29 February 2012

Burkina Faso Agrees Research and Innovation Fund

Ouagadougou — The government of Burkina Faso has agreed to set up a fund dedicated to research and innovation, to enable researchers to help meet the country's development needs.

The decision to establish the National Fund of Scientific and Innovation Research for Development (NFSIRD) was made during a meeting of the council of ministers last month (15 January), in response to a proposal by science minister Gnissa Isaie Konaté.

According to Konaté, the fund will provide secure, durable finance for research and innovation activities.

"The main enemy of research is a lack of money," he told SciDev.Net. "When a country stops [its] research activities it [falls behind] and loses the benefits of all the advantages it stored up previously."

The fund will be hosted by Burkina Faso's science ministry and administered by a general manager, scientist Roger Honorat Charles Nebie.

"We will work at enhancing the value of innovation and technology research results," Nebie told SciDev.Net. He said the fund should raise the profile of government activities in support of research and innovation, and nurture high quality research.

He added that a steering committee supervised by the science minister will be set up to decide on a budget for the fund and an appropriate financing mechanism for it.

While awaiting the committee's conclusions, an amount of money - yet to be announced - will be allocated from the science ministry's budget to make the fund operational by April.

According to Konaté, Burkina Faso currently allocates less than one per cent of its gross domestic product (GDP) to scientific research.

Most of this money pays for salaries and maintaining the infrastructure of the country's National Centre of Scientific and Technological Research (NCSTR), rather than supporting actual research.

Currently scientists in Burkina Faso seeking financial support for their projects have to compete for international funds, according to Amadou Traoré, a researcher at the NCSTR.

This means that the research carried out may not "meet the priorities of the government nor the real needs of the population," he told SciDev.Net.

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