Researchers in Africa demand more funding for science

a lab session led by Dr Goncalo Ramalho E Silva, from The Natural Resources Institute, University of Greenwich, UK
a lab session led by Dr Goncalo Ramalho E Silva, from The Natural Resources Institute, University of Greenwich, UK

African researchers on Saturday called on the continent’s governments to increase funding for Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) to spur growth in the region.

The researchers who ended a two-day African Technology Policy Studies (ATPS) annual forum and silver jubilee celebrations in Nairobi said that the continent has qualified scientists to take the continent forward but only with reliable funding.

“There is need to secure domestic funding through partnerships in embracing STI to help end poverty and hunger, fix problems associated with climate change and deforestation effects, tackle malnutrition and promotion of sustainable agriculture,” Crispus Kiamba, ATPS board chair said.

He said that the continent must start looking for research funding from local entrepreneurs to fund research.

Kiamba who is a former vice-chancellor of University of Nairobi (UoN) urged policymakers in the continent to borrow an example of Kenya and start appointing prominent entrepreneurs into the university councils as part of public-private partnership with stakeholders.

“We decided to engage entrepreneurs into the university councils to encourage innovation through their support and today most public universities have projects funded by the individuals,” he said.

Kiamba called for formation of innovation hubs in countrysides to help the youths start embracing technology and begin with the new model of creating jobs as opposed to seeking for employment.

Sylvester Ndeso, lecturer of epidemiology and public health at the University of Buea in Cameroon said that governments should develop policies and ensure that the recommendations are implemented to the letter.

“We must start tapping the traditional knowledge even as we apply modern knowledge in solving problems that communities go through since they have advanced untapped knowledge that can be applied to change socio-economic conditions in the continent,” Ndeso said.

Nicholas Ozor, executive director of ATPS observed that funding is critical to sustaining STI plans in the continent.

He said that ATPS is currently helping governments in developing their gender mainstreaming STI policies.

“We are currently involved in developing biodiversity policy in eastern Africa to enable countries harness abundant resources in the region,” he added.

Ozor called on governments to promote the use of mobile phone technology to help revolutionize development by informing communities on weather patterns to be able to make proceeds from their hard work.

“The telephone technology is capable of informing communities on climate information, including when the rains are about, when to plant their crops, when to sell their livestock in anticipation of drought and when to restock after drought,” he added.

The scientists cautioned that failure to allocate domestic funding into science could lead to the countries failing to achieve African Union (AU) agenda 2063 and the SDGs.

They told policymakers to give science a chance by funding research and development and diversify funding to various sectors including local food systems, energy and infrastructure to achieve uniform growth. Enditem

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