Dr George Owusu Essegbey, Director of the Science and Technology Policy Institute (STEPRI) of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), says launch of Ghansat-1 provides a good opportunity for capabilities in space science.
Welcoming the launch of Ghana’s first satellite (Ghansat-1) into orbit a few weeks ago by students of the All Nations University in Koforidua, Dr Essegbey told the GNA: “Gradually, space science technology has become so important that all countries, irrespective of their level of development and leverage, will have to engage in that.“
“So, for a country like Ghana, it is good that we have started the process to have our own satellite. We have to build our capabilities in all aspects of the technology, including the development and application of satellite technology.”
Dr Essegbey listed some specific areas of application of the satellite technology in areas like telecommunications, broadcasting and meteorological surveillance and saying it is important for Ghana to create its indigenous capacity in space science technology.
“The accumulation of knowledge in any aspects of science demands that we continue to also enhance existing knowledge in the institutions such as the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology,” he said.
He also said it was necessary to train the country’s human resource, particularly at the tertiary level, as well as among primary and junior and senior high school students to engage the technology and apply it to national development.
“What All Nations University has done is to try to have a stream of students who will continuously be interested in contributing to national capacity in space science technology,” he said.
He, however, bemoaned the low funding accorded science and technology research in the country’s tertiary institutions, saying though the Ghana government paid the salaries of CSIR staff and those of other tertiary institutions, they lack the requisite funding for research activities.
“Government pays the salaries of all members of staff of the CSIR; what is lacking is the fund for operations,” he said.
He explained that the institutions now looked up to donors and collaborating agencies for the necessary support to fund research.
While accepting donor assistance, Dr Essegbey insisted this was not in the nation’s interest because foreign donors could end up taking total or partial control of ownership of the research projects.
He therefore called for sufficient financial resources from government for research, adding that the institutions would continue doing what they had been doing.
He expressed his appreciation to the Ministry of Environment, Science and Technology for setting up a Science and Technology Research Fund to encourage research in tertiary institutions.
“The more people have to appreciate what scientific institutions are doing to contribute to national development, the more mindsets will change; we will do our part,” he stated.
Dr Essegbey lauded China for offering scholarships and study opportunities to Ghanaian scientists and other professionals, particularly in climate change, and medicine, among other disciplines.