The West Africa Built Environment Research (WABER) has marked its 10th anniversary with the official opening of its conference in Accra.
Members of the high table at the opening ceremony joined the Chairman of the WABER Conference, Prof Sam Laryea to cut the anniversary cake.
Speaking at the opening session of the three-day conference, the Vice-Chancellor of the Accra Technical University, Prof S. N. Odai charged higher institutions of learning to provide research-based solutions to the many problems confronting the society.
He said "we need to do research that generates impact and improve the lives of our people.
"Our research must be locally responsible and globally competitive at the same time," he told the research drawn from around the continent.
Prof Odai said it was the responsibility of higher institutions of learning to give a modest expectation to the society.
The WABER was established in 2008 to provide a platform to help doctoral students and early career built environment academics in the West Africa region, develop their research work and skills through face-to-face interaction with an international panel of experienced academics.
The biannual conference is on the theme, "Seeking innovative and sustainable African development solutions.”
Prof Odai expressed concern that even though a great amount of the budget in African countries was invested in higher education, "we have not been able to give back to society."
“That is why society some times gets perplexed because we have not been able to meet their expectation. We need to give something back to society,” he stated.
Prof Odai tasked academics to communicate their research effectively and not to leave them in the shelves to gather dust.
"Our communication between conferences, the knowledge must go to the right persons, not just only to the policymakers, but the students.
"Please let's find a way not to end all these good ideas in this room," Prof Odai charged the researchers.
He proposed the organisation of colloquia, presentations in the universities and within professional institutions.
He was grateful to the organisers of the conference for putting together the event and was hopeful that by the next conference, "we are going to come out with new ideas."
Speaking on research funding, the Chief Executive Officers Mr Andrew Chimphondah of Shelter Afrique announced $1 million fund to support the conversion of research in Africa into a viable option.
He explained that Shelter Afrique would use the $1million as evidence of commitment to research, adding that the $1million fund was already, available and accessible and called on the prospective researcher to contact or email the Head of The Shelter Afrique Centre of Excellence Dr Muhammad Gambo.
“Shelter Afrique will approach organisations such as the European Investment Bank (EIB), The French Development Bank ( AFD) and the African Development Bank (AfDB) for funding to support innovative research to achieve Sustainable Impact within the Affordable Housing sector,” Mr Chimphondah explained.
He reiterated his company’s committed to supporting financially to help with quality research to find a solution to the deficit of housing needs in the African continent.
He noted that there was a fundamental funding gap in developing affordable housing to addressing the housing deficit, citing for instance in Nigeria about 22 million without housing.
“The rationale behind the fund is to encourage innovative solutions in alternative building methods that lead to affordable housing construction within the African context so that more Africans get access to decent and affordable housing,” he explained.
“We in Shelter Afrique want to support WABER,” he said, adding that innovation was one of the key values for Shelter Afrique.