Ghana government says it’s committed to research fund
The government is still committed to the national research fund and is working towards its establishment and full implementation.
Mr. Okudzeto Ablakwa, Deputy Minister of Education in-charge of Tertiary Education said government had made the establishment of the fund a priority to ensure that it worked better for the benefit of all.
“The President intends to put in place a better modality that would be beneficial, accepted and linked to the structural transformational agenda of government programmes.
He said the vision of President Mahama “is that we should have established, a research modality that would be beneficial to the generation of knowledge and solving our problems and even linked the structural transformational agenda because the President is concerned that we are not adding value to our products and we are not exporting more as expected”.
Mr. Ablakwa was speaking to the GNA at an international conference on Innovative Approaches to Funding Higher Education and Research in Africa which opened on Wednesday in Lome, Togo.
The three-day meeting is being hosted by the Togolese government and sponsored by UNESCO, the Association of African Universities (AAU), the Association for the Development of Education in Africa (ADEA ) and the African and Malagasy Council on Higher Education (CAMES).
Ghana’s 20- member delegation is led by Mr. Ablakwa, with others including Dr Pascal Andoh Hoba, Director of Knowledge, Communication, ICT and Services and Professor D.D. Kuupole, Vice Chancellor of the University of Cape Coast.
“The 2015 budget has an ambitious target to move our non-traditional export from 2.3 billion dollars to 5 billion dollars in 2015 and so we need research as it is through research that we can use modern technology and cutting edge solutions to add value to our raw materials to be able to achieve this transformational agenda of the President.
“That is why the President is keen of establishing the research fund in this year, which the unions kicked against and asked for the reopening of the whole proposal to cover their input and for other considerations and for which we have began the process”.
Mr Ablakwa said his participation in the conference had enabled him to learn a lot. “For example I have learnt that South Africa has a national research foundation and have learn a lot from how they operationalise it and is making a huge impact. I also found from the conference that South African science lecturers are topping the list in terms of publications in international magazines of knowledge accounting for 46 per cent publications in science journals.
The next country according to the Minister, is Kenya, which has 11 per cent followed by Nigeria with four per cent, but Ghana has nothing to show for the records.
Mr Ablakwa said he was not surprised but now had a conviction for a high justification for Ghana to have a national research fund like South Africa.
He said all the experiences shared at the conference indicated that other entities came to support even government’s allocation citing South Africa for example the private sector contributed 52 per cent into the national research fund.
Mr Ablakwa said many other entities including the corporate bodies would come on board because they all needed research to remain competitive and profitable in business.
“The conference is therefore a boost to the national agenda to establish a national research fund in the country and I am very happy that there are other stakeholders in the Ghanaian delegation who are interacting with others and would help prepare the ground for take of for the national fund because the nation cannot wait as we are really lagging behind”.
Ghana currently has an international student population of 10,399 studying in various disciplines in the universities and polytechnics both public and private.
Mr Okudzeto Ablakwa, Deputy Minister of Education in Charge of Tertiary Education said the number only represented the universities and polytechnics and that the other specialized institutions like the Ghana Institute of Languages, Banking and other professional institutions.
In an intyerview with the Ghana News Agency in Lome, Togo, Mr Ablakwa who was speaking on the sideline of the international conference on Innovative Approaches to Funding Higher Education and Research in Africa said the students came from 60 different countries around the globe.
They include those from Europe, the Americas, Asia and Africa. Some of the countries are Israel, Algeria South and North Korea, Pakistan, Canada and United States of America which tops the chart.
“This shows that the standard of our higher education is impressive and we will continue to ensure that our foreign students find Ghana a better destination for studies”.
Mr Ablakwa said Ghana had always made sure to take good care of the students. For example, Ghana did not shut her borders to the students coming from the Ebola infected countries as way of containing the disease.
This effort by government showed that “We have all our students at heart and want our higher education to become a preferred educational destination”, he added.
Mr Ablakwa said government intended to improve upon all the incentives being provided to attract more students whose presence and stay in the country contributed to improving the economy.