Young Scientists

Marie-Monique Rasoazananera: "Scientific research must be the engine that drives economy"

Who are you?

I am Professor Marie-Monique Rasoazananera, from Madagascar. I am an academic, economist and Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research in Madagascar.

Why do you attend the YASE meeting?

I am a member of the patrons committee. And also I am really involved, as a Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research, in the vision of research in Africa, including Madagascar. And above all, it is about young scientists. How can African scientists working in Europe be integrated into their countries' research? This is really very important because these young people will provide the answers to the various questions concerning the development of their country. Because the objective of research is to meet development needs. Because poverty still prevails in Africa, although there are human and natural resources.

Many young African scientists come to work in Europe and don’t return. What is your opinion about this?

On the one hand, we understand young people. Because they are here in Europe, they have a certain way of life. They have laboratories, renowned universities. They wonder what will happen to them if they return to Africa. Will they go on with research ? Will they find a research environment, with laboratories and infrastructures? Will they find a suitable job? On the other hand, young Africans must also realize that the research they do must really meet the needs of their country. Research that will use their country's resources, such as natural resources. These young African scientists must not be afraid to return, but be ready to face what they will find there. In Madagascar, we have a national research strategy, master plans that are really priorities for Madagascar's economy. So the priorities of research are Madagascar's development priorities. For example, we have master plans for agriculture, health, renewable energy, climate change, marine science. These are master plans that use research orientations, that will use the potential of Madagascar. So the young Africans who do their research here must take time to see the realities. Is there something or nothing that works in Africa? What works is that these young Africans have to accept to deal with it.

How is research funding in Madagascar?

Research is still downsized regarding economy matters, although it should feed the economy. So, often, the budget for research funding is minimal. It is not not yet widely understood that scientific research must be the driving force that can boost the economy. If we do not invest in research, there will be nothing. As Minister of Higher Education, I made it clear that research must have more money. So Madagascar created a kind of "basket fund" to which we invited traditional donors and also economic operators to contribute. So we defined a project. There are already promises to put something in this fund. And the government has already made its contribution, to boost investment in research.

Interview by Jean-Bruno Tagne

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