AfricaLive: 2021 was a landmark year for your institution. Please can you provide a summary of your recent developments and the importance of them for your institution and higher education in Ghana?
Prof. Emmanuel Ohene Afoakwa: 2021 saw us achieve a milestone indeed. We used to be known as the Ghana Technology University College and were being run as a quasi-private university. Back in August 2020, we saw the Parliament of Ghana passing the Ghana Communication Technology Bill 2020. It was soon after ratified by President Nana Akufo-Addo into an Act of Parliament. The act mandates us to be a fully-fledged public university.
When the bill was constructed, we were identified and mandated with becoming a viable center of higher education in information and communication technology.
We were required to perform research with the following objectives in mind; promote education training and capacity building in academic disciplines related to ICT, provide global consultancy services to both the private sector and the public sector, promote basic and applied research in the area of ICT, create an entrepreneurial environment to support innovation, product development, as well as, foster industry linkages. It’s upon us now to structure ourselves in a way that makes it possible for us to carry out the mandate we have been given.
In 2021, we saw the constitution and inauguration of the new governing council for the new Ghana technology institution. The government council was opened in September to help govern the university to ensure we execute our mandate exhaustively. They needed a substantive vice-chancellor for the newly formed Ghana Communication Technology University.
I was interviewed for the role and have now been installed as the VC in the institution’s new format. We are now fully focused on aggregating our strengths and experiences in training and research for students in the area of ICT. We must ensure we train the human resource base for the digitised transformation agenda in Ghana. We aim to become the go-to first-class ICT university in the West-African sub-region.
We are moving swiftly to upgrade the infrastructure in the institution to help us achieve our mandate. We wanted to create a viable ICT center but were not in a financial position to match our ambition. We consulted with the Ghana National Petroleum Cooperation (GNPC) and they asked us to submit a proposal for the construction of the ICT center.
We have an agreement now that will see them construct a four-story block that will house our ICT center of excellence. The building will house departments that will specialise in several disciplines such as cyber security, Artificial intelligence, robotics, and other labs. This will strengthen our ability to deliver competencies that will position our students to compete while also matching our ambition of being the best ICT institution in West Africa.
It’s not just about bringing in new materials and technologies but also upgrading the quality of our staff. We are working on bringing in qualified people in the emerging technologies of interest so that they can prepare students adequately. We want staff who specialise in areas like information technology, computer science, computer engineering, and AI.
AfricaLive: In response to environmental and sustainability challenges the identity of many African universities is evolving. How do you see your identity changing in this regard?
Prof. Emmanuel Ohene Afoakwa: We have taken into consideration sustainability issues in our delivery especially with the pandemic still around. We are not limited to lecture halls anymore because we have adopted the blended learning approach. We will execute 60 percent digital learning and 40 percent in-person.
A lot of the documentation and processes will also be paperless and that will serve to reduce our carbon footprint. This will be big for us because it will help us shape our identity. Our focus is to be a student-centered university with academic freedom, innovation, and integrity. We want to evolve as an ICT institution, taking into consideration our new mandate.
We are trying to restructure our university by following these steps. Recreate the institution as a collegiate university which will replace the faculty system. We will have the College of Computing Systems and Technology, College of Communication Engineering, and the College of Business. Each of these colleges will have faculties that will help them execute in various areas. 80 percent of the programs will be in ICT.
Under the College of Computing Systems and Technology, we will have the Faculty of Cyber Defence and Security, Faculty of Computing, Faculty of Information Systems and Technology, Faculty of Multimedia and Communication Systems. We want to redefine our identity as an ICT university In Ghana, while also serving the entire West African subregion. With this identity, we will be known as a world-class ICT university because our programs will be unique to us in West Africa.