Government intends to increase funding for science and technology, particularly research and development, from 1percent to 3percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), President Nana Akufo-Addo has said.
Speaking at the closing ceremony of the 6th edition of Innovation Prize for Africa (IPA), organised by the African Innovation Foundation (AIF), the president pledged to put legal and policy measures in place to ensure science, technology and innovation receive the best of attention.
“We’ve committed ourselves to ensuring the minimum of 1percent of Ghana’s GDP is applied towards R&D, a figure which will be increased over the years to 3percent of GDP. It will enable the creation of a National Science, Technology and Innovation Fund,” he said.
President Akufo-Addo noted that the government will, through a Presidential Advisory Council, provide uninterrupted attention to science, technology and innovation.
“The council will be composed of eminent scientists, engineers, industrialists and other accomplished professionals, with a broad mandate to advise the president on issues bothering STI.”
The president said government will set up the Technology Commercialisation Unit to spearhead partnership between agencies, research institutions, industry and academia.
“Perhaps, the most crucial is the institution of promoting Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education throughout the educational structure of the country. Government is determined to organise STEM learning centers in various locations across the country,” he said.
To guarantee continuity from one administration to the next, the president added that an STI Bill is being drafted for approval by cabinet and for subsequent ratification by parliament.
“It will provide statutory backing for the policy and ensure continuity in its implementation even with changes in government.To this end, the sector minister is taking measures towards the establishment of a foundry that will be used to manufacture basic tools and instruments to support sectors such as agriculture, industry, oil and gas and automotive,” he added.
The president noted that Ghana’s decision to partner the African Innovation Foundation (AIF) to host the 2017 edition of the IPA is as a result of government’s commitment not just in supporting innovation in Ghana but also on the continent of Africa.
“Platforms such as the IPA are vital for building stronger synergies amongst key science, technology, innovation stakeholders in Ghana, whilst expanding linkages with international partners to promote STI development.
In Africa, most of our institutions do not have policies for patent or intellectual property rights because of the apparent lack of awareness. We stick to staff promotion policies that do not encourage our academics to be innovative. It is time to encourage our researchers to think big and for us to extend the protection they need for their inventions,” he said.
Founder of the Africa Innovation Foundation, Jean-Claude Bastos de Morais, noted that this edition of IPA has been all about galvanising support for African innovators in order to mobilise increased investments to help them commercialise and scale their innovations at a greater rate.
“AIF has rewarded IPA 2017 for developing solutions that can truly add value to the lives of Africans, and I believe that these innovations have incredible commercial potential and will succeed in attracting the right investments to go to the next stage.”
Chairman of the IPA 2017 Jury, Prof Nyasse Barthelemy, said deciding on winners was tough as the quality of innovations was high. “Each of the innovations, in their own respective ways, were winners as they represented local solutions to local challenges. It came down to the wire but we believe we have awarded the most compelling innovations this year. We look forward to seeing what comes next for the incredible innovations from IPA2017innovators and wish them the very best.”
The 6th IPA saw three African innovators rewarded for their efforts, out of 10 shortlisted nominees, from a total of over 2500 applications.
Egypt’s Aly El-Shafei won the grand prize for his technology that makes energy generating turbines more efficient, and took home US$100,000.
The second prize winner, Philippa NgajuMakobore of Uganda, who went home with US$25000, has a technology which accurately administers intravenous fluids and drugs by controlling the rate of fluid flow based on feedback from a drop sensor.
The third prize of US25,000, known as the Special Prize for Social Impact, went to Dougbeh-Chris Nyan of Liberia, who developed a rapid test mechanism that can detect and simultaneously differentiate at least three to seven infections at the same time.
Each one of the seven remaining shortlisted nominees also went home with US$5000 voucher to be used to further develop their innovations. Moreover, all nominees and winners will benefit from IPA post prize activities aiming at moving their innovations to the next level.