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MRC hosts W/African researchers, innovators conference

Dec 15, 2016, 11:50 AM | Article By: Rose Gomez and Nyockeh

The Medical Research Council Gambia unit is currently playing host to an international conference of researchers and innovators in West Africa.

It is the 10th West African Research and Innovation Management Association (WARIMA) international conference which is being attended by about 80 participants from across West Africa.

The theme for this year’s conference is ‘Setting Research and Innovative Management Agenda for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The subtopics and themes being discussed include policy and priority setting for SDG research in West Africa, building and strengthening capacities for research and research management, strengthening research, and creativity and innovative cooperation among universities.

The participants are drawn from research and innovation management institutions as well as those interested in undertaking cutting edge research.

The conference was preceded by a two-day workshop on how to access research funds in an ever-changing and competitive research environment.

Professor Labode Popoola, president of WARIMA, said the forum offered the opportunity to sensitise and challenge researchers and innovation managers on the knowledge, products and services that will unleash development, yet balance the three dimensions of sustainable development: environment, social, and economy, in the West African sub-region.

He said in spite of Africa’s enormous natural resource endowment, its contribution to the development of the global economy is sub-optical.

Africa, the least developed continent in the world, is a continent characterised by low human capacity and low economic wellbeing.

The continent accounts for more than one billion people with the attendant development challenges.

WARIMA president pointed out that although global poverty has been on the decline as a result of rapid economic growth in Europe, the Americans and parts of Asia, Africa’s contribution to the decline is insignificant.

“Indeed absolute poverty in many of the African counties is on the increase,” he said.

Professor Popoola said poor and uncoordinated research and lack of innovations that can unleash development have been identified as some of the weak links in Africa’s development process.

“West Africa appears to be more affected in this regard,” he said, adding that WARIMA was founded in Lagos, Nigeria in 2006 to address some of these issues.

The objectives of WARIMA are professional development building, promotion of best practices, increasing awareness of research and innovation issues in academic and public, advocacy of appropriate national and institutional policy in support of research and innovation, and participation in the development and testing of policy.