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Ghana’s satellite launch to build capabilities in space science

Accra, July 28 – 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.

GNA

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