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ORTARChI inaugurates Prof. Nathaniel Boso as a Research Chair

The Oliver & Adelaide Tambo Foundation (OATF) in collaboration with the National Research Foundation(NRF), Department of Science and Innovation, South Africa and the International  Development Research Centre, Canada (IDRC), has launched the O.R Tambo Africa Research Chairs Initiative (ORTARChI) on 27th October 2020. The launch which was under the theme; Investing in Research and Innovation Excellence in Africa” sought to inaugurate 10 well-deserving research chairs from 7 African Countries namely; Ghana, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Mozambique, Uganda, Tanzania and Zambia.

The launch highlighted the importance of Pan Africanism, education, science & technology innovation and Africa’s potential to solve global problems.

Dr. Molapo Qhobela, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) NRF, in his remarks noted that ORTARChI was first announced in 2017 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Oliver Reginald Tambo. According to him, the initiative would advance African solidarity and research excellence for the benefit of the whole continent. He used the opportunity to congratulate all research chairs on their inauguration.

Prof. Nathaniel Boso

Newly appointed Research Chair, Professor Nathaniel Boso of the KNUST School of Business (KSB), explaining his project during the virtual event, mentioned that Ghana and Africa faced a major development challenge in the rising youth unemployment with 60% of Africans either unemployed or underemployed. He noted that his role on ORTARChI is to lead a team to explore ways technology entrepreneurship can aid in reducing youth unemployment in Africa. According to him, this would be achieved by enhancing local relevant research, postgraduate programmes and engagement with relevant stakeholders across Africa.

Honourable Prof. Kwabena Frimpong- Boateng, Minister of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation in a discussion on government’s role in the growth of institutional expertise and talents developed by top researchers, expressed his gratitude to the OATF for including Ghana in the Initiative.  He noted that Africa’s survival depended on the ability to understand, interpret, adapt and transmit scientific and technological knowledge. Therefore, Ghana is in the process of establishing a national research development fund as well as strategic facilities to design and manufacture tools that would translate the outputs of research and innovations to actual product services.

In terms of sustainability, he added, the government of Ghana has initiated a policy which places science and technology at the centre of socio-economic development, making it a fulcrum of the country’s development. He mentioned that the government has been supporting the establishment of offices, private sectors and collaborations of which has resulted in some entrepreneurial activities. He was of the view that collaboration between African countries would expand scientific and innovative systems which are essential networks across the continent.

The launch was attended by Ministers from some African countries, CEO of OATF, Ms. Zengeziwe Msimang, President of IDRC, Dr. Jean Lebel and Joy Doreen Biira as moderator.

In a related development, ORTARChI hosted its Annual Gathering on 28th October 2020 for research chairs, University project managers, ORTARChI, NRF and IDRC programme officers and Vice-Chancellors of Universities.

The programme was divided into two sessions. The first session focused on high-level engagement with funding partners on the essence of ORTARChI and emulating the ideals of O R Tambo whilst the second session also focused on governance, roles and responsibilities of ORTARChI. During the event, research chairs were briefed on their expected roles throughout the next 5 years.

ORTARChI builds on and leverages existing continental frameworks and intervention geared towards institutional capacity strengthening; the development of high-end skills; recruitment and retention of excellent researchers; and incentives to support research that contributes to socio-economic and transformative development. The initiative has established 10 research chairs across Africa at the cost of approximately 215 000 US dollars per year per research chair applicable for one 5- year term.

The Initiative focuses on African Research Excellence and Innovation as well as promoting the legacy of O R Tambo by emulating his values of professional excellence, integrity, inclusiveness, honesty, humility and respect for human dignity.