From Wednesday, October 6, to Friday, October 8, 2021, the Kumasi branch of the Ghana Science Association (GSA), a multi-disciplinary group of scientists, technologists, engineers, mathematicians and industrialists, hosted the association’s 32nd Biennial Conference via Zoom.
The association seeks to contribute to the socio-economic development of the country through scientific and technological research.
It also aims to contribute to the formulation and implementation of a national policy in science, technology and innovation.
The theme for the conference was: 'Mitigating the COVID-19 pandemic: The quest for scientific and technological innovation.'
At the end of the conference, the GSA made recommendations in a communiqué, including urging the government to prioritise science by providing adequate funding for research.
It said the association had taken cognisance of a recent statement by the government to commit one per cent of Ghana’s gross domestic product (GDP) to research.
While commending that decision, it strongly advocated the need for a Research and Innovation Fund to pool resources to fund research and innovative ideas.
The Daily Graphic totally agrees with the GSA, particularly against the backdrop of its contribution to the management of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Indeed, as the association said, its members at the Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) were at the forefront of assessing suitable vaccines, medicines and equipment for use in the management of the contagion in Ghana.
Again, members at medical research centres across the country, “deployed expertise in combating COVID-19 at the beginning of the pandemic through diagnostics and genome sequencing”.
It pointed out, however, that those activities were restricted by the lack of funds, forcing the institutions to resort to external sources, which were also long in coming and unavailable.
The Daily Graphic associates itself with this call for a Research and Innovation Fund to power Ghana’s research and scientific innovation efforts.
The 2021 Mid Year Budget Review indicated that provisional GDP for last year was GHc383.5 billion, which means that the country will have to dedicate GHc383 billion into the Science and Innovation Fund to be used to spearhead efforts in scientific research and innovation.
This is laudable, given the impact of science and innovation in national development.
The paper also finds laudable the GSA’s call for multi-stakeholder consultations at all levels - policy-making, decision-taking, learning and implementation of development effort - to stamp the relevance of research and innovation on society’s growth and development.
The GSA, in its communiqué, said it had positioned itself to lead the Fourth Industrial Revolution of technological innovations in Ghana.
While we call for support to make the Science and Innovation Fund a reality, the paper is happy that the GSA has decided to hold such biennial conferences to enlighten Ghanaians on its effort and work, particularly with the commemoration of World Science Day for Peace and Development on November 10.
The day highlights the significant role of science in society and the need to engage the wider public in debates on emerging scientific issues.
We, however, call on the association and its leaders to also look at the issue of climate change by assessing Ghana’s own resilience to it and any mitigation or adaptation measures necessary to shield the country.
Already, we are faced with drastic changes, with rains coming when the harmattan should be in, for which reason we should be interested in what the implications are for agriculture, business, the economy and daily living.
We do hope that the pandemic and its lessons of self-sufficiency, as well as the triumphs of local innovation, such as the solar wash basin by Mr Richard Kwarteng Aning, the 32-year-old leather shoemaker in Kumasi, and the genome sequencing of the COVID-19 virus, both of which gained international attention, will spur on the government to the right science policy interventions for faster and better development.
The Daily Graphic again reiterates the call for the establishment of a fund for the science sector.
It hopes that the Ministry of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovations is listening and has already made a case for funding science and technology, while ensuring a good policy environment for scientific research and innovation.