Research is a kind of investment that requires huge funding in order to achieve its corollary benefit of development. However, funding research can be challenging especially in less developed countries where poverty, disease, poor education and corruption may be priority. Ironically, solutions to the never-ending problems in Africa for instance lie in proper scientific research.
There is a dis-connect between policy and research. For instance Ghana allocates 0.3 percent of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP), far below the Africa Union prescribed benchmark of at least 1 percent of GDP to research. While colleague countries like South Africa and Morocco are doing about 0.7 percent. More advanced countries such as the United States and China spend over 2 percent of their GDP on research and for Israel it is a huge 4 percent.
Representatives from DAAD-sponsored Centres of Excellence in Africa gathered for the 7th Network Meeting of the Centres of African Excellence in Accra, Ghana from March, 3 – 5 2016 to discuss the important role of research for development.
African governments have over the years been encouraged to pursue the benefits from research work through policy and investment, but the calls continue to yield little results. In 2013, the establishment of the National Research Fund in Ghana was announced to centralize research spending but the process for establishing the fund remains incomplete.
Delivering the key note address at the opening ceremony of the 7th Regional Network Meeting, Ghana’s Deputy Minister for Education, Mr. Samuel Okudjeto Ablakwa admitted that the lack of meaningful research funding in Ghana is a threat to development. He congratulated Prof. Mahama Duwiejua, the Immediate Past Executive Secretary of the National Council for Tertiary Education (NCTE) for his role in the establishment of the research fund. Mr Okudjeto Ablakwa added that a draft bill for the fund would soon go before Ghana Parliament for approval.
The DAAD Programme Manager in Bonn, Dr. Dorothee Weyler and Director of ISSER, Prof. Felix Asante encouraged the internationalization of research for development and academic capacity building. The Deputy Minister for Communications, Mr. Ato Sarpong acknowledged Ghana’s good relations with Germany and expressed gratitude to the DAAD for its extensive support to Ghana’s tertiary education sector.
The Network meeting shifted into a 3 day workshop at the Volta hotel in Akosombo where representatives of the Centres including ISSER and DAAD deliberated on and analysed strategies to improve the research environment. They also discussed joint research projects for the future and sustainability through third party funding.
The 7th Network Meeting of the Centres of African Excellence was hosted by the Ghanaian-German Centre for Development Studies (GGCDS), run by ZEF in collaboration with the Institute of Statistical, Social and Economic Research (ISSER).