Due to growing changes in science and technology across world, the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research Institute (CSIR) has called for pragmatic amendments to its powers to make the body more relevant in solving modern challenges.
According to the council, the move is needed to prepare the country to develop, pilot and evaluate emerging technological interventions designed to improve human and economic development.
The council says the move will also provide Ghana the opportunity to utilise its resources efficiently, thereby, avoiding wastage.
Providing details for the need for the amendment of the law governing its operations, the Director of the CSIR Water Research Institute, Prof. Mike Osei-Atweneboana, said the move will help address issues of food security, poverty reduction and climate change environment conservation.
“If you look all over the world there are new challenges confronting people. COVID-19 for example has taught us that we can’t continue to do the same things as usual to solve new challenges,” he said.
He stated that the time has come for Ghana to use new approaches in areas such as material science engineering, energy and petroleum, electronics and information communication technology as well as biomedical and public health.
“These areas are also in agreement with the development priorities of government and our development partners, hence, crafted to present research in the context of socio-economic development and sustainable resource utilisation”
Prof. Osei-Atweneboana explained that the council is seeking to amend the CSIR Act 521 of 1996 to enable it obtain the full backing of law to establish two institutes.
“In addition, the council is seeking to change the name of an existing institute to prosecute the agenda under these thematic areas mentioned earlier,” he explained.
He further stated that the council is seeking an amendment of the existing Act to include CSIR-Biomedical Pharmaceutical and Public Health Research Institute (CSIR-BPPHRI), CSIR Engineering Research and Development Center(ERDC) and the Change of name of the Institute for Scientific and Technological Information to CSIR-Electronics, Communication and Information Research institute (CSIR-ECIRI).
In a related development the Minister for Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation (ESTI), Dr Kwaku Afriyie has asked CSIR to look at commercialising innovations to increase revenue ,reports Osei Owusu AMANKWAAH ([email protected])
The Minister for Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation (ESTI), Dr Kwaku Afriyie has urged the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) to commercialise some of their innovations and activities to raise revenue for the country.
He said although the CSIR was originally set up to conduct studies but times have evolved and of some of the institutes of CSIR including: the Food Research Institute (FRI), the Building and Road Research Institute (BRRI), Crop Science Institute (CSI) and the Institute for Industrial Research (IIR) now have very great commercial value.
Dr Afriyie who said this during a tour of FRI and IIR however recognised that commercialising some activities of the CSIR might contravene some of the laws governing the institution and therefore there was the need for legislative and policy amendments so that commercialisation can be possible.
“So, of the departments in IIR like Metrology Department which develops innovation for weather forecasting and the Engineering Department which does repairs of medical and lab equipment among others have virtual monopoly and it would be wrong to tie them to only research,” he said.
He added that the food processing unit of the FRI which produced product such as Neat Fufu must commercialise their product so that research stays relevant to national development rather than private entities taking up these innovations and enriching themselves.
According to him, one major challenge that the CSIR face was the inability of the centre to make the innovations of its scientist know to the public.
“When scientists make a breakthrough, they are self-effacing but when an herbalist discovers something s/he would be everywhere trumpeting it; it is a fact that ethical issues prevent scientist from boosting but this is keeping a lot of information from the Ghanaian public especially about the possibilities of CSIR”, he said.
For instance, he said the Crop Science Institute (CSI) has manufacture inoculants that increase yield of farm produce, like soyabean, by 30 percent but not all farmers across the country and even the Ministry of Food and Agriculture were aware of it.
He, therefore urged officials CSIR and its institutes to market their innovations and promote them using science and data so that Ghanaians would know that there were institutes who were into all sorts of research who can help the country.
He hinted that another issue faced by the CSIR was the lack of linkages among the CSIR institutes and also between the institutes and other government agencies. For instance, he said CSIR institutes construct buildings using bricks form others source instead of using brick from the BRTI.
In addition, famers across the country, the Ministry of Food and Agriculture and the Ghana Cocoa Board need some input that the CSIR can readily produce, such as seed, seedlings and fertilizers but they are not aware of what the CRIS can do.
He said government remind committed to making the dream of a technology and research driven Ghana a reality; adding that scientific and data driven analysis was very important for all humankind and led to progress in society.