Minister bemoans neglect of CSIR research findings
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By: DANIEL K. KENU
The Minister of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation, Professor Kwabena Frimpong Boateng, has said part of the reason for Ghana's slow pace of development after 60 years of independence is the neglect of research findings and innovations.
He said the findings and technological breakthroughs of the 13 institutions of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) had been neglected and were bought cheaply by foreign companies, particularly those in Europe and other developed nations.
He said the discoveries were then redesigned, rebranded and sold back to the country.
Prof. Boateng said this during a two-day tour of some agencies of the CSIR in the Ashanti Region.
He was dismayed to find that many research outputs and products developed by the Building and Road Research Institute (BRRI), the Forestry Research Institute of Ghana (FORIG) and the Soil Research Institute (SRI) had been ignored by successive governments.
Prof. Frimpong-Boateng said he would hold discussions with some sector ministers, particularly roads, to find out ways in which research outcomes regarding bitumen and asphalt technology by BRRI could be employed in road construction works in the country.
He said he would also campaign for the use of pozzolana cement designed by BRRI to be used in all government building projects, considering that it was weather resistant.
The minister said it was shameful for the government to train and pay over 600 research scientists and yet decide not to make use of either their expertise or findings.
The difference between Ghana and countries such as South Korea and Singapore which had independence around the same time as Ghana did, was that they made use of their local scientists, Prof Frimpong-Boateng said.
Bitumen, asphalt technology centre
Currently, the BRRI needs about $250,000 to establish a modern bitumen and asphalt technology centre.
So far, the institute has been able to mobilise $80,000 for the purchase of equipment and will require private partnership to raise the extra amount.
The minister charged the Chief Director of the Ministry of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation to endeavour to raise $50,000 to support the BRRI to pay off a $200,000 pozzolana factory it purchased from PMC California.
The pozzolana technology and a factory put up by the BRRI was sold to the foreign company but the institute had to repurchase it after PMC decided to leave the country.
The Director of BRRI, Dr Eugene Atiemo, said previous governments had failed to award contracts to the institute and even when they did, pay for work done became a challenge.
The Director at FORIG, Dr Daniel A. Ofori, also shared similar frustrations of BRRI.
He announced that the institute had designed a concept, which was compatible with the government's policy of building a dam in every village in the north.
Dr Ofori said FORIG had also manufactured many products, including bottled biopesticides, biofuel and sola drier using by-products of forest resources.