The CSIR-STEPRI has held its second Open Day this year. This annual event is being used by the institute as advocacy tool and communication strategy to raise awareness of its activities in the development, transfer, and utilization as well as the management of Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) for addressing societal needs, within the context of national development.
The event was held under the theme, ‘Strengthening Research, Policy and Industry Linkages: An Agenda for Enhanced National Development,’ to reflect the current call for stronger collaboration between key stakeholders for inclusive national development. The event was in two parts, the first session consisted of the opening ceremony, where dignitaries and other invited guests were given the opportunity to present their perspectives on the Open Day and the selected theme. The second session was mainly devoted to the technical activities, where scientific presentations of activities at CSIR-STEPRI were presented to the public. The questions and answers that followed were so enriching, and further provided opportunities for the strengthening the bond between policy makers, industrialist and the researchers.
The Chairman of the day was the Director-General of CSIR, Dr. Victor Agyeman. In his opening remarks, he touched on the aim of the Open Day and said the aim was important because it sought to bring industries closer to researchers in order for researchers to be responsive to the needs of industry and churn out useable technologies to help address some of the country’s development challenges. In his presentation, he reiterated the fact that CSIR has 13 Research Institutes. Out of these number six (6) are directly agriculture-related, three (3) institutes are manufacturing or industry-related, two (2) institutes are natural resources-related, whereas the last two (2) are knowledge-based. He added that CSIR–STEPRI is one of the small institutes of the CSIR; however, he is proud of the initiatives and achievements so far chalked. According to him. “A lot is happening in STEPRI and as a policy institute; STEPRI has contributed significantly to the socio-economic development of the country”.
In his address to Welcome the guests, the Director of CSIR-STEPRI, Dr. George O. Essegbey gave a brief overview of the Open Day and underscored why it is important for the Institute to open its doors to the general public. He further explained that, there may be some persons who do not know the mandates of STEPRI. An Open Day, therefore, serves as a frontier for them to come and learn through interaction. In addition, he said that this Open Day was to let the outside world appreciate the fruits of the partnerships STEPRI has with the donors and also thank all who funded the Institute’s programs. He acknowledged organisations which collaborated with the Institute and even those who helped the Institute to get data to enrich its field research. He also said that the occasion was an opportunity for self-examination in order to put the Institute on its toes and drive to a better new direction.
In her remarks, the Chief Director of MESTI and Guest of Honour, Madam Salamata Abdul-Salaam stated that, the multi- stakeholder engagements from the previous year’s Open Day event have created relevant research scope for STEPRI to explore. She mentioned that, based on the success of the previous event, STEPRI was hosting a second Open Day with the theme ‘Strengthening Research, Policy and Industry Linkages: An Agenda for Enhanced National Development’. She further said that the theme was anchored on the current call for stronger collaboration between key stakeholders for inclusive national development. Indeed, the choice of the theme was informed by the fact that most research outputs from research institutes have not been able to effectively penetrate the industrial sector. Furthermore, the theme also affirms the centrality for an effective research- policy- industry linkage and its importance in evidence-based policy-making and industrial growth.
Dr. Michael Agyekum Addo who was the Main Speaker for the day spoke on the topic: “Strategies for Effective Linkages among Research, Policy and Industry in Ghana” and focused it on the link between research institutes and the industries in Ghana.
According to Dr. Addo, in setting up any business, whether service or product, there are six (6) factors that one must consider. The least of these factors is money whilst the most important one is manpower. He further explained that here in Ghana, due to the nature of our educational systems, we have three (3) levels of manpower. That is: theory, certificate and unemployment instead of theory, certificate and employment. He added that this is because new graduates lack the needed skills to do the work assigned them. Thus, for these new graduates to be more productive, they should be well equipped with knowledge through training to get them abreast on and with the modern nature of work.
In his closing remarks, the Chairman noted that the Director for STEPRI said, “People have been complaining that we are in difficult times but as far as CSIR-STEPRI is concern, they have not been feeling the heat”. In fact, CSIR-STEPRI has been soaring like an eagle. “The Director again said that, the secret of their success is commitment and believe that CSIR-STEPRI can make a difference to the society”.
He also noted that the Chief Director from MESTI mentioned there is a challenge within our business sector in that most of the businesses are not patronizing research outputs and technologies and that this is the niche that research institutes should be able to fill. In other words, research needs to link up with industries and develop technologies that could effectively be incorporated into the business fabric of the society because the industries are action- (profit) oriented.
Finally, the Chairman also captioned the lessons from Dr. Michael Agyekum Addo as, “industries are worried because of the day to day increasing population of unexperienced graduates which he termed as baby graduate”. Therefore, there should be more training on to improve the human resource capacity in the country.
The Chairman concluded that, CSIR-STEPRI needs to make a lot of noise about the products and outputs they offer because it pays to be visible.