October 25, 2018—Uganda is among the countries that spends the least on research as a ratio of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
Dr. Gertrude Ngabirano, Executive Secretary of the East African Commission for Science and Technology said this week, Uganda only commits 0.58 percent of its GDP towards research. This is lower than the continental agreement of one percent of the GDP. In East Africa, Kenya has the highest funding for research, committing 2 percent.
“There is a direct correlation between research funding and development. Countries that contribute the least to scientific research are the least developed. Uganda needs to improve. This can be done by involving the private sector at a higher level,” Ngabirano said.
She was speaking at the Uganda Dialogue Event on enabling equitable research systems hosted by Uganda National Center for Science and Technology (UNCST) in partnership with INASP-International Network for the Availability of Scientific Publications,
UNCST chairperson, Theresa Sengooba, said more focus has been put on the less privileged category of people like farmers, the youth and little assistance to researchers yet they also play a critical role in the development by trying to solve problems that affect these same disadvantaged people.
“If researchers were funded and given priority, they would find practical solutions that are sustainable for issues that affect most Ugandans. Government and the private sector needs to rethink their strategies,” she said.
Globally, Africa only contributes 1.1% to the global research pool and yet 34% of the global population lives on the continent.
Verity Warne, Head of Communications at Inasp told a news conference, their organisation was interested in promoting research in Uganda and Africa as a sustainable development solution because global challenges cannot be solved without proper research
“We are partnering with UNCST because we believe that to strengthen research, there is need to involve different stakeholders. This meeting aims at creating a platform where researchers, policy makers can meet and discuss way forwards for promoting research in Uganda” she said.
The discussions also centered on issues affecting women researchers and why there were few females in the research area. Participants agreed that the government should put in place special policies and funds that specifically target female researchers.