Research has become a primary activity used by scientists, researchers and even unknowingly by citizens to uncover the unknowns, therefore solve daily problems. Moreover, research and development (R&D) can play a vital role in a transformation of any economy. This article aims to highlight the importance of research and how the involvement of the youth in research can be vital to the sustainable development of our country.
The Oxford dictionary defines research as a systematic enquiry (investigation) into materials and other sources in order to discover new knowledge, establish facts and reach new conclusions. Research is a tedious, expensive and challenging process but one that can yield extra ordinary results that can transform a nation from being dependent nation into a self-reliant nation, and from developing nation to a developed nation.
Today, Namibia is facing a growing number of challenges, from water scarcity to drought and poor service delivery which could have been mitigated if enough resources were allocated to research. Research can play a prominent role in finding solutions and establishing proactive strategies that will help communities overcome the challenges they face, improve service delivery and drive development. Furthermore, research can also play an essential role in generating the much needed knowledge that will help transform Namibia’s economy into a knowledge based economy.
Despite the importance and the impact research can have in building an inclusive Namibian house, only a few young people in Namibia are interested or undertaking research beyond their academic commitments. This is due to the lack of funding for research activities in Namibia. Furthermore, lack of clear incentives for researchers is also another reason why we have a few Namibian youth participating in research activities.
The establishment of the national commission on research, science & technology (NCRST) in terms with section 4 of the research, science & technology act of 2004 is a step in the right direction towards funding research. However, NCRST alone cannot adequately fund research through the entire country, thus there is a need for the private sector to join hands with government through NCRST and public institutions such as NUST & UNAM to co-fund research in Namibia. Although the private sector in Namibia is small compared to other countries, with their deep pockets private companies can play a crucial role in ensuring that Namibia has a dedicated, prioritised and systematic funding for research, science and technology. Furthermore, ensures that solutions that comes of research reaches the intended communities.
Sometimes, one cannot comprehend when technology companies such MTC & Telecom Namibia spend millions of dollars to sponsor boxing bonazas but do not spend even N$ 50 000 yearly to support research that will advance technology in Namibia. While in other countries it’s ICT companies, who together with government are funding initiatives that are teaching young people how to code and solutions that are helping municipalities save water etc.
Despite the importance and need for partnerships, government should drive the research agenda, thus ensure that it’s pragmatically in line with national development plan 5, Harambee Prosperity Plan and vision 2030. Additionally, government should also show its seriousness on the significance of research, science & technology as catalyst for economic growth and development by providing sufficient resources. If we are serious about solving socio-economic challenges that our people are facing, therefore realise the idea of an inclusive Namibian house, where no one is left behind by 2025, as a country we need to invest about N$ 80 million every year just to conduct research for the next 9 years. Moreover, we need to attract more youth to scientific research, thus ensure sustainability and continuity of research activities in the country.
Research, Science & Technology are the pillars of any modern state. Without them a nation cannot generate its own knowledge, neither can it develop. It is really up to us as a nation to invest where we can yield positive results or continue to make promises to our people which will never be realised. Without adequate research activities both the Harambee Prosperity Plan and vision 2030 will remain just dream in an imaginary Namibian house.
*Lameck Mbangula Amugongo is country Ambassador of 1 Billion Africa in Namibia. He holds B.IT: Software Engineering, B.Hons: Software Development (Cum Laude) and currently pursuing MSc. Computer Science