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18.11.2005 General News

Ghana needs pragmatic scientific approach

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Accra, Nov. 18, GNA - Speakers at the 46th annual week celebration lectures of the Ghana Academy of Arts and Sciences (GAAS) in Accra have underscored the need for pragmatic approach to scientific innovativeness and indigenous technology to rapidly propel Ghana's economic development.

They noted that Ghanaian scientists were acclaimed worldwide and they also had traditional skills and technologies. However, the limited innovation as well as the adoption and a adaptation of modern science and technology had resulted in a slow pace of transforming traditional production, processing, storage and packaging systems.

Speaking on: "Towards the Spread of a Scientific, Technological, and Innovative Culture," Dr Mamaa Entsuah-Mensah, Senior Research Scientist of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, underlined the critical role of the scientific, technological and engineering community in economic transformation.

She urged the scientific actors to bring out "the science in our indigenous knowledge and technologies.

"At the base of every indigenous technology, there is science, the proper understanding of which permits the mastery, adaptation and improvement in technology," Dr Entsuah-Mensah said. She said it was, however, necessary to protect such indigenous technology because of a general view of some industrialised nations that the creativity stemming from indigenous knowledge was not eligible for protection.

Dr Entsuah-Mensah said Ghana had made attempts to create a local science and technology (S&T) research capacity, but observed that the slow technical change in Ghana was due partly to the low level resource allocation and sometimes cutbacks.

Resource allocation fluctuates between 0.3 per cent and 0.5 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product, well below the target of the one per cent prescribed 1980 under the Lagos Plan of Action by the African Union.

Dr Entsuah-Mensah said the limited innovations had further been hampered by rhetorical rather than action oriented political systems, and the non-availability of three-dimensional thinkers (scientists, artists and musicians) in the decision-making body politic. She reiterated the necessity for Ghana to develop its own capabilities for science, technology and innovation in order for the nation to achieve an indigenous and sustainable problem solving approach for long-term development goals.

According Dr Entsuah-Mensah, civil servants must have science and technology background, with a capacity for policy analysis. They should be further provided with training in technology management, science policy and foresight techniques to integrate science, technology and innovation.

She called for the integration of sector Ministries to integrate projects through a mechanism that would ensure the convergence of programme formulation, planning and execution.

Aside the establishment of District Scientific Corps, Dr Entsuah-Mensah urged the Government to look closely at the recommendations provided by the Working Group on the management of S&T in Ghana for the proposal to establish a Presidential Commission on S&T. "Where possible, the President on his travels abroad to seek donor support and investments should travel with a Science Advisor."

Prof. Clement Dzidzonu, Head of Computer Science Department of the Valley View University, called for pragmatic measures to address Ghana's wide digital divide.

He said ICT could drive the development of all the key sectors of the economy, noting that it was also necessary to address inherent challenges with threats like Internet fraud.

Prof. Dzidzonu appealed to the nation to make a paradigm shift from distribution to production, and called for the development of local languages in the processing of data and computer applications. He announced that a coalition of Internet Service Providers had launched Ghana Internet Exchange Point at the Kofi Annan Centre of Excellence in ICT in Accra, to reduce local Internet traffic time and further reduce cost of local Internet services.

Prof. Dzidzonu also announced the establishment of an Innovation Centre at the Centre for periodic fairs on ICT innovations. He suggested the local manufacture of computers, adding that Ghana had to be confident and to have the self-belief in reaching that feat.