Union (AU) and the Economic Community of West African States in 1980, under the Lagos Plan of Action, the Cairo Declaration of the first African Ministerial Conference on Science and Technology (AMCOST) and the Science, Technology and Innovation Strategy for Africa 2024 (STISA 2014), have all prescribed that, we allocate at least 1 per cent of GDP to STI research and development. Currently, funding in Ghana is about 0.35 per cent of
Mr Speaker, with this meagre funding, it is not surprising that we have not been able to fully employ S&T to support and indeed, accelerate our development compared to Korea, China and Malaysia, for example. For instance, whereas Korea and Malaysia spend between 2.8 per cent and 4.2 per cent of GDP on R&D respectively, Ghana spends a meagre 0.38 per cent (about a tenth of Korea's expenditure) on R&D.
In order to address the shortfall in funding for STI, the 2010 National STI Policy has proposed the allocation of 2 per cent of the country's GDP towards investment in science and technology. The 2010 STI Policy has further elicited the support and contribution of the private sector towards the establishment of the Science, Research and Technology Fund
The Fund was aimed at developing the capacity in areas such as engineering design and production technology to help foster a national innovation system.
Mr Speaker, this Government has made a manifesto pledge of increasing budgetary allocation to the S&T sector to at least, 1.5 per cent of GDP over the next four years, and, will strongly urge the Government to pursue this and further
develop a clear monitoring framework to assess the social, economic and environmental impact to justify the budget allocation.
In addition, Mr Speaker, I would like to urge the Government, the private sector and donors to contribute to enrich the Research Endowment Fund, which I understand has a total funding level of only 2.5 million Ghana cedis.
Education in S&T
Mr Speaker, increasingly, it seems that interest in science education is dwindling contrary to expectations, given the pace at which scientific research and technological development is advancing globally. A study conducted in 2002 also showed that “enrolment in bachelor of arts and management programmes as a percentage of total enrolment in the universities has been above 65 per cent and is increasing, while courses in medicine, engineering and other sciences keep declining (UNCTAD, 2011).
In 2013, students on programmes in the humanities constituted 64 per cent, against 36 per cent in the sciences in Ghana and, in fact, students pursuing graduate programmes in the sciences constituted 22 per cent of total graduate student popuIation.
Mr Speaker, it is important to reverse this trend if we can promote science, technology and innovation to support national development. In this regard, the Ministry of Education in collaboration with the Ministry of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation should work out and implement a plan to achieve the Government's plan of achieving a 60:40 student ratio for the sciences as compared to the humanities.
Mr Speaker, the time has come for the collaboration between the universities and research institutions such as the
Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and others to be cemented.
As we speak, Mr Speaker, there are perhaps thousands of research reports, equipment and industrial process designs and post-graduate theses and techno- logies scattered all around; locked up on the shelves of libraries and in the reports of scientists and consultants. The time to bring all these out in a more coordinated manner to synthesise the information and technologies in order to strengthen our knowledge base for a smooth take off into our desired new era of scientific innovation is now.
Mr Speaker, it would be very useful to the public to have a one-stop centre where people can access available technologies developed. For example, how can the CSIR Technology Development and Transfer Centre (CSIR- TDTC) be strengthened to coordinate and promote the adoption of specific technologies is a key question that must occupy the thoughts of Government.
Mr Speaker, all these would require an effective institutional coordination and governance, and this is why I would call on the Government to expedite action on the establishment of a Presidential Advisory Council for S&T.
Mr Speaker, Government must keep faith with its commitment to make S&T begin to play its central role. Mr Speaker, I believe the appointment of a pragmatic scientist and technologist, in the person of Prof. Kwabena Frimpong Boateng to lead this agenda as the Minister for Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation is commendable.
I further urge our Colleagues in this august House, who would be privileged to serve on the ECOWAS Parliament to be lead advocates for member countries to take practical steps towards their
commitment under the Lagos Plan of Action, especially as collaboration for scientific research and technological development within the sub-region is one of the main focal areas of the ECOWAS Parliament.
In conclusion, Mr Speaker, as we have usually risen to the occasion, I trust that Ghana, at the age of 60, would once again lead the sub-region into a new era where scientific research, technology develop- ment and innovation will play a central role in Africa's development efforts. In particular, development of technologies that support mitigation of climate change, food security and industrial equipment and processes are key to our economic transformation agenda.
I thank you, Mr Speaker, for the opportunity to make this maiden Statement.