African Researchers Must Be at the Forefront of Research on the Continent

Researchers in Africa have been urged to collaborate and lead research into issues that affect the lives of people on the continent.

This call was made at a roundtable discussion during the closing ceremony of the two-week International PhD Summer School which was hosted by the Institute for Development Studies.

Making a presentation at the function, a former Director of the Institute of African Studies, University of Ghana, Prof. Akosua Adomako Ampofo, said the goal of research was to make a difference in the society so African Researchers should be bold and open minded to new ideas that would enhance their research capabilities on issues affecting the continent. “Somebody should not be telling us the problems we are going through. We should lead and engage in dialogue and collaborative research about issues that affect our lives as Africans.” She noted.

Prof. Ampofo said African Researchers should recognise and make reference to African knowledge producers whether music, poetry, folktales from the elderly in the society. “We cannot privilege other people’s knowledge about ourselves more than our own” she said.  She urged participants to contextualise concepts and terminologies to fit their environment.

The Director of International Centre for Development and Decent Work of the University of Kassel, Prof. Dr. Christoph Scherrer, implored participants to question the status quo to make it better by mastering their research methods. “Forces of the status quo are highly organised at the global level who are wealthy and very influential and have built strong networks”, he said. He noted that there were powerful forces that determine the status quo and therefore, African Researchers needed to network to come out with objective research findings.

Prof. Scherrer advised participants of the Summer School to take advantage of the network that had been created to broaden their horizon about what was happening at other places to help them to be critical of their own environment and also learn from different perspectives. “The issue of collective forces connects with social forces to make your research valuable. If your research is not valuable, then nothing can be made out of it” he noted.

In his presentation, Dr. Kwabena Nyarko Otoo, of the Trades Union Congress (TUC), said though Ghanaian academics have undertaken several research activities however, the concentration had been at micro level.  He urged academics to interrogate issues at the macro level by focusing on all aspects that contribute to the problems identified.  

 “Academics in Ghana are silent about key issues affecting the country” he said.

Dr. Otoo said academics should be advocates of their research work so that people would be aware of the issues and join forces to ensure that the appropriate recommendations were implemented to solve them. He was worried that academics were not interrogating national policies that various governments had introduced in the country. “Academics in Ghana are silent about key issues affecting the country” he noted.

The roundtable discussion was chaired by Prof. Akua Opokua Britwum.