Media urged to take a frontline role in Ghana's quest to bridge technology gap

Ghana’s media, has been urged to take up a frontline role in the country’s quest to bridge the technology gap — as it prepares to be a relevant force in the West African sub-region and beyond.

The call came during a media engagement hosted by the Ghana Institution of Engineering (GhIE), last Wednesday, April 3rd 2019.

The conference was held to deliberate on developing domestic capacity so as to bridge the technology gap, in order to realize the ‘Ghana beyond aid’ agenda — as well as facilitate youth employment in the country. The occasion was also used to introduce the ‘Peduase Declaration‘; a communique developed from a previous conference, geared toward creating an ecosystem for training and mentoring young scientists, technologists, and engineers to help build a sustainable economy in the country — to the media.

In his opening address, chairman of the conference, and Minister of Environment, Science, Technology, and Innovation (MESTI), Professor Kwabena Frimpong-Boateng remarked that the poverty gap is a direct consequence of the technology gap. He observed, that there was no country that has developed into a world leader without first developing the ability to create and utilize technology to its advantage.

A former president of the Institution, Ing. Dr Kwame Boakye spoke on the need to nurture tech entrepreneurs who would drive the agenda. He intimated that the Ghana Institution of Engineering, in collaboration with the Ministry of Environment, Science, Technology, and Innovation in partnership with other stakeholders would establish Technology Design and Manufacturing Centres (TDMCs).

These centres, which would be established across the country to bridge the technology gap, would support research institutions, universities and industry via the deployment and active use of technology. Also, the centres would serve as the hub for innovators who need investment to put their inventions into the production stage, or for further research and development.

On the panel to discuss solutions proffered at the Peduase Conference were Mr Kwesi Pratt Jr, Dr Joe Cruickshank, Dr Lucy Agyepong, and Ing. Dr Kwame Boakye.

Mr Pratt Jr, whose provocative article sparked these related events emphasized the need for more media engagement in Ghana’s technological quest. He noted that while engineering cannot be said to be the answer to all issues, there’s no solution to any problem that does not involve some level of engineering. He said that in order for Ghana to be able to make a difference that benefits itself, innovation is the way forward.

For his part, Dr Cruickshank spoke on the need for local capacity development sections to be included in agreements signed with multinational and manufacturing companies that set up businesses here. He bemoaned the situation where companies pack up and leave with the core part of their technology remaining hidden to the locals they worked with.

Dr Agyepong, a technology manager with the Manufacturing Technology Centre (MTC), said having the Technology Design and Manufacturing Centres to bridge the gap between academia and industry would support and enable SMEs to increase productivity. She spoke of the need for an enabling environment that would support the development and demonstration of new technologies from small scale to industrial scale.

In a closing remark, Dr Fred McBagonluri, president of Academic City College challenged the country’s universities to help address youth unemployment by promoting enterprises that are collapsing — citing the success story of how Moi University, in Kenya, has revamped the country’s textile industry.

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