Mr Mahama Ayariga, Deputy Minister of Education, on Monday asked stakeholders in education should seek ways of making research in African universities more relevant to the struggle to eradicate extreme poverty, diseases and hunger on the continent.
Mr Ayariga noted that Africa was still lagging behind the rest of the world in patentable research and stressed the need to correct that impression and use research to create wealth for the total development of the continent.
According to him, a good university should engage in quality research which could be translated into benefits to the society in the form of consumers’ products, technology, expertise or information besides teaching and community engagement.
The Deputy Minister said this in a speech read for him at the opening of a three day forum organised by the Association of African Universities (AAU)/International Development Research Centre (IDRC) for West and Central Africa countries, in Accra.
The forum would among other things look for mechanisms and funding arrangements for research and discuss best practices of promoting effective coordination of research into integrated and sustainable development of the continent.
Participants at the meeting which is on the theme: “Valorisation of University Research Results”, are from countries including Ghana, Nigeria, Benin Cote d’ Ivoire, some donor agencies and NGOs.
According to Mr Ayariga, the world was increasingly dependent on the output and outcomes of research undertaken by the various universities which were recognised as the focal points of today’s knowledge.
He said research was the cornerstone of modern living, adding, the research output and visibility based on highly cited papers and quality research were important criteria in the popular world ranking systems.
The Deputy Minister observed that without research, it was probable that no one could have stepped on the moon.
Mr Ayariga was not happy with the rise of the consultancy culture where clients defined problems for the researcher and situations where the focus of the research was tailored to suit clients.
This, he noted, had resulted in weak research base with little or no relevance to national development priorities or the advancement of the frontiers of knowledge.
“To compound the problem further, research governance and management are still vaguely understood concepts in many universities.”
He therefore tasked the participants to come out with concrete actions to ensure that the universities put in place appropriate governance and management structures to optimise the benefits of their research results.
In an address read on behalf, Mrs Kathryn Toure, Regional Director of IDRC, stressed the need to look for sources of funding of research in the various universities.
She asked various stakeholders to ensure that university research was used to solve the challenges confronting Africa.
Professor John Ssebuwufu of the AAU said the forum was to serve as a platform for exchanging information and ideas, identifying problems and challenges of valorisation of university research results.
He emphasised on the need to involve professional associations, academia and employers to discuss how best research could be beneficial to them in their fields of endeavours.