Bad blood between policymakers and scientists stifling Africa’s’ use of STI

 

By Adlyne Wangusi

 

There is a bad relationship between researchers and policymakers in Africa, a fact that has stifled the contribution science, technology and innovation to policy development on the continent.

Speaking during the annual Regional Centre for Mapping of Resources for Development (RCMRD) conference, Dr Nicholas Ozor who is the executive director of Africa Technology Policy Studies Network (ATPS) said most researchers have poor skills and attitude while carrying out their research. He added that a number of them are arrogant, naïve, lack mentors, are isolated, overwhelmed by teachings, lack good communications skills with policymakers and they also lack influence.

On other hand, participants said policymakers look down on research and neither take scientific work seriously nor making it “a priority” to development.  They said there is a lack of knowledge in integrating policy thus leading to doubts.

This explains why the African Union (AU) members still make a small investment of less than 1% to research despite commitments to increase it every other year.

Most African countries are still lagging behind to invest in research and development. According to the research done and released by UNESCO in 2015, Kenya is the leading country in East Africa in research development but only invests 0.79% of its GDP to research. It is followed by Ethiopia which invests 0.61%. Foreign nations contribute a sizeable share.

In order to change and strengthen research for development in Africa, the participants said there is a need to enhance collaboration with relevant stakeholders. They suggested that universities and research organisations on the continent should acquire reputation in a particular field of expertise and work on that given field.

Africa has had a shortage in human development over a period of time now. With continued reliance on foreign aid in the short term goals, Africa has failed to boost the number of researchers. Thus low level of scientific output. “African should take STI seriously as part of development agenda,” they said.

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