In continuation to the list of articles on scientific research status in countries that are undergoing revolutionary changes in the Middle East, the next 2 articles will be dedicated to Libya.
Like many Arab countries, the research status in Libya has a lot of room for improvement. Dr OA Tashani believed young Libyan researchers could provide the solution to improving research status. He claimed that almost 4500 researchers were acquiring their post graduate degrees from European and North American Universities. In his article The Scientific Research in Libya: The Role of the New Generation of Researchers, Tashani indicated brain drain as one the chief factor contributing to the deteriorated state of scientific research. In addition, lack of research funding and infrastructure and scientists overworked with teaching are other major causes.
He claimed that only 1.4 articles are published per 100 academic staff in Al Fetah Medical School of Tripoli. According to the Arab League reports, 54% of physicians, 17% of scientists and 26% of engineers in Arab and African countries immigrate to west. To combat such extensive brain drain, countries such as Algeria stopped sending academic staff to pursue post graduate degrees in Europe and USA. But the Libyan government assisted academic staff to travel abroad for their post graduate degrees.
Upon their return the researchers find few funding opportunities for their research. Dr Tashani mentioned that this is a general problem in Arab countries and maintained that young researchers were neither politically savvy nor experienced networkers to secure funding for their research. Also, many of their research projects seemed unrealistic and many were unaware of the few local, regional and international grant opportunities.
Fortunately, in the last couple of years the political will was geared to reforming the economy and advancing the country. In the research field the government has equipped laboratories at universities, hospitals and research centers with state of the art equipment, but in some instances failed to find the local expertise to run these equipment. In addition, the priority to university management is teaching rather than research. In fact, the income depends on the number of hours professors teach. The author recommends that young researchers with academic degrees from abroad should assist in incorporating research into universities, because they received the necessary training. The author believes the solution to the sad state of research in Libya could be solved by young researchers who received their post graduate degrees in Europe and USA.
The article failed to address the political (highly unstable in view of recent events) and the economical situation of Libya, which are affecting research and overall advancement of the country. It is worth noting that Libya is the second largest oil producer in Africa and 80% of the government’s revenues come from oil; accordingly, Libya has the highest GDP per capita in Africa. However, the unemployment rate is at high 30%.
By all means Libya is not a poor country, but somehow the oil revenues are not reflected on the scientific research. The article should have addressed reasons as to why an oil rich country as Libya with only a small population does not have enough resources and means for scientific research advancement. The young investigators need political will and resources to be able to develop scientific research in the country.