Science and technology key to growth

Business News of Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Source: B&FT

Prof Ellis

The Vice Chancellor of the of Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), Professor W. Otoo Ellis, has bemoaned the meager use of the scientific and technological labour-force in addressing the numerous economic challenges bedevilling the nation.

Speaking at a research conference organised by the Kumasi branch of Ghana Science Association (GSA) and the KNUST College of Science, he stated that the development of any nation requires the essential contribution of its scientists and technologists. However, the deficit in number of indigenous practitioners during the early days of Africa’s decolonisation led to importation of a foreign scientific and technological workforce at very high cost — which among other things contributed to the non-sustainable industrialisation of many countries in Africa and requires immediate attention.

It was in line with this that he commended organisers of the event for choosing the theme ”Harnessing Indigenous Scientific and Technological Knowledge for Development” for this year’s conference.

He revealed that despite the abundant supply of scientific and technological experts to support industrialisation, the industry contributes just 27.4% of Ghana’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), according to the CIA World Factbook report; thus a substantial scientific and technological labour force is excluded from production.

”This unemployed scientific and technical labour in Ghana, a country crawling through myriads of problems including but not limited to health, nutrition, environment and transportation, must be committed to production,” he stressed.

He cited China and India, two countries with the fastest economic growth rates, as owing their achievements to the abundant supply of technical expertise — especially in the area of manufacturing; whereas Ghana, with all its resourceful and vibrant talent trails behind in this respect due to the inability to harness these resources for production.

Professor Ellis acknowledged the collaboration of KNUST over the years with the GSA, and the efforts of their Executive members — especially in the area of disseminating scientific information. He also used the platform to call on the media to play a key role in advancing the country’s development through science and technology.

The Ghana Science Association, which becomes 58-years old this year, was established as a voluntary and non-profit making association of scientists and technologists. It aims to encourage, promote and popularise science and technology in Ghana, and additionally promote the understanding of all its aspects while encouraging the use of a scientific approach in everyday life.

Another important objective of GSA is that it also seeks the welfare of scientists and technologists in the country. Dr. Peter Twumase, President of GSA, Kumasi branch, emphasised that Ghana has no excuse to miss the second wave of African industrial revolution necessary to solve many of its current challenges, particularly considering the rising level of scientific and technological knowledge in the country.

He lamented the situation wherein many talented students move into business and humanity degree programmes where they believe they stand a better chance of finding employment after graduation. “Even science graduates are getting retrained as business managers. The situation is worrisome. The trend cannot be reversed without corresponding creation of scientific and technological job opportunities on the market,” he said.