Editorial: Amend CSIR Act (521,1996) to make body more relevant

The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research Institute (CSIR) is calling for pragmatic amendments to its powers to make CSIR more relevant in solving modern challenges.

The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research Institute (CSIR) is calling for pragmatic amendments to its powers to make CSIR more relevant in solving modern challenges.

Providing details for the need to amend the law governing its operations, the Director of the CSIR Water Research Institute, Professor Mike Osei-Atweneboana, observed 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.

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 is seeking to amend the CSIR Act 521 of 1996 to enable it obtain 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 the thematic areas mentioned.

Prof. Osei-Atweneboana 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 for the Institute for Scientific and Technological Information to CSIR-Electronics, Communication and Information Research institute (CSIR-ECIRI).

The council believes the move will also provide Ghana the opportunity to utilise its resources efficiently, thereby avoiding wastage.

On the other hand, Dr. Kwaku Afriyie – Minister for Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation (ESTI), has urged the CSIR to commercialise some of its innovations and activities to raise revenue for the country.

He made the call during a tour of the Food Research Institute (FRI) and Institute for Industrial Research (IIR) of CSIR – however recognised that commercialising some activities of the CSIR might contravene some of the laws governing the institution.

He therefore said there is a need for legislative and policy amendments so that commercialisation can be possible.

He added that the food processing unit of the FRI, which produces products such as Neat Fufu, must commercialise their products so that research stays relevant to national development – rather than private entities taking up these innovations and enriching themselves.

The minister urged officials of CSIR and its institutes to market their innovations and promote them using science and data, so that Ghanaians will know there are institutes which are into all sorts of research and can help the country.

Government remains committed to making the vision of a technology and research-driven Ghana a reality, since scientific and data-driven analysis is very important for humankind and leads to progress in society.

Therefore, we do not anticipate any hitch in amending the CSIR Act 521 of 1996 to enable it obtain the full backing of law in order to be more relevant in solving modern challenges.

One major challenge that the CSIR faces is the Centre’s inability to make innovations of its scientists known to the public. Therefore, commercialising their innovations and research, as advocated by Dr. Afriyie, will enable more Ghanaians and the wider public to appreciate their contributions.

The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) is the country’s foremost national science and technology institution, mandated to carry out scientific and technological research for national development.

CSIR is meant to become the force for accelerated social and economic development of Ghana through examining, exploring and creating Science and Technology catalysts for public and private wealth creation.

It is for this reason that government has committed 1 percent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) toward research and development.

CSIR and its institutes have contributed to development of agriculture in the country, and this is evidenced by the several varieties of improved crops it has developed – which are not only high-yielding, but also disease and drought resistant and early-maturing.

About 90 percent of the varieties of maize planted on commercial basis in Ghana come from the laboratories and endeavours of CSIR and its institutes, particularly the FRI; and similar successes have been realised in the production of rice, sorghum and soya-bean.

FRI has also contributed significantly to improvement in household, traditional and commercial food processing, with innovations such as Banky Mix Powder, Cocoyam Fufu Flour, Fermented Maize Meal, Gari Mix, Mushroom Oyster Spawns, Rice Cereal Mix and Plantain Fufu Flour.

Hence, the importance of the CSIR to national development cannot be over-emphasised; and calls for its governing Act to be amended to make it more relevant in solving modern challenges is a step in the right direction.

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