Ugandan scientists have intensified their demand for the establishment of a dedicated ministry in charge of sciences. They argue that establishing a Ministry directly in charge of science would help promote scientific development and the welfare of scientist in the country. Currently, the ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development is in charge of the science sector, which scientists argue does not give prominence to sciences.
Dr Peter Ndemere, the Executive Secretary of Uganda National Council of Science and Technology says that science and technology was moved to the ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development when government carried out a restructuring exercise that merged the ministry of Finance with that of Planning and Economic Development where science and technology previously belonged. He says chapter six of the current National Development Plan proposes the creation of a ministry of science and technology similar to those in countries such as Malaysia, Kenyan and Tanzania.
Ndemere however says the most important thing is to ensure that the functions of the institutions of science and technology are fully facilitated wherever they are.
Hamson Obua, the Chairman of Parliamentary Committee on Science and Technology says they have already moved a motion urging government to create a ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation to cater for the interests of the sectors. Obua explain that the need for a dedicated ministry of science was one of the three demands that scientists presented to the parliamentary committee of science and Technology during a meeting the two had at the start of the 9th parliament.
He says that in their motion they specifically ask government either to set up a ministry of science, technology and innovation or upgrades the ministry of ICT into the ministry of science with ICT as a department. Other demands by the scientists to the MPs were to push government to improve financial allocation to the science sectors since most of the activities under the sector are donor funded. Obua adds that the third demand by the scientists include the need to have a law on Bio safety and Biotechnology.
The creation of a separate ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation, it is hoped would ensure adequate resource allocation and prominence to the sectors. Maria Kiwanuka, the minister for Finance, Planning and economic Development mentioned in the 2013-14 budget speech that government would continue to support Scientific and Technological innovation to drive value addition, increase the country’s competitiveness in the global market and create employment among other benefits. She observed that innovations, science and technology were no longer an option in today’s global competitive economic environment.