HomeFeaturesExperts bemoan inadequate African research response to COVID-19

Experts bemoan inadequate African research response to COVID-19

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Experts at a Research Summit organised by the Igbinedion University, Okada, Edo State, have described as ”abysmally low” the research response to the outbreak of the dreadful coronavirus pandemic in Africa.

In his keynote address, Dr. Kasirim Nwuke, Managing Partner, Misirak and Associates, a policy research firm, said except for Egypt and South Africa that were making headway in vaccine production, other countries, including Nigeria, made no efforts except for the funding of palliatives.

He noted that while the pandemic had improved the rate of research in the advanced world, Africa made little effort to fund research on how to contain the disease, particularly in the area of vaccine production.

Nwuke said he expected Nigeria to have led the way considering the fact that it boasts of researchers that had shown their capacities amidst global competitiveness.

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“There is a need to change the current disposition to research in Nigeria. There must be increased funding of young scientists and researchers within a conducive research environment,” he said.

One of the Lead Speakers at the summit, Prof. Jerome Afeikhena, who spoke on the sub-theme, “Macro-Economics and Development: Implications in Research and Development” stressed the need for Nigeria to improve on its research competencies, in order to succeed as a nation.

Afeikhena said that the pandemic triggered economic and health crisis in the history of the world, hence the need for the country to step up its game in research and innovation.

“World famous inventions today were made through universities’ researches and most famous universities in the world are all grounded in research.

“Nigerian universities must all take a cue from this, because the university is supposed to be at the vanguard of the fight against the virus, through research on vaccine and production of ventilators, among others.

“Except for the production of hand sanitisers and face masks, they are underperforming in research in the world,” he said.

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The speaker, who is the Special Advisor to the Commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture, Africa Union Commission, however, commended Africa for being able to contain the spread of the pandemic, when compared to happenings in the developed world.

He urged Africa to see this period as an unprecedented opportunity to reset the economy, asserting that available statistics had particularly shown that the Nigerian economy needed a reset.

Ms. Mervin Azeta, in her presentation “Science, Technology and Innovation”, advocated collaboration amongst all actors in an obvious and effective strategy to stimulate innovation in the country.

According to her, no individual can do it alone as it requires collaboration among individuals, government and institutions, to achieve innovation through research.

Earlier, in his address, Prof. Lawrence Ezemonye, Vice-Chancellor, University of Okada, noted that the absence of adequate policy responses had not helped matters, even though governments in developing countries, such as Nigeria, had very limited resources to respond to the crisis.

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Ezemonye called for more global cooperation, continental partnerships, and national multi-sectoral coordination in the fight against the scourge.

He said that the summit, with the theme: “Impact of COVID-19 on Research and Development” would be a great opportunity to share experiences and knowledge, in the bid to address research deficiencies and boundaries.

The theme for the 2021 edition of the summit, he explained, was carefully chosen to reflect the current realities on the subject and the global efforts towards mitigating them, amidst the yawning gap associated with research and development.

“Governments are stretching their budgets in developed countries, while in developing countries acquisition of foreign loans has become the order of the day.

“This is the time for global co-operation, continental partnership, and national multi-sectoral coordination.

He said that restoring global dynamism and continental optimism were required to change the scenario.

“Responding to the fast-changing landscape is a must; we need to innovate, we need to reach out to new partners, we need to re-engage and build trust across the board,’’ Ezemonye said.

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