The Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation, Dr. Elioda Tumwesigye has revealed that government will invest a sum of Shs43 billion into Research and Innovation in the 2017/18 fiscal year.
He said that this Fund will help address counterpart funding which has often hampered collaborative research projects conducted in Uganda.
Dr. Tumwesigye while opening the Annual National Research Ethics Conference (ANREC) at Kampala Serena Hotel on Tuesday said that of the Shs43bn, a total of Shs13bn will be allocated to technology innovations while Shs30bn will go to science innovation.
“In Africa, many researchers would love to do research to just publish and attend international conferences but we can also invent and use research to make money,” Tumwesigye said.
“In Uganda, we are starting a Research and Innovation Fund and this year, we are only putting in Shs43bn. But the President has promised that once our oil starts flowing in 2020, our scientists and research will have the first call on that money.”
According to the Minister, the Fund will have 3 windows; basic and applied research, technology development adaptation and transfer, commercialization.
He stressed the need to train academicians in business development and linking them with other people.
“For Uganda to get to a point where we also manufacture medicines from our herbs, patent them and sell them, we need Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) equipment. And this requires over USD 10m but servicing such equipment needs money too,” the minister told participants.
He noted that at a time when science is advancing at a very fast pace with astounding inventions in biotechnology and synthetic technology, there’s need to invest in research infrastructure.
During the ANREC conference, the issue of funding came out as a major impediment to research in African countries which still depend heavily on grants from richer Western countries.
Dr. Paul Ndebele, the Director of Medical Research Council in Zimbabwe who delivered a keynote address said: “We (Africa) have come into the space of research as some kind of beggars and we end up getting raw deals since we simply take whatever is offered to us.”
He urged governments in Africa to provide a conducive environment for research to take place including financial resources, trainings and infrastructure development to boost capacity.