GHANA: WEEK OF CSIR CONFERENCES

(Research Staff Association AGM, 24-10-2019)

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(CSIR Administrators conference, 25-10-2019)

Source: www.africanakua.com/ Chamba Napoleon Ato Kittoe, Ghana

The last weekend of October 2019 was abuzz with CSIR activities in events that drew large pools of staff to same locations. Key among these were the Annual General Meeting of the Research Staff Association, RSA held at Kasoa in the Central region and the Accra Conference of CSIR administrators.

The big events which had distinct themes were bound by a common thread reflected in concerns over inadequate funding for research in Ghana.

At the Research Staff Association AGM, there were calls to take the veil off the enormous influence  researchers under the stamp of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research exert on national life but that which have remained latent. Arguably this is the one of the means the council may attract much needed funds to fend its core business. The Deputy Director General of the CSIR, Prof Paul Bosu, said the President of the Republic, His Excellency Nana Akufo Addo, had  occasion to commend the council for the amazing work it is doing when he paid a working visit to the CSIR’s Oil Palm Research Institute, OPRI, at Kusi in the Eastern region early October.

Wielding a quality workforce with PhD as entry requirement for all scientists, Prof. Bosu said, “the capability of CSIR is without a shred of doubt. Most of the nation’s scientific breakthroughs stood in the name of the council’s members and the sterling track record must not be shelved”. The irony is that such a wealth of human resources operate with scant resources. In absence of adequate budgetary allocation, the CSIR largely depends on donor funding for research skewed in the prescriptions of benefactors. He argued research remains the only means by which Ghana can carve up a clear identity and take control of its own desirable goals.

The Deputy Minister of Environment, Science, Technology  and Innovation, Madam Patricia Appiagyei welcomed comments in the direction to put the CSIR into visibility, saying that will market and justify the potential force it represents in national development efforts. She said, a bill to raise allocations for research to one percent of GDP, doubling current figures, is before parliament.

She also announced  government’s intentions of setting up an innovation and commercialisation centre to properly tie development with research. Finally, she charged the researchers to find answers for environmentally related health cases. This event was attended by the Directors of Water Research Institute, Institute of Industrial Research, the Institute for Scientific and Technological Information as well as the Lawmaker representing Oforikrom in Kumasi, Hon. Dr Emmanuel Marfo who is member of the parliamentary select committee on Science and Environment.

Hon. Pat Appiagyei and some mebers of the CSIR

At the CSIR conference of administrators, much of the attention focused on practices for the efficient running of public organizations. A retired Director of Administration of CSIR, Mrs Eileen Odartei-Laryea who was guest speaker called for convergence of practitioners on sound professional standards to be referenced in administrative manuals. Despite her espousal on the rules, she gave room for human discretion which settled on tolerance in all engagements among staff. The former administrator who joined the CSIR in 1976 and retired over thirty years later, said  administration divisions of public organizations must keep abreast of modern trends particularly information technology and financial management systems.

The CSIR’s Director of Finance Mr Emmanuel Ofosu Brako chaired the function. He said, the fourteen institutions of CSIR are walking the financial tightrope and needs to vigorously advance commercialisation of its activities and increase internally generated funds.

Questions centered on promotions and performance assessments during an open forum. There were the Directors of Administration, Mrs Genevieve Yankey, the Director of Institute for Scientific and Technological Information, Dr Manteaw and the Deputy Director of Water Research Institute, Dr William Agyekum in the seat to answer questions.

Chamba Napoleon Ato Kittoe is a senior journalist with the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation.

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