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Dr. Arnoldo Ventura, Chief Advisor for Science and Technology in the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM), has called on regional governments to utilize the use of science and technology in solving their developmental problems.
Speaking at the first biennial symposium on Science and Technology in Barbados on Tuesday (March 8), Dr. Ventura said “the production and employment of modern technologies offer opportunities to solve many extant problems that face societies like our own”.
Dr. Ventura, who spoke on the topic ‘The Knowledge Economy: An opportunity to defeat underdevelopment’ implored governments to invest in institutions that conduct scientific research, noting that this would require “dramatic shifts in economic, political, regulatory and civil imperatives”.
He lamented the lack of research in fields such as health in developing countries, where tropical diseases were among the greatest hindrances to development. He further noted the limited investment by regional governments in higher education, research and development and software, when compared to rich countries. “Rich countries invest about 5 per cent of their Gross Domestic Product (GDP), while poor countries invest a paltry 1 per cent,” he informed.
The Science and Technology Adviser said that in order to succeed, governments must develop institutions and skills to identify, collect and distribute global science and technology information for industrial, agricultural, service and social purposes; improve the education and skills of nationals; provide incentives for domestic entrepreneurs and researchers; build an infrastructure to effectively communicate, disseminate and process information; and value critical thinking and analysis.
He also urged regional governments to employ modern technologies such as biotechnology, bioinformatics, nanotechnology and information and communication technologies, to ensure socio-economic advancement and to craft a worthwhile future for the region.Dr. Ventura further called for new directions in research and development to improve productive gains, including making use of foreign research.
“As the knowledge economy grows within the context of expanding international trade and rapid information exchange, a country’s productivity gains also depend on the research and development results of trading partners and from other knowledge centres across the world,” he pointed out.
Dr. Ventura concluded by emphasizing that governments must “lay out the regulatory and legal framework as they build mechanisms to allow for the use of scientific knowledge”.