Government committed to science, technology research funding – Environment Minister

Sherry Ayittey - Minister of Environment, Science and Technology

Ms. Sherry Ayittey, Minister for Environment, Science and Technology, at the weekend reaffirmed Government’s commitment to fulfilling the allocation of 1 per cent of Gross Domestic Product to research in science and technology.

She said the move was aimed at strengthening science and technology research in the country for effective development.

The Minister said these at the opening ceremony of the Leverhulme-Royal Society Africa Award Meeting, organised by the Ghana Academy of Arts and Sciences (GAAS) in Accra.

She said the event would provide a platform for discussions on intellectual property in academic research in Ghana and Tanzania.

The Leverhulme-Royal Society Africa Award was launched in October 2008, to transfer skills from the United Kingdom to the laboratories in Ghana and Tanzania through workshops and seminar on research projects.

It also aimed to develop and maintain excellence in science in both countries and to strengthen the research and training capacity of African institutions.

Ms Ayittey said the Society received 45 applications with 27 of them coming from Ghana at the close of the first round of applications for 2011 and added that the Ministry was satisfied with the sustained interest showed by young Ghanaian scientists.

She said that Government had “succeeded in effectively initiating the necessary physical and paperwork, which culminated in the establishment of two science-based universities in the country.”

Ms Ayittey stressed that the Bills on the establishment of the University of Health and Allied Sciences in the Volta Region and the University of Energy and Natural Resources in Brong Ahafo were passed last year.

She said the Cuban Government had supported 250 Ghanaian students to benefit from medical training in that country and that 200 of them would study first degree medicine while 50 of them would benefit from specialist training in medicine.

The Minister congratulated GAAS for its collaboration with the Ministry, to enhance and expand the public’s understanding and appreciation of science by instituting the best science journalist award.

Dr Hans Hagen, Senior Manager for Royal Society Africa Awards, said ‘African science’ would benefit from an extra 3.4 million euro grant from the Leverhulme Trust for the Royal Society, to continue its capacity building scheme for Ghana and Tanzania.

He said the awards had already ensued that 3.3 million euro had been invested in science in Africa over the last three years.

Dr Hagen said that due to the success of the scheme, the Leverhulme Trust agreed to extend funding for another five years.

He said so far grants of up to 150,000 Euros had been awarded to support research and training in Ghana and Tanzania over the past three years.

Mr Hagen said that in the next phase, 180,000 Euros would be provided for bi-lateral collaborations between researchers in the United Kingdom and Ghana and Tanzania.

Professor Francis K. A. Allotey, President of GAAS, said the scheme was successful partly due to collaboration between researchers at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology and the University of Edinburgh in Tanzania.

He said the scientists developed technologies to produce safe drinking water using laterite, soil type rich in iron and aluminium, as a sorbent and ultra filtration for physical disinfection.

Prof Allotey  said that applicants for awards were encouraged to apply in five priority areas identified as being relevant for Ghana and Tanzania, and mentioned agriculture, water and sanitation, basic human health research, biodiversity and energy.

Source: GNA

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