Where is the research fund the NPP promised?

Napo Press Matthew Opoku Prempeh is Education Minister

Wed, 28 Nov 2018 Source: Patrick Kobina Arthur (PhD)

We all actively campaigned for a change of government in the months leading to the December 7, 2016, elections. The scale of public policy offers being made by the then NPP party in opposition projected a sense of hope for Ghana. Upon assumption of office, President Akufo Addo stated that a research fund will be established for Ghana that will target 1% GDP immediately and raise the amount to 2.5% of GDP in the near term.

Many of us felt that the new era we hoped for had finally arrived. And that Ghana has finally got a fine chance of joining the league of science nations. And that makes a lot of sense judging from the number of world-class scientific talent both home and abroad. The talent pool that can create the same economic success that countries like South Korea, Taiwan and Singapore had achieved over a short period of 30 years.

I was in the audience at the La Palm Royal hotel in November 2017 during the World Bank's ACE workshop when the Education minister Mathew Opoku Prempeh stated that 50 million dollars seed fund had been set aside. I was quick to post this great news on facebook and went on to claim that I was the first to broadcast the good news much to the delight of my facebook friends. The same was wildly published in the Ghanaian media that week. To our utter shock, the fund was not mentioned in the 2018 national budget that was published shortly after the workshop.

We kept our calm waiting for 2019 to see whether the President will follow his pronouncements with action. Here again, the word "research" does not even appear in the 2019 budget of 170 pages. That is sad enough not to mention the total absence of the phrase "research fund". The closest words of "science" and "innovation" came up few times in reference to existing institutions like NEIP and MEST.

I feel sad for Prof. Kwabena Frimpong Boateng, a world's most renowned scientist and surgeon, for the situation he finds himself. In the midst of a government that is impervious to the reason. He has said all that needs to be said about development and science. His life is an example enough to pursued any leader removed from reality of the power of science to know better and to do better. The fact that he has not been successful at this task and come across as being hopeful the same way all of us ordinary scientists without high office raise big questions. Very big questions regarding the basis of all the statements the NPP made on Science and tech as being simply dubious and deceitful.

Should we give up on Ghana Science? NO! We will not give them our hope. We will hold on to it. And do the best our talent will allow us. We have survived the past decade and more in science because that are science funders out there in the world who value Science enough to cross borders and provide assistance to us.

The charge to me is for us in the science research community in Ghana to organize our efforts and transform them into a few key enterprises and compete globally. The next decade should not end without an original Ghanaian Science and Tech enterprise emerging not only to be profitable but also set up a foundation to fund science research in Ghana. Stepping in to provide true leadership and valuable support like Gates Foundation and Wellcome Trust are doing across the world.

Columnist: Patrick Kobina Arthur (PhD)