Regional governors who attended the Validation Workshop for Science, Technology, and Innovation at Swakopmund, have called on researchers to conduct research that solves socio-economic problems.
According to a national survey, Namibia has increased investment in research, as the country spent about 0.6% of its GDP on research in 2022, compared to 0.34% in 2014.
According to Oshana Governor Elia Irimari, "Which type of research are we talking about? We are more interested in transformational work with measurable outcomes. So we really need to prioritize. If you are working on non-touchable research, yes, that's good; we can have that soft infrastructure that cannot be felt. I'm a more action-oriented person."
Marius Sheya from the Kavango Region says, "You say we have spent this much or we have done this much research, but one also wants to understand the practicality of what comes out of the research. Where is it? It's a little bit discouraging that we have all these people who are capacitated and are doing research, but what we are facing as a country is not responding to the research. We're seeing here to the point where, even with COVID, we've been exposed to situations where we didn't do any research in the country and then had to bring things from outside the country to help us."
A professor from the University of Namibia (UNAM), Davis Mumbengegwi, indicated that Namibia is making progress as most of the money spent on research is responding to challenges in the sectors of agriculture, environment, and health.
"I think perhaps there needs to be more money to address these things, but the fact is, that is where most of the money is going—to issues of agriculture and food security. It's going to health, it's going to environmental issues, and it's going to challenges that our communities may be facing. I believe that a large portion of government spending in Namibia is spent on dealing with problems, so research accounts for only about 0.6% of that total. That's what we are saying. It's only 0.6%, if we increase it maybe we can start dealing with some of the issues that the governors are raising."
Professor Mumbengegwi says there is a positive shift from basic to experimental research compared to 2014, an indication of a country that is becoming more innovative.