20 March 2018

Africa: Scientists Link Brain Drain to Paucity of Research Funds

Scientists have identified paucity of research funds as one of the most critical factors responsible for brain drain in Africa.

They made this known at a stakeholders' workshop with the theme, "Shaping the future of researchers in developing countries" organized by the Nigeria Academy of Science (NAS) and the International Council for Science (ICS) in Abuja.

Speaking exclusively to LEADERSHIP, NAS president, Prof. Mosto Onuoha, said researchers and scientists could not come up with effective research results, inventions and innovations to benefit society and mankind because of paucity of funds.

"Researchers and scientists are restricted by finance, it is only in Nigeria that people are doing masters and Ph.Ds. from their pockets and because there's no money so we're not doing very good projects, projects from higher institutions rarely translate into something that solve our problems. There's a limitation on the person working because of finance. Many of them can do a lot more, dig deeper but they are restricted by finance," he said.

He urged the Federal Government to make funds available for science research through the National Research and innovation Fund (NRIF) as it is done in developed nations who have made headway in science and technology.

Onuoha said, "If you look at Harvard, Yale or Stanford, MIT, their research budget is greater than many state governments, even almost all put together. And that's why they're able to bring out what they do. So, the federal government has a key role to play, they have to make resources available.

"Those who will administer it will identify areas of priority because we can't tackle everything at the same time. If it is water, sanitation or agriculture we put money there and we'll get the results because there are Nigerians willing to work. The government already knows about the NRIF, the process is on, it's just to make it real, stop all the long delays," he added.

Similarly, the past president of NAS, Prof. Oye Ibidapo-Obe, noted that NRIF bill is awaiting presidential assent to become effective, pointing out that the main issue lay in making the fund work for the nation through effective implementation.

Earlier in his presentation entitled "Responsibility in science everywhere", the chairman of committee on freedom and responsibility in the conduct of science at the ICS, Leiv Sydnes, said science has a tremendous value in its own right, adding the value and importance of research for the human society is undisputable.

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