The Government of Ghana has set itself an ambitious goal: to transform Ghana from a low- to a middle income country. To date the role of STI in Ghana’s development has been limited and the STI system of Ghana does not perform to a same standard as those of middle-income countries, such as India and South Africa.
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According to the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Index, Ghana ranks 112th on technological readiness, 115th on innovation, 98th on business sophistication, and 108th on higher education and training. These relative positions are not particularly out of line for a country at a Ghana’s stage of development. In order to transform itself from what the World Economic Forum calls a “factor-driven” economy into an “innovation-driven” economy, Ghana needs to begin to deliver in critical areas related to productivity and competitiveness, which requires effective application of science, technology and innovation in the economy.
Following this analysis and in order to reduce poverty, Ghana’s government has placed developing STI high on its political agenda. This is reflected in various political and policy statements of the Government, including Vision 2020, the Growth and Poverty Reduction Strategy II (GPRS II) and the medium-term development plan. For example, the GPRS II argues that increasing absorption and application of science and technology is a critical factor for growth. The medium-term development plan, prepared by the National Development Planning Commission of Ghana, envisages Ghana to be a “modern economy based on the development of science and technology” by 2020.
These intentions have not yet been translated into concrete programmes and actions, and Ghana still needs to find adequate mechanisms to fund innovation, technological development and research. In spite of that, Ghana already has many of the individual components necessary for an efficient and effective STI system in place. It has a dense network of research and development institutes, universities and polytechnics, and technology support and regulatory agencies as well as a relatively strong educational system and growing private sector. Furthermore, the national policy framework on science, technology and innovation was updated in 2010 (the National Science, Technology and Innovation Policy 2010) and the National Development Planning Commission has recently integrated STI policy into its national development plan. (UNCTAD 2011)
Ghana’s National Science and Technology Policy Strategy (GPRS I) (2000) was revised in 2010. The new National Science, Technology and Innovation Policy, pursues a vision of achieving a middle-income country status based on STI application, adoption and development. The key objectives of the policy are:
- to provide the framework for inter-institutional efforts in developing STI programmes in all sectors of the economy to provide the basic needs of the society;
- to create the conditions for the improvement of scientific and technological infrastructure for research and development and innovation;
- to ensure that STI supports Ghana’s trade and export drive for greater competitiveness; and
- to promote a science and technology culture.
The principal thrust of the national science, technology and innovation policy is that STI will be the driver for the achievement of sectoral goals, objectives and programmes across all ministries, departments and agencies involved in economic and social development.
Weak institutional capacity – particularly within the MOESS – has been seen to have hindered the policy implementation, and that there has not been enough political will and administrative capacity to pursue the goals of the National Science and Technology Policy. As a response, the Government of Ghana has made an effort to reform its policies for science, technology and innovation and been successful in some areas. Ghana has for example modernised the intellectual property legislation and met most of WTO’s requirements (WTO, 2007). Its policies and legislation for attracting and regulating FDI are up to date (World Bank, 2005). (UNCTAD 2011).
The institutional set-up for S&T policy planning and delivery has been under continuous flux and inertia. Since 2001, the responsibilities for coordinating science and technology (including overall policymaking) have moved from the Ministry of Education, Science and Sports (MOESS) up untill 2009 after which the Ministry of Environment, Science and Technology (MEST) has been the institution responsible for formulating policies for scientific research and technology development.
There are a number of other key ministries and public institutions that play a prominent role in science and technology policy. These include the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MOTI), the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning (MOFEP), the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, and the National Development Planning Commission. The National Development Planning Commission is an advisory body, responsible for Ghana Vision 2020 and for policy initiatives such as the poverty reduction strategies. It has a mandate to advise the President on the development of a planning policy and strategy and therefore plays a major role in the formulation of innovation policy. In addition, a Parliamentary Committee on Environment, Science and Technology has a mandate to monitor and implement research and innovation programmes. The Committee however lacks sufficient research support to be able to ensure that science, technology and innovation issues receive enough attention in the proceedings of the Parliament.
On an operational level, the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and its Science and Technology Policy Research Institute (STEPRI) play a major role in R&D policy implementation. Established in 1968, the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) is the largest and oldest public R&D institution in Ghana. The CSIR coordinates scientific research in the country and aims to encourage and promote commercialization of research results. The CSIR has 13 research institutes covering agricultural, industrial, natural resources and policy research areas. STEPRI, on the other hand, undertakes science and technology studies, facilitates commercialization of technological innovations, conducts innovation studies with an emphasis on biotechnology and ICT and assesses and monitors the implementation of STI policies.
The Ghana Academy of Arts and Sciences is another key institution whose work pertains to science, technology and innovation policy. The Academy brings together many leading Ghanaian academics aiming to promote the pursuit, advancement and dissemination of knowledge in all fields of sciences and the humanities. The Academy has been a source of scientific advice to the Government and particularly the Presidency on a wide range of policy issues such as biosafety, biotechnology, climate change, and biodiversity conservation. Other national public R&D institutions, playing an important role in Ghana’s national system of innovation are the Cocoa Research Institute of Ghana (CRIG), the Ghana Regional Appropriate Technology Industrial Service (GRATIS) Foundation, the Ghana Atomic Energy Commission (GAEC), the Ghana Institute of Clinical Genetics, and the Centre for Scientific Research into Plant Medicine (CSRPM).
Ghana’s institutions for technology development and support include the Ghana Standards Authority (GSA), the Food and Drugs Authority (FDA), and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The Ghana Investment Promotion Centre (GIPC) is another key player in promoting technology development and innovation activities. It is responsible for coordinating and monitoring all investment activities.
Indeed, Ghana’s institutional landscape is quantitatively rich. At the same time, the links between the institutions (and within them) are weak. Given the high number of actors and somewhat fragmented institutional landscape, a key challenge is to improve coordination across the entire STI system. With the reestablishment of the Ministry of Environment, Science and Technology in 2009, there is now a clear locus for STI policymaking, and it provides an opportunity for better coordination (UNCTAD 2011).
Although there is no reliable up-to-date data on public expenditure on R&D, most estimates indicate that the country spends around 0.3 per cent of its GDP on R&D – nearly all of which comes from the government outlays equivalent to 1.1 percent of the budget. The Government has annual budgetary allocations for MOE, MEST, and other line ministries. This amounts to at least 70 per cent of the funding for public R&D institutions.
Private-sector funding for R&D in Ghana is relatively small. It is estimated that the private sector accounts for only 2 percent of the total funding for R&D in Ghana. Some of the public R&D institutions rely on grants from international donors in order to conduct R&D activities. Often such activities are project-based or project-oriented and the funding is short-term in nature.
In mid-2008, the Government of Ghana established a national Science and Technology Research Endowment Fund (STREFund), with initial capital base of approximately USD500,000. This Fund is supposed to operate as an independent funding mechanism with aim to leverage private capital. In order to increase the leverage, private companies contributing in to the fund are entitled to a tax incentive package.(UNCTAD 2011)
Source: African Innovation Outlook (NEPAD, 2011)