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R&D institutions

Considering R&D institutions in Ghana, we shall first describe the three that we examined in some detail; we will then mention the other R&D institutions within Ghana's public and private sectors; finally we will observe the overall structure of Ghana's activities in science and technology, both from a statistical and from an administrative view.

The first research institution that we investigated was the Industrial Research Institute (IRI). Ghana was fortunate to have acquired several research institutes whose purview had been all of British West Africa. One of these was the Industrial Research Institute, established originally in 1964 as the Institute of Standards and Industrial Research. Now, as then, it has the function of providing solutions to problems encountered by local industry. As of the latest year for which figures are available, 1989/90, IRI had 24 people on their scientific staff, spread over 13 fields. Seven worked in the area of chemistry and chemical engineering; three in ceramics; two each in metallurgy, mechanical engineering, economics and physics; and one each in electrical engineering, agricultural engineering, planning, geology, statistics and library science. The numbers of scientific staff have varied over the last decade with the general state of the economy and with government expenditures; there were 21 in 1980, 16 in 1983, 20 in 1985, and 15 in 1987. Within these numbers, there is considerable turnover, young researchers being attracted to it because of the immediate incentives which it offers (50 per cent of initial salary as an inducement to take employment, and 30 per cent of any fees earned for the institute by consultancy work). IRI also provides sponsorship for young professionals who wish to pursue further studies either locally or abroad.

In addition to the R&D which IRI undertakes on its own behalf, it also provides technical services, on such matters as technology transfer, technical and managerial training etc., to firms, particularly those in metal working, and agricultural equipment industries, and building materials and ceramics.

The best measure of IRI's activities and aspirations can be gathered from figures on its funding (see Table 3.9). There are eight columns in the table, the first three devoted to recurrent funding, the second three to funding for development or capital investment, and the final two to ratios. Of the total recurrent expenditures, the major portion is consumed in wages and salaries. In 1980, the first year of our compilation, wages and salaries represented two-thirds of the total recurrent expenditures; this figure rose somewhat erratically to a fraction of three-quarters in 1990. In a few years - 1983 and 1985 - more was spent on administration than on the wages and salaries of scientific and technical staff; in the other years the proportions were reversed.

The only other item on which a substantial portion of IRI's recurrent expenditures have been allocated is an item labelled 'Overhead', which includes mainly the use of power, water and other utilities, and maintenance: overheads claim almost all of the residual left over after wages and salaries have been paid.

Table 3.9 Ghana Industrial Research Institute (IRI) requests for and allocations of funds, 1980-1991

Year Recurrent items (millions current Cedis) Development items (millions current Cedis) Ratios: expenditures as a percentage of requests by IRI
Requests by IRI Approvals by Finance Ministry Released for expenditure Requests by IRI Approvals by Finance Ministry Released for expenditure Recurrent Development
1980 0.09 n.a. 0.80 0 0 0 89 -
1981 2.38 1.38 1.16 0.79 0.32 0 49 0
1982 2.74 n.a. 1.41 1.15 0 0.10 52 9
1983 3.18 n.a. 1.55 1.70 0 0 49 0
1984 4.52 2.06 2.17 5.60 0 0 48 0
1985 7.52 6.17 6.86 5.35 0 0 91 0
1986 17.1 n.a. 16.5 13.2 n.a. 1.2 96 9
1987 33.7 27.0 22.6 16.6 n.a. n.a. 67 n.a.
1988 60.6 45.7 35.7 46.2 6.0 5.1 59 11
1989 105 88 54 200 116 61 51 31
1990 135 81 63 429 70 27 47 6

Source: Industrial Research Institute

Moving on to capital expenditures, requests by IRI have always been substantial, approximately equalling, and in some years even exceeding, requests for current expenditures. Only in the last three years which our records cover - 1988, 1989 and 1990 - however, were substantial funds made available for capital expenditures. In the first of these years, 1988, a foreign loan - from the African Regional Centre for Technology, which contributed 200 million Cedis - accounted for a major portion of the capital expenditures in that year, and in the following year, 1989, a large loan from the World Bank (amounting to US$120 million) included one billion Cedis for the IRI. The first tranche was approved by the Finance Ministry and released in 1989, permitting a capital expenditure of 61 million Cedis. Another 27 million Cedis were released in 1990, and, presumably, the balance will be made available over subsequent years. Starting in 1989, therefore, IRI has been building up its capital equipment.

Nonetheless, there is still a considerable backlog of capital expenditures requested by IRI and yet to be carried out, as a comparison of the figures in columns 4 and 6 of Table 3.9 indicates. Whereas requests for current expenditures have usually been approved in the proportions of roughly two Cedis approved for each three Cedis requested, the proportions of approvals to requests in the capital budget have been much smaller. From 1980 through 1987, in only one year were any funds approved at all; in two of the last three years, 1988 and 1990, approvals from the Finance Ministry were only about one-sixth of the amounts requested. To be sure, those undertaking R&D do request more funds than they expect to receive, but a lack of substantial approvals, or no approvals at all, does impose considerable stringency upon a research institute.

The data on IRI presented already are of an overall nature; they reveal little of the day to day activities of the institute. At the moment, these are concentrated in four projects - the development of a local biogas process, the adaptation of a Gari processing machine (Gari is a crude sugar), a machine for removing the hulls from groundnuts (peanuts), and a stove adapted to use liquid petroleum gas. In addition, IRI is involved in collaborating research with the Botany Department of the University of Ghana (involving classification of oil bearing plants and seeds), with the Geological Survey Department (involving the collection of samples of local raw materials with a potential use as glazes in ceramics) and with the Food Research Institute and Crops Research Institute (on the processing of cassava). IRI also trains technicians in welding, foundry operation, machining and toolmaking, drawing the apprentices from both private industrial firms and from the armed forces. Finally, IRI offers the service of its scientists and engineers as consultants to private industry, deriving from it annually an income which supplements government funds by a small percentage.

Towards the end of this chapter we shall consider the role of IRI within the overall conduct of R&D in Ghana, but after one final comment we will move on to the next research institute. The comment is that none of the funds which IRI has utilized over the last 10 years has come in the form of a donation from abroad. In order to augment the funds which it provided itself, the Ghanaian government was forced to borrow money from the World Bank: investment in R&D in industry does not come cheaply to Ghana

The next two research institutes that we studied do receive foreign bounty. The first is the Scientific Instrumentation Centre (SIC). The Centre was established as a joint undertaking of the Ghanaian government and UNDP. Its major objective is to develop facilities and skills in instrumentation and measurement suited to the educational, industrial and technological development of the country. The Centre undertakes calibration, repair and maintenance of scientific, industrial, educational and medical equipment.

The main divisions of the Scientific Instrumentation Centre are four in number: electrical/electronics; fine mechanics; calibration; and glass blowing. The academic background of the staff is in electrical, electronic and mechanical engineering, in physics, and in glass blowing. Table 3.10 reveals requests for funds, approvals and expenditures in the years 1979 through 1991; included within the totals are the donations, in foreign currency, received from UNDP. It was these donations - US$103,000 in 1984 and US$143,000 in 1985 - that permitted the large capital expenditures in 1985 and 1986.

The second research institute which has benefited from foreign donations is the Food Research Institute. The Food Research Institute conducts investigations into food processing, preservation, storage, marketing and distribution. The Institute employs 30 specialists and ancillary staff, most of whom are engaged in R&D. The areas which are covered are solar crop drying, quality evaluation and grading of grains, fisheries and fish technology, meat and fish processing technology and the growing of horticultural crops for export. The FRI also accumulates knowledge on the quality and characteristics of local food crops such as maize, cowpeas, mango, cassava, and fishes. It has also collaborated with the Cocoa Research Institute on standards and specifications for cocoa processing facilities.

Table 3.10 Ghana: Scientific Instrumentation Centre (SIC) requests for and allocations of funds, 1981-1991

Year Recurrent items (millions current Cedis) Development items (millions current Cedis) Ratios: expenditures as a percentage of requests
Requests by SIC Approvals by Finance Ministry Released for expenditure Requests by SIC Approvals by Finance Ministry Released for expenditure Recurrent Development
1981 0.67 n.a. 0.2 1.61 n.a. 0.0 30 0
1982 0.88 n.a. 0.3 1.72 n.a. 0.7 34 41
1983 1.51 n.a. 1.0 2.02 n.a. 0.4 66 20
1984 1.48 n.a. 1.7 4.50 n.a. 7.4 114 165
1985 3.18 n.a. 4.5 15.0 n.a. 23.0 141 154
1986 8.25 n.a. 10.0 33.7 n.a. 23.5 121 70
1987 13.8 n.a. 15.0 56.8 n.a. 12.9 109 23
1988 32.3 n.a. 11.5 42.0 n.a. n.a. 36 n.a.
1989 n.a. n.a. n.a. n.a. n.a. n.a. n.a. n.a.
1990 36.3 25.6 34.8 180 45 n.a. 96 n.a.
1991 n.a. 39.1 n.a. 98 70 n.a. n.a. n.a.

Source: Scientific and Instrumentation Centre

The budges for the Food Research Institute, to the extent that they are available, are reported in Table 3.11. The funds made available for current expenditures ('Recurrent Items'), have averaged approximately 75 per cent of requests; until 1987, requests for capital expenditures were granted only in very small proportion, but in that year, substantial foreign donations began to arrive. The amounts, in thousands of US dollars, have been as follows: 1987, $51.5; 1988, $21.1; 1989, $7.9; 1990, $70.0; and 1991, $13.9: in total, these donations come to US$164,000. Translated into Cedis at the exchange rates governing at the time of the donations, the figures reveal that foreign contributions covered a little over half of the capital expenditures of the Food Research Institute during those five years. For the Food Research Institute, current expenditures appear to have been financed adequately out of government funds; capital expenditures, however, have been more than double what the Ghanaian government could finance on its own account.

The final public research institute that we will consider is the Technology Transfer Centre (TTC). Although established in 1981 under the Ministry of Industries, Science and Technology, the Technology Transfer Centre did not become active until 1988, by which time its legal status had changed to that of a semi-autonomous research institute. Its activation came about as a result of an interest expressed by UNDP, which decided to finance an institution-building project whose purpose was to promote Ghana's capacity for the transfer, utilization and development of foreign technology. Within this general rubric, the Technology Transfer Centre attempts to identify the technological needs of the national economy, to obtain information on the alternative sources of technology to meet these needs, to gain knowledge as to how best to acquire the preferred technologies, to learn how to 'unpack' imported technology, to assist in negotiating the best possible terms and conditions for the acquisition of foreign technology, and finally, to disseminate to potential users information about foreign technologies which would be appropriate for Ghanaian conditions.

With UNDP's assistance, the Centre has built up a staff of permanent employees, and a core of outsiders, who are hired as consultants. The main activity thus far has been the publication of papers, but it is expected that more attention will be devoted to establishing links with Ghanaian industries.

The budgetary information on the Technology Transfer Centre is given in Table 3.12. From the table, it will be seen that capital expenditures have been as substantial as current costs, a common experience in the establishment of a new research institute. In its first four years, UNDP's contribution has been allocated to capital expenditures, and has amounted to a substantial portion of the total. Given the fact that so much of Ghana's industrial investment in the first 20 years of its independence was not appropriate for the factor endowments of the country, being overly capital and skill intensive, and given that much of the capital equipment was acquired, via tied loans, to unduly expensive sources, the investigations of a group such as the Technology Transfer Centre could be extremely beneficial for Ghana. It is too early to tell, however, whether or not these benefits have begun to accumulate.

Table 3.11 Ghana: Food Research Institute (FRI) requests for and allocations of funds, 1981-1991

Year Recurrent items (millions current Cedis) Development items (millions current Cedis) Ratios: expenditures as a percentage of requests
Requests by FRI Approvals by Finance Ministry Released for expenditure Requests by FRI Approvals by Finance Ministry Released for expenditure Recurrent Development
1981 2.7 n.a. 2.2 n.a. n.a. n.a. 81 n.a.
1982 5.3 n.a. 3.8 n.a. n.a. n.a. 72 n.a.
1983 n.a. n.a. n.a. 10.8 n.a. n.a. n.a. n.a.
1984 5.5 n.a. 4.0 4.0 n.a. n.a. 73 n.a.
1985 6.7 n.a. n.a. n.a. n.a. n.a. n.a. n.a.
1986 n.a. n.a. 25.6 7.5 7.5 0.19 n.a. n.a.
1987 n.a. n.a. 31.4 40.6 7.2 1.9 n.a. 5
1988 n.a. 29.1 50.4 49.4 49.4 4.8 n.a. 10
1989 n.a. 54.4 64.7 62.0 54.1 12.7 n.a. 21
1990 n.a. 69.3 68.5 75.0 57.0 54.7 n.a. 73
1991 n.a. 164.8 81.0 85.0 45.0 8.5 n.a. 10

Source: Food Research Institute

Table 3.12 Ghana: Technology Transfer Centre (TTC) requests for and allocations of funds, 1988-1991

Year Recurrent items (millions current Cedis) Development items (millions current Cedis) Ratios: expenditures as a percentage of requests
Requests by TTC Approvals by Finance Ministry Released for expenditure Requests by TTC Approvals by Finance Ministry Released for expenditure Recurrent Development
1988 4.5 3.7 3.7 0 0 0 82 -
1989 12.0 10.6 10.6 10.0 9.6 9.6 9.6 88
1990 21.6 15.9 15.9 30.0 27.0 13.2 74 44
1991 25.0 19.3 21.5 50.0 40.0 34.3 86 69

Source: Technology Transfer Centre

At this stage, we should introduce the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), which supervises the three research institutes we have already mentioned, as well as ten other research institutes and the Technology Transfer Centre. CSIR was established shortly after independence, first as the National Research Council and subsequently, in 1968, under its current title. At first, the CSIR was responsible to the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning, but with the creation of the new Ministry of Industries, Science and Technology in September 1979 the CSIR was transferred to it. The functions, organization, terms of reference and parliamentary authority of the CSIR are all described in the report by Goka et al. (1990).

Essentially the CSIR is the overseer of science and technology in Ghana. Its functions include organizing and coordinating scientific, industrial and agricultural research in all its aspects. It also undertakes the collection, publication and dissemination of results of the research and of statistics measuring its performance. For example, the figures on the overall expenditure of monies on advancing science and technology in Ghana, which we will present at the end of this section, were compiled by CSIR. The CSIR itself is primarily an advisory body, and maintains only a small staff: the administration of these individual research institutes is in the hands of their Management Boards, who have the responsibility for determining such matters as the allocation of funds and the determination of research priorities.

Until recently, the CSIR occupied a minor role in Ghana's programmes to advance science and technology, but with the attempts to plan, execute and monitor the national efforts, the CSIR has taken on a larger role. The first attempt to draw up a National Science and Technology Plan was made at the time of the formulation of the National Socio Economic Development Plan of 1981/5. A second attempt is being made currently, not in the context of the formulation of the National Plan but in that of the functioning of Sectoral Technical Committees, which are considering programmes of a scientific and technological nature in greater detail. When a fully fledged programme for the advance of science and technology is developed, the CSIR will presumably be given a strong part in its implementation.

There are other research institutes outside the purview of the CSIR, but still within the realm of government. One of these is the Ghana Atomic Energy Commission, which reports directly to the President of the country and which administers the National Nuclear Research Institute. Employed by the National Nuclear Research Institute (NNRI) are approximately 50 scientists and engineers, 20 technicians and an additional 330 staff in support. The major source of finance for the institute is the International Atomic Energy Authority, which has been providing approximately US$500,000 each year; the government of Ghana also contributes funds for wages and salaries, the major recurrent expense. The focus of the Institute is on the application of those techniques which have been developed in atomic and nuclear establishments in the developed countries to the resolution of agricultural and industrial problems in Ghana. The three main research projects involve training in nuclear instrumentation (primarily the maintenance and repair of advanced electronic equipment) research into nutrition and reproduction of sheep and cattle, so as to improve animal husbandry, and the breeding of sterile insects, particularly tsetse flies, in order to reduce the ravages on herds of ruminants.

With an assured source of funds from abroad, and with the highly sophisticated capital equipment that these funds have procured, working in the Institute offers an opportunity to apply the most modern of scientific techniques. Added to this inducement are incentives upon joining the institute, such as an initial allowance, and the possibility of attending the International Atomic Energy Association's training courses and conferences abroad. As a consequence, the turnover of staff has been extremely low, only four scientists having resigned during the Institute's history. (Two went to analogous institutions; the other two moved into the teaching of electronics.)

There are not many statistics available on the National Nuclear Research Institute's finances. The foreign grant, which has already been mentioned, consists primarily of convertible currencies and was used in part to buy capital equipment, and in part for construction, furnishings and motor vehicles. In 1990, the recurrent expenditures of the Institute were 876 million Cedis, of which 25 per cent went for wages and salaries, 10 per cent for maintenance and repairs, and the balance for other current inputs. In the same year, an almost exactly equal amount, 816 million Cedis, was allocated to capital expenditures; approximately one-third being devoted to construction and the remainder to plant, equipment and vehicles. The estimates for 1992 are divided in approximately the same amounts, somewhat less than half to capital expenditures and somewhat more than half to recurrent expenditures. The main change between 1990 and 1992 is that wages and salaries have increased to consume half the recurrent budget.

Although the National Nuclear Research Institute has been in existence since 1982, and thus spans the last decade, its performance cannot be judged. In this sense, it is similar to the Technology Transfer Centre, the previously mentioned research institute whose purpose it is to try to adapt foreign technology for Ghanaian needs. These are inherently projects whose outputs are impossible to measure, and whose performance can only be evaluated over a very long period.

The next research institute is judged on more pragmatic grounds. It is the Cocoa Research Institute of Ghana (CRIG). The origin of the Cocoa Research Institute of Ghana goes back to June 1938 when the Central Cocoa Research Station was established within the Gold Coast Department of Agriculture. It was located then, as it is now, at Tafo, in one of the cocoa growing regions approximately 50 miles north of Accra. By 1944, the new research station was functioning well enough to be selected as the headquarters for the West African Cocoa Research Institute, covering British colonies in the Gold Coast, Nigeria, Sierre Leone and Gambia. When the West African Regional Association was dissolved, in October 1962, the Station was taken over by the Ghanaian government and given its present name. For the next 15 years, control of the Cocoa Research Institute of Ghana moved back and forth from one organization to another, until July 1979, when it was finally assigned as a division of the Cocoa Marketing Board. Since then it has been under the authority, and received the bulk of its funds from the Cocoa Board, with occasional grants from the Ghanaian government. Only in two recent years have foreign donors provided financial support.

In 1986, the staff of the Cocoa Research Institute of Ghana consisted of 28 scientists, 22 technicians and 50 administrators, as well as a larger number of lesser skilled employees. Five years later, at the end of 1991, the scientific staff had increased to 38, of whom 16 had PhDs and 22 had BScs and MScs. The main purpose of the Cocoa Research Institute of Ghana when it was first established in 1938 was to address the problems threatening the African cocoa industry; the objective is much the same today, although the scope of the institute has been expanded so as to include other indigenous products that yield vegetable oil. The main direction of the research in 1938 was to reducing the depredations of pests and diseases upon the cocoa tree; the direction is much the same today. The main accomplishments of the Institute have been the development of new varieties of cocoa which are resistant to the two main diseases afflicting cocoa, swollen shoot virus and black pod infection. Studies have also led to recommendations on the conditions under which different varieties of cocoa will flourish and the amounts and extent to which fertilizers should be used. The cocoa tree also yields by-products, cocoa pod husks, which can be used for animal feeds, pectin which can be used in the production of alcohol, and fats from cocoa bean waste which can be used in the manufacture of soap. In recent years, attention has been directed also to the rehabilitation of old and abandoned cocoa plantations.

CRIG is divided into six divisions: Agronomy/Soil Science, Etymology, Plant Breeding, Plant Pathology, Physiology/Biochemistry, and Statistics/Farming Systems. The divisions have approximately equal numbers of the people employed. In addition, CRIG has three research substations, two in the Eastern Region, and one in the Northern Region. In the other four cocoa growing regions of Ghana, CRIG cooperates with the Cocoa Services Division of the Cocoa Board in joint field trials. A small amount of coffee is produced in Ghana and its improvement also falls under the aegis of the Cocoa Research Institute.

Statistics on the Cocoa Research Institute's funding are available since 1975/6, yielding a longer financial history than for any other of the country's research institutes. These statistics are laid out in the familiar fashion in Table 3.13. In the case of the Cocoa Research Institute, the requests are those of its Director; these requests go first to the Cocoa Board, where they are scrutinized. From the Cocoa Board the requests are passed to the Ministry of Finance, which gives final approval. In the final two columns of Table 3.13 we see that there is a much closer correspondence between requests and approvals for the Cocoa Research Institute than for the research institutes under the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research. In part this is because the Cocoa Research Institute receives the bulk of its funds as a levy upon the sales of cocoa by the Cocoa Board; it therefore has a reasonably assured source of income. In part, the government recognises the importance of cocoa to the Ghanaian economy and so supplements the receipts from the Cocoa Board from its own resources. These two resources have provided the Cocoa Research Institute with extraordinary financial stability, which is reflected in its considerable accomplishments. We shall have something to say about the institutional nature of the CRI's support in the final part of this study.

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