A workshop organised by the Alliance for Science, International Institute for Tropical Agriculture (IITA) and the West African Centre for Crop Improvement (WACCI), saw a number of scientists and some students, working and studying in the biotechnology space to develop their communication skills. Dubbed “Speaking Science Ghana”, the event took place over a four day period.
Founding director for WACCI, Professor Eric Yirenkyi Danquah, in his remarks as the opening speaker, urged various governments in Africa to invest in science and technology due to its numerous benefits to the growth of their economies.
“The time has come for African governments to use the data available to make decisions that would improve livelihoods and lift millions out of extreme hunger and poverty,” he said.
He further called on participants to use the knowledge and skills they will gain from the program, to better communicate issues surrounding genetically modified foods, in order to erase misconceptions to influence policy.
Participants were taken through a series of sessions that sought to expand their knowledge on the state of biotechnology in the country, as well as, trainings that equipped them to employ good communication skills while communicating their work to the public.
Dr. Maxwell Darko Asante, a research scientist with the Council for Science and Industrial Research and also a participant, noted that the program has been an excellent opportunity for him to network with some media personalities and colleague scientists.
“I feel I am more equipped to grant more interviews to the media and write more articles and opinion pieces in controversial sciences like GMOs and other topics related to my expertise,” he said.
Dr. Elaine Azu, a research scientist with the Biotechnology and Nuclear Agriculture Research Institute (BNARI), commended the organisers for including effective practical sessions, and added that she feels much equipped to use social media as a tool to communicate to others about her work as a scientist.
“I know now, I don’t have to shy away from Tiktok or Facebook, but be bold and go out there because our people need to know what scientists are doing in their labs and how beneficial it will be to them. So for me, I’ll use social media more,” she said.
Participants also had the chance to pitch their ideas on a mini communication plan for GMOs. Three groups out of five, won grants to implement their plans over a 3-month period.