Leading African Development Economist and Vice Chancellor of University of Ghana, Legon, Professor Ernest Aryeetey says that Nigeria and Africa in general will not have globally competitive economies without investing in university research.
He also noted that low investment in research-focused universities accounts for why many African universities are lowly ranked and cannot be globally competitive.
According to the seasoned economist, Africa must develop research universities that will help in providing sound knowledge economy for its transformation and positive change.
Aryeetey made the reamarks while delivering the 67th Interdisciplinary Discourse of the Postgraduate School, University of Ibadan under the Deanship of Professor Adeyinka Aderinto.
Speaking on the topic “Developing Research Universities for Africa: Some New Approaches”, Professor Aryeetey noted that universities must specialise either in teaching or doing researches, noting that not all universities should be combining both teaching and researching.
He said African Universities must collaborate, which he said will lead to develop output that will solve Africa’s problems, adding that the African Research Universities Alliance (ARUA) has this as one of its visions.
According to him, there is a correlation between research output and economic growth, adding that if Nigeria and African governments refused to fund research for the transformation of Africa, it will be difficult for the continent to experience transformation.
“Having research focused universities is important but expensive but the end product is total transformation and economic growth. Innovation comes from research which leads to transformation. We need to pay more attention to research in Africa. Our governments complain of low ranking universities and want us to compete globally but can they do what Harvard, Yale and Princeton universities are investing in Research? They must invest in Research to have their economies change and the continent can be competitive with the rest of the world. We need to change the face of infrastructure in our universities and attract leading scholars through attractive incentives and train more faculties that can conduct transformational research. African problems are of different nature. Our problem is about low productivity in agriculture, health but we must conduct researches that will solve our own problems. We must formulate policies based on researches conducted by African researchers not on important policy from another clime which is at variance with realities on the continent. It is sad that Africa accounts for 1% of world research outputs.”
He noted that the low level investment in research and development in African countries was due to the fact that government and companies do not want to spend money on research, adding that researchers must learn to conduct researches that have direct bearing on African needs.
The Vice chancellor, University of Ibadan, Professor Idowu Olayinka who stated that education is the bedrock of development, however lamented that the popular recognition of the role of universities in national development still operate theoretically in Nigeria and in most countries in sub-Saharan Africa.
Olayinka stated that African governments have failed to meet the needs of her universities which can help the continent o build competitive economies by developing skilled, productive and flexible workforce and by creating, applying and spreading innovations and technologies.
He urged the federal government to invest in research and stop blaming educational institutions of ranking lowly in the global educational system.