The Inquirer (Monrovia)

27 May 2014

Liberia: Postal Affairs Boss Proposes Science & Tech. Ministry

Post & Telecommunications' Minister, Dr. Fredrick Norkeh, has proposed the establishment of a Ministry of Research, Science and Technology exclusively dedicated for the development of those areas.

Making a presentation on Pillar II of the Common Africa Position (CAP) on the Post 2015 Development Agenda the National Outreach on the CAP under the theme, "The Role of the Private Sector, Civil Society Organizations, Academia and the Media in the post 2015 Agenda", Dr. Norkeh said policies on Science and Technology need to be harmonized across the continents.

The Liberian Postmaster noted that an adequate National Budgetary support is required along with public awareness about the benefits of science and technology to the continent. He added that science and technology programs should be subject to regional and international accreditation and that a percentage from concessional agreement be applied to facilitate industrialization.

Dr. Norkeh stressed that development partners need to make the development of science and technology in relation to the Common African Position on this matter a precondition for aids. "Literacy around the world is well understood to be critical, but scientific education must take center stage since the many problems we face will require science and technological solutions," he emphasized.

According to Dr. Norkeh the establishment of Physical infrastructure to enhance Liberia's ability to deliver on development projects is key to the situation. "The platform that drives development is infrastructure such as rail network, energy, ICT amongst others," he noted.

Dr. Norkeh said considering the cost in developing infrastructure and building capacity, African governments need to commit to the development of science and technology through a national initiative; perhaps the national budget for financing of key STI projects/programs.

"Capacity building is also important in our drive to meet projected targets of development. Manpower training in Science and Technology should be a must in the educational system. Otherwise, Africa will remain depended on inventions and productions from the west which promote dependency," he emphasized.

He said policies that set clear vision and articulate thorough roadmaps with defined strategy to boost science, technology and innovation in Africa are compelling necessities. "Member states must translate the policy objectives into their domestic laws with a clear time line for implementation. To ensure that outcomes of policies on the development of science, technology and innovation are achieved, there must be a set standard that must be met byall countries in Africa," he stated.

Norkeh said Africans themselves should agree to the fact that the world today is depicted by advancement in science, technology and innovation; adding, "The sooner we discover, the easier it will be to invest in STI advancement in Africa."

"What needs to be done to accelerate development of STI in Africa (Strategic activities to accelerate excellence in Science, Technology and Innovation), African leaders need to commit to investment in Science, Technology and Innovation," he intimated.

He added that the provision of incentives to promote research and development must be considered. "Scholastic research to seek invention and innovation must be given serious consideration by African countries. Governance should be aligned with Science, Technology and Innovation for global competitiveness; the protection of intellectual and patent rights for inventors or their innovation must be prioritized and enforced," Norkeh said.

He continued that the establishments of national, regional and continental awards are critical for exceptional contribution to a successful breakthrough projects in the sector of science, technology and innovation in Africa.

On the strategies to achieving growth in STI, Dr. Norkeh proposed the connection of every region in a country with the appropriate technology such as fiber optic cable; ensure universal access to telecommunications through the construction of Community Information Centers equipped with the appropriate technology to facilitate access and usage; invest in IT infrastructure that will help to raise the living standard of people in rural communities; connect every neighboring country with the appropriate technology; such as fiber optic cable and rail links; tackling the manufacturing sector, among others.

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