The week-long conference on the theme: śHarnessing our Natural Resources for National Development: The Role of Science and Technologyť, would also help strengthen the linkages between science and industry and challenge scientists to conduct more research into ways of addressing environmental degradation of host communities, including mining areas.
Participants included representatives of non-governmental organisations, civil society organisations, ministries, departments and agencies and mining companies and all stakeholders in the mining and extraction industry as well as academia.
Professor Ernest Aryeetey, Vice Chancellor of the University of Ghana, said although science and technology played an indispensable role in enhancing natural resources, Ghana had over the years failed to pay much attention to this fact, which had resulted in the lack of value addition to most of her numerous natural resources.
He mentioned natural resources such as cocoa, timber, gold, bauxite, manganese, diamonds, salt and limestone, rubber as well as fish, hydropower, solar energy and petroleum among the wide range of natural endowments, which have failed to bring the expected financial relief to Ghanaians after years of exploitation.
The Vice Chancellor indicated that the only way to make any meaningful headway was to promote the understanding of science and technology among policy makers so that they could formulate sustainable and empirically-based policies for the socio-economic development of the country, using the revenues accrued from the exploitation of the country™s natural resources.
He said by applying science and technology it was obvious that value would be added to the traditional natural and raw materials that were hitherto exported for meagre foreign exchange and bring about value addition and enhanced revenue for national development.
He advocated for an urgent formulation of an industrial policy that would provide a clear signal to the private sector regarding government™s commitment and determination to adopt science and technology as the driving force to enhancing the value of Ghana™s natural resources for sustained economic growth, job creation and development.
According to him, there were other broad range of environmental services that could also be harnessed for economic benefit, but these must be well packaged for both domestic and international markets.
Prof. Aryeetey stressed that transforming Ghana™s economy would therefore depend on how revenue accrued from the sale of these natural resources were used to ensure sustainable economic growth and development, high standards of living and a prosperous new future if science and technology was applied.
He commended the Association for its initiative over the years in discussing diverse topics of national importance and said the University was poised to improve upon its human resource training by stressing on quality research and applied science and technology that provided solutions to socio-economic challenges of modern times.
Prof. Daniel Obeng-Ofori, President, Ghana Science Association, said the conference would create a forum for sharing of ideas among stakeholders on international best practices in packaging natural resources and identifying the challenges facing implementation of policies to improve value addition to the country™s natural resources as a strategy for poverty reduction.
It would challenge scientists and technologists to design and develop cost effective, but efficient technologies for the processing of Ghana™s natural resources and encourage policy makers and stakeholders to embrace diversification as a means of avoiding over-dependence on natural resource and ensure a broad based development.