Scholars: Squeezed funding on science affecting innovations in Africa

Educationists have pointed out that African countries spend less money on their national budgets to fund research and science developments.

The academia made the sentiments at the three-day Germany Academic Exchange Services (DAAD) alumni conference dubbed Young Scholars in Africa – Challenges and Opportunities.

“The one area where African science has not turned the tide is government expenditure on research and development. African countries spend less than 0.5percent of their gross domestic product on research and development,” said Prof. Johann Mouton.

Prof Mouton is the Director of the Centre for Research on Evaluation, Science and Technology (CREST) at Stellenbosch University in South Africa.

DAAD President Prof Margaret Wintermantel said the continent needed to draw a road map towards overcoming the challenges which young African scholars are facing and unleash their full potential.

“Lack of research funding by African governments means lack of training opportunities to develop professional and soft skills and that’s why we see few post-doctoral degrees in scientific careers from Africa,” she said.

The conference was attended by 150 participants from 23 African countries and Europe --most of them former recipients of DAAD scholarships.

Few science scholars

Statistics show that Africa produces an alarmingly few number of junior scientists and scholars against a desire by the continent to improve the figures.

Such findings were for example published in various journals such as ‘Global State of Young Scientists’ by Global Young Academy and ‘Building PhD capacity in Sub-Saharan Africa’ by ANIE in 2018.

Chairman of the Commission for University Education (CUE) Prof Chacha Nyaigotti notes that there is a need to foster several initiatives and development of innovative funding models to change the current situation.

“There is also need for increased communication and collaboration between universities and industry - stepping out of silos and working with government, international partners and universities, both regionally and locally,” he said.

The Assistant Director of Education in the Ministry of Education, Charles Obiero has, however, defended the government, saying they are exploring ways of addressing structures that hinder the growth of early career.

“We are also looking for more training, mentoring and quality supervision, provide seed funding to students to continue with research after their PhD and translating research work into publishable work in recognized journals,” said Obiero.

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Science fundingGermany Academic Exchange ServicesScience