By Innocent Anguyo
Makerere University has budgeted $60m (about sh156b) for undertaking “cutting-edge” research this year.
Speaking to the media, Dr George Nasinyama, the Deputy Director, Makerere University said the allocation is aimed at making the institution research-driven in all its deeds.
The sh150b, Nasinyama said would be sourced from both external funders and internally generated revenues.
“Although Makerere is highly ranked in Africa in terms of research output, we want it to the leading research institution in both Africa and the globe. When the next rankings come out, we could be the best on the continent,” said Nasinyama.
Early this year, Webometrics, an online university ranking system placed Makerere second in Africa, in terms of research output.
To attain the feat of becoming the leading research institution in Africa, Nasinyama said all academic staff are expected to reserve at least 20% of their time to conduct research-in a bid to expand the university’s stock of research output.
Makerere, Nasinyama said would equally ring-fence at least three percent of its total annual revenue for research.
Most of the funding to research at Makerere, nevertheless is largely expected to come from donors.
“We encourage our staff to write as many research proposals as possible so that we can secure more funding. We are also supporting staff in improving their proposals in a bid to make them fundable,” Nasinyama reiterated.
A handsome amount of the funding will come from the Swedish International Development Corporation Agency (Sida) which has agreed to extend support to research at Makerere to 2020.
In light of ensuring that most of the Makerere’s innovations and researches do not end up stashed in stores and on dusty shelves, Nasinyama revealed the university has started a unit called “Intellectual Property and Knowledge” –to help scholars turn ideas into products.
The university has also established incubation centers at the Schools of Food Science, Engineering and Information Technology to develop ideas into businesses.
Under such initiatives, the university has developed computer applications, fruit dryers, irrigation equipment and the Kira-EV electric car which goes into mass production in 2018.
The school of Food Science and Technology processes juice, nutrition supplements; and grows vegetables at controlled temperatures. All these products are sold at the university.
Nasinyama was speaking on the sidelines of the ongoing three-day training workshop for university administrators and faculty jointly organized by Makerere University and the Consortium for Advanced Research Training in Africa (CARTA).
The training which has attracted more than ten universities and four research institutions from across the world aims to strengthen the capacity of staff in research management and governance; use of information technology; supervision and mentoring of graduate students; and grant writing and librarianship.
Prof. Akinyinka Omokolapo Omigbodun, the CARTA Board Chairperson said the institution has trained about 400 staff since its inception five years ago. CARTA has also offered 100 doctoral scholarships since 2009.
In the next academic year, Omigbodun said CARTA would offer 25 full doctoral scholarships, accessible to staff in the partner institutions. CARTA spends about $200,000 to train a PhD student, according to Omigbodun.
He urged universities to offer incentives to researchers in a bid to improve the quality and quantity of Africa’s research output. He identified such incentives as few course units taught, share of research grant won and protected time for research.
Makerere University Vice Chancellor Prof John Ddumba Ssentamu commended the training, saying: “addressing the myriad of issues facing Africa requires research that is well conceptualized, conducted, analyzed and published by African themselves.”
Senior Makerere Publicist, Ritah Namisango said the training is aligned to the university’s strategic plan of transforming into a research-led institution.
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