The 14th West African Research and Innovation Management Association (WARIMA) annual workshops and conference, hosted in The Gambia at the Sir Dawda Kairaba Jawara International Conference Center in Bijilo, was a four-day event from the 15th to the 18th of January, 2023. The international event saw participants from over 12 countries around the globe.
The WARIMA workshop and conference were jointly hosted by the MRC Unit The Gambia at London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (MRCG at LSHTM), in collaboration with the Ministry of Higher Education, Research, Science and Technology (MoHERST) and The University of the Gambia (UTG).
The theme for this year is “Research Management in the Era of equitable partnership and Open Science”.
The annual conference provided an opportunity for research management professionals at all levels in the sub-region to come together for knowledge exchange, networking and capacity strengthening. The conference helps build cohesions and partnerships with sister organizations across Africa with similar mandates.
On Tuesday, 17th January 2023, the Honourable Minister of Higher Education, Research, Science and Technology, Professor Pierre Gomez officially opened the 14th WARIMA annual workshops and conference in The Gambia.
In his opening remarks, Hon. Gomez underlined the significant efforts the ministry has undertaken towards improving the research fraternity in the country. This includes the development of a National Research Policy and a sector-specific strategy which provide a critical reflection of national priorities to develop a research and development system which will lead to the pursuit of self-fulfilment, personal development and national and global participation.
The Minister, Prof Gomez highlighted that the government of The Gambia, through MoHERST, is looking forward to closer research cooperation and partnership within the national, regional and international communities.
“Sessions like these will significantly enhance the research community's capacity and strengthen their regional and beyond networks. It is a fact that collective effort proved more vital and sometimes more dependable than an individual or disjointed endeavours. Therefore, all the parties must communicate effectively and act within their responsibilities,” said the Minister of Higher Education.
In his talk titled: Plan for tomorrow, today – Building the next generation of African Researchers, keynote speaker Professor Sir Tumani Corrah, President and Founder of Africa Research Excellence Fund (AREF) urged participants of the 14TH WARIMA conference to enhance their, publication, grant writing and communications skills. His take-home message: “It is high time we Africans make our own research, otherwise, we would be adapting to the findings of others. Publish or perish.”
Professor Herbert Robinson, Vice Chancellor, UTG, speaking at the 14th WARIMA conference in The Gambia stressed that “You cannot manage what you cannot measure”. Thus, he underlined the importance of having a research culture in our institutions as it is a way of finding solutions to existing problems. According to the VC, the doors at UTG are open for more collaborations with WARIMA.
In his statement, Umberto D’Alessandro, Unit Director of MRCG at LSHTM, underscored the competitive landscape of the research fraternity in the world. As a result, he identified the need for an efficient management system and investment in research institutions.
The WARIMA president, Dembo Kanteh stated that the organization is encouraged by the partnerships generated while identifying the need to build more meaningful research collaborations, thus the theme of the workshop.
The Director of Research, James Gomez gave an engaging presentation on the establishment of the National Research Policy for The Gambia identifying the new rules for the management of research.
Furthermore, there were other interactive sessions on different thematic areas such as project management, intellectual property, research culture, and research integrity among others.
Recommendations were made for universities, research institutions and the private sector in West Africa to invest more in gender research and innovation in order to provide evidence for public policy and support The Gambia’s commitment to achieving the Sustainable Development Goal in these areas.