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$US10-billion Japanese package for science and technology research in Africa


The Japanese government has earmarked, 10 billion US dollars under its Cool Earth Partnership project, to support science and technology research in 32 African countries including Ghana, Mr. Keiichi Katakami, Japanese Ambassador to Ghana, announced on Thursday.

The Ambassador made the announcement when he led a three-member Japanese Science and Technology delegation to pay a courtesy call on Ms Sherry Ayittey, Minister of Environment Science and Technology.

The delegation was part of a team from Japan on a fact finding mission to Ghana to find areas of collaboration that would ensure that Science and Technology research in Ghana became readily relevant to national development.

The delegation had already held separate meetings and seminars with head of the various scientific research institutions under the Ministry of Environment Science and Technology (MEST).

Mr. Katakami noted that of particular interest to Japan was research into the causes and effects of climate change in Africa, with the view to finding ways to avert it and ultimately ensuring a cool earth.

Mr. Akihiko Iwahashi, leader of the Japanese delegation, said this was the first time Japan was doing something on such a big scale in Africa and, therefore, expressed the hope that ultimately the results of the research activities would contribute to the development of the beneficiary countries.

He said the money would be used to support the research activities of scientist in the beneficiary countries, particularly in areas that would go a long way to reverse the negative effects of climate change.

Ms Ayittey said the delegation had already identified agriculture, health, education and water and sanitation as areas of collaboration with Ghana under the Cool Earth Partnership project.

She noted that to reciprocate the Japanese support, the ministry was also committed to the President's Green Earth Campaign, which was intended to undertake large scale reforestation and dredging of water bodies to ensure that Ghana scored some carbon credits and reduced the effects of climate change on the environment and the economy.

Ms Ayittey said Africa was the worst hit by the effects of climate change, resulting in long draughts, food shortages, polluted water bodies and attendant poverty and diseases.

She said the ministry, through its research institutions was also committed to providing improved seeds to farmers to boost farm harvest and relevant S and T solutions to industry to ensure optimum benefits from that sector.

“We are hoping to learn from the experience of Japan in how to make S and T relevant to dealing with climate change and other threats to Ghana's economic development,” she said.

This she said would go a long way to make Ghana self sufficient, boost exports, raise GDP and make life better for Ghanaians.

She proposed an extra one week visit for the Japanese delegation to Ghana to find ways of catalysing the process since Ghana was already behind time in making S and T relevant to national development and in dealing with the effects of climate change.

Representatives of the Centre for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), proposed exchange programmes between Japanese S and T institutions and their counterparts in Ghana to enable the latter learn the experiences in Japan in dealing with Ghana's situation.

Expert's estimate that some 20 million people would die from cancer by 2015 and 70 per cent of those deaths were expected to occur in developing countries and therefore cancer research should be one of the core areas for collaboration in Ghana.