Ivorian researchers and government unite to fortify R&D

Researchers needs more funds and better management structures, say experts Copyright: Flickr/Nestlé

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[ABIDJAN] Côte d’Ivoire’s Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research and various Ivorian research institutes have unveiled a policy document supporting the implementation of research programmes in the country.

Together they aim to energise Ivorian research and invigorate its more effective engagement with the population’s development needs.

The document, entitled ‘Document supporting the implementation of research programmes in Côte dIvoire, was formally adopted during a seminar hosted by the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research, in Grand-Bassam, southern Côte dIvoire, last month (21–24 August).

The seminar was attended by ministry staff, the presidents of Côte dIvoires public universities, representatives from the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research, and national and international experts.

According to Katy-Coulibaly Séraphin, director-general of research at the ministry, the document has been extensively discussed, leading to the agreement to and adoption of the text.

"It’s a question of combining different enterprises, training centres, and public or private university departments, […] to create synergy around common, innovative projects," Séraphin told SciDev.Net.

Séraphin added that he believes it is important that Ivorian research reaches an international audience.

The document also recommends substantially increasing state financing for research to one per cent of GDP (gross domestic product). Currently, according to the Strategic Support Program to Scientific Research in Côte d’Ivoire (PASRES), this figure is less than 0.5 per cent.

"Since the 1980 Lagos plan [the Organisation of African Unity’s Lagos Plan of Action for the Economic Development of Africa], African countries have been constantly advised to allocate at least one per cent of their gross domestic product (GDP) to development research," Yaya Sangaré, executive secretary at PASRES, told SciDev.Net at the end of the workshop.

The reference document also outlines plans for creating think tanks to act as catalysts for the implementation of new innovations, said Sangaré.

"This must be done in partnership with the private sector so that technological inventions will not remain unused," said Evelyne Gossan, a researcher at the Université Félix Houphouët-Boigny, in Abidjan, at the end of the workshop.

Arona Diedhiou, a researcher at the Institute of Research for Development, headquartered in France, said that he appreciates Côte d’Ivoire’s adoption of the strategy document.  

He insisted, above all, on "the necessity for research centres to have at their disposal consistent funds and an efficient management to support national research programmes".