AfricaLive: What’s your role in creating the next generation of skilled professionals that Ghana requires to prosper and what are your latest developments in getting the status of a fully-fledged University?
Prof. Emmanuel Ohene Afoakwa: Ghana Technology University College (GTUC) is a quasi-public University. The government is yet to approve for us to have an art through an act of parliament. This is about to change though, and within the next few months, we are going to be transitioning from a quasi-public University to a fully-fledged public University. We have heard that the bill to fast track this process in parliament is only one stage away from being ratified, and then we would get presidential assent.
Parliamentary approval and Presidential assent would see us become a fully-fledged public University. We will from then receive more support from the government for the running of the institution. Ghana Technology University College has been in existence since the year 2005 and has gone through a series of changes. Our institution was initially known as the Ghana Telecommunication University before being renamed to the Ghana Technology University College. Hopefully, we are going to change our name again soon to Ghana Technology University in full.
The government is now proposing that we inculcate the communication aspect of it and project communication. Once that is done, we are going to either be known as the Ghana Communication Technology University, or the current name shall be retained. Either way, our mandate is to ensure that we train the Human Resource Base in Ghana in the area of ICT (Information Communication Technology). Technology is an essential aspect that is going to be embedded in every aspect of our programmes and courses. We are going to focus and invest more on it to ensure we become a world-class Technology University.
We have put down a strategic plan, which is vision 2025 that will launch this year. We want to reposition the institution and transition from just being quasi to a fully-fledged Public University with a world-class focus. In the next five years, we want to become a premier Technology University within Ghana and West Africa and be the most preferred Technology University.
We are lining up several changes to improve our staff welfare and provide adequate resources for teaching and learning within the institution. We have also signed an agreement with Vodafone to give us world-class internet facilities.
Our infrastructure is also improving since we are expecting to become a Public University. The public institution status means more students so we must prepare. We have got the main campus here in Accra and colleges in four other regions across Ghana. We want to ensure that our institution is of high visibility internationally and our activities are of international standard. This institution has established itself as a leader in transnational education in Ghana. Transnational education, in this case, means that you can study at home or work.
We have seen to it that one can get an international degree here in Ghana without having to travel abroad. Several collaborations with other institutions across the world have enabled us to provide internationally acclaimed certifications. The major one is our partnership with Coventry University in the U.K. Likewise; we also have agreements with other universities like the University of Aalborg in Denmark, the University of Anhalt in Germany, and M.S. Ramaiah University of Applied Sciences in India. We have courses running to ensure that we enlarge our visibility and partnership. We have gotten into newer agreements with other Universities like the University Of Texas, Rio Grande Valley in the U.S., and we are going to run several programmes with them and give degrees in conjunction with our American counterparts. Likewise, we have also signed an agreement with the University of Brest in France.
AfricaLive: What current trends within the sector are going to influence the future of African education and how can African education institutions remain globally relevant in this time of fast changes?
Prof. Emmanuel Ohene Afoakwa: We are not restricting ourselves to the four corners of the lecture room; we are embedding technology in everything that we do. The fact that you can take classes from work or home is evidence of that. Government intervention is also essential in making life much easier for education providers. An enabling environment will enable educators to provide quality education for the human resource base that they want to train.
Short courses for employees in tech industries are provided much to the delight of employers. It is up to those employees to make themselves available for classes or risk being redundant. We must ensure that we can educate our workforce by introducing them to continuous training and allowing them to attend short courses.
AfricaLive: What steps should be taken to engage with industry on the future of work and action plans are you working on?
Prof. Emmanuel Ohene Afoakwa: We’ve signed several agreements with industries that will bring us closer together. The pacts signed will see to it that we no longer work in silos and that they share their technology, human resource needs, and research gaps with us. Our students could then research to solve the issues of the industries. This knowledge will help our students hone their research skills and build a more extensive knowledge base for our country and continent.
We also have a prestigious lecture series regularly where we bring some of our industry partners to our institution to speak on issues that are topical in the industry.
AfricaLive: How can the agricultural sector benefit from your research, and what flagship projects have you launched that will help?
Prof. Emmanuel Ohene Afoakwa: Under the Computer Science Programme, we have some projects that are helping farmers to identify some of the diseases that harm crops in different parts of Ghana. We are putting together a new proposal for funding to come up with new technology that will help the government identify the kind of diseases that set farmers back and hurt our food security. Research results will advise on the type of pesticides to buy for different crop diseases to avoid a one fits all approach.
AfricaLive: What does it take for research like this to become a reality?
Prof. Emmanuel Ohene Afoakwa: Before conducting productive research, you need funds. If the University cannot provide you with the kind of funds that you need, then the team must put together an excellent proposal to seek funding.
AfricaLive: What do you believe Ghana can offer to the world and how confident are you in the future of Ghana Technology University College?
Prof. Emmanuel Ohene Afoakwa: I am very confident that as an institution, we are going to achieve all that we have set for ourselves, especially the objective of becoming a premier Technology University in West Africa. The most important one is becoming a fully-fledged public university within the next few weeks.
We have signed an agreement with Advanced AT in London to come and train our faculty on the world’s best practises of teaching and research. In March, the first training called Master Class will be enrolled, for our lecturers. We see ourselves becoming one of the world’s best institutions when it comes to technological training.
AfricaLive: What institutions beyond your borders are you looking to work within Africa?
Prof. Emmanuel Ohene Afoakwa: We want to work with some institutions in Nigeria, and are also establishing contact with some universities in South Africa and Kenya. We would also like to have a partnership with many more countries to ensure that we promote our area of specialisation.