By Godwill Arthur-Mensah/Jonas Danquah, GNA
Accra, July 17, GNA - Government will invest one per cent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in science, technology and innovation, Professor Kwabena Frimpong-Boateng, the Minister of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation (MESTI), has said.
He said the Government was scaling up efforts to invest in science and technology infrastructure to enable Ghanaian innovators to achieve the skills they so much cherished.
“Our President has promised to put science and technology at the centre of his government and will, therefore, devote one per cent of the GDP into research and development,” Prof. Frimpong-Boateng.
He said the Ministry would establish a Presidential Advisory Council on Science, Technology and Innovation (STI), draft a bill on STI Policy as well as set up STI Fund to support research and development.
Prof. Frimpong-Boateng said this at the opening of the 2017 Innovation Prize for Africa (IPA) competition in Accra on Monday.
The competition, which is the sixth edition, is on the theme: “African Innovation: Investing in Prosperity.”
It brought together various stakeholders including innovators, entrepreneurs, investors, leaders of innovation hubs and technology parks, policy-makers as well as cutting-edge African training institutions.
The event is being organised by the African Innovation Foundation (AIF), in partnership with MESTI, Ghana Investment Promotion Centre and the Ghana at 60 Secretariat.
The AIF, over the past five years, had been playing active role in supporting the development of African innovation ecosystems through ongoing collaborative programmes and strategic partnerships with governments and innovation influencers across the continent.
Prof. Frimpong-Boateng said Ghana was determined to creating opportunities for economic growth and prosperity through science and innovation.
In the quest to build a solid science and technology infrastructure, he said the Ministry had established technical committees that would assist in establishing STI centres to support innovators to transform their ideas into industrial products.
“It is up to us as Africans to drive African innovation forward and create long lasting prosperity for the continent,” he said, adding; “Africans are capable of world class innovation”.
Prof. Frimpong-Boateng said the Ministry had established an incubation centre at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research to provide facilities that the technology innovators needed in order to scale-up and make practical their innovations.
The technologies were in various forms such as energy production, transportation, agriculture, road construction and waste management as well as security for both domestic and industrial purposes and cyber security.
The Minister noted that those innovations that proved to be of industrial potential would be supported to scale-up and commercialised to benefit the larger segment of the society.
He said the event was an important avenue for Ghanaian innovators and entrepreneurs to forge partnerships with regional innovation leaders and expand the country’s innovation foot print.
“The platform will provide an opportunity for companies to forge important partnerships, synergies and collaborations with innovation enablers across the continent to strengthen Africa’s innovation investment climate,” he said.
Prof. Frimpong-Boateng said it would provide an opportunity for Ghana to showcase some of her innovative projects and strengthen the innovation ecosystems.
The IPA aims at recognising Africans with innovative ideas that would enhance the lives of the people.
There are 10 finalists out of more than 2,000 applicants who entered this year’s competition.
They comprised Peris Bosire, Kenya, Nokwethu Khojane, South Africa, Omolabake Adenle, Nigeria, Nzola Swasisa, Democratic Republic of Congo and Badr Idriss from Morocco.
The rest are Aly El-Shafei, Egypt, Dr Dougbeh-Chris Nyan, Liberia, Olanisun Olufemi Adewole, Nigeria, Gift Gana, Zimbabwe and Philippa Ngaju Makobore from Uganda
The overall winner would receive US$100,000, the first runner-up would take home US$25,000 and a special prize of US$25,000 would be given to the nominee with project on social impact while each nominee would take home US$5,000.
Mr Jean-Claude Bastos De Morais, the Founder of the AIF, commended the Government for planning to invest one per cent of the GDP into science and innovation and expressed belief that it would positively change the African innovation market place for good.
He said the Foundation was determined to shape and unlock African innovation potentials for the prosperity of the continent.
Mr De Morais said the Foundation instituted the Innovation Prize for Africa to create and unearth the African innovation spirit and reward excellent work.
So far, he said, the Foundation had created a database of 7,500 innovations from 52 African countries and that, this year alone, it received 2,530 innovations from 48 countries in Africa.
The competition had been successful in Ethiopia (2012), South Africa (2013), Nigeria (2014), Morocco (2015) and Botswana (2016).