dr. Boakye, the poor performance of various sectors of Ghana’s economy -- including the manufactoring, agriculture, health and education sectors -- can partly be attributed to lack of effective application for research and development.

“Our ambition as a country that aspires to become an upper middle-income country requires a vision of development that will fully apply and integrate science and technology and innovation into national development strategies, so as to harness fully the nation’s total science and technology capacity and achieve national objectives for poverty reduction.

“Our indigenous researchers need to be supported in moving the frontiers of scientific knowledge to seek solutions for the myriad developmental challenges we face in the country,” he said.

He said government’s call for patronage in made-in-Ghana goods can only be realised if there are factories to produce those goods.

“Sadly, the manufacturing sector of this country is being allowed to become extinct because of policies which allow our market to be flooded with cheap imports. Unless we find innovative ways to resurrect the manufacturing sector very soon, our dependency will persist and deepen.

He said these problems could benefit from the conscious application of STI, adding that STI is indispensable to the growth and prosperity of any society, and Ghana is no exception.

“A nation that ignores STI has effectively conceded progress and is prepared to condemn its people to the abyss of poverty and hopelessness,” he added.

Recently, an astute legal practitioner, Ace Ankomah, held the belief that many solutions to the country’s industrial problems are hiding in various faculties and archives of the nation’s universities.

He urged industry to start digging out those archives which contain the research done by universities and bring them to life – so as to learn, unlearn and relearn the vast wealth of solutions that are presently in hiding, saying it is the mind that develops a nation….not resources.

Globally, research plays a pivotal role for effective structural transformation of any country's socio-economic environment.

The application of new technologies drawn from evidence-based research in areas such as agriculture and manufacturing has transformed many economies.