UG Celebrates Day of Scientific Renaissance of Africa

                                                                      Panel of discussants


The University of Ghana has held a high-level panel discussion to culminate a series of college wide events to celebrate the Day of Scientific Renaissance of Africa (DSRA).

The African Union (AU), by a declaration in 1987, enjoined all member-states to celebrate 30th June each year, as the Day of Scientific Renaissance of Africa.

The high-level panel discussion held at the Cedi Conference Centre (Legon campus) on 30th June 2022 to climax the month-long event, was under the theme; “Ghana Asks; Legon Answers – The Challenge of Managing Plastics”.

The high-level event followed a series of lecturers, and scholarly exhibitions held across all Colleges, which showcased UG’s contribution to African science.

The panel was made up of imminent scholars who presented brief opening remarks in their area of expertise.  They included;

  • Emeritus Professor Ivan Addae-Mensah - Emeritus Professor of Chemistry and former Vice-Chancellor (UG)
  • Professor Agyeman Badu Akosa - Professor of Pathology (UG) and former Director General of the Ghana Health Service
  • Professor Firibu Kwasi Saalia - Professor of Food Science and Technology, School of Engineering Sciences, (UG)
  • Dr Fatima Denton -   Director of the United Nations University Institute of Natural Resources in Africa (UNU-INRA)
  • Mrs Millicant Kwao - PhD Candidate in Environmental Science, Institute of Environment and Sanitation Studies (IESS), UG

The Registrar Mrs. Emelia Agyei-Mensah welcomed the distinguished guests, the high-level panel of discussants, the university community, the public and stakeholders to the climax of the month-long programme of the DSRA at the University of Ghana (UG). She emphasized that the day is celebrated across the continent annually on 30th June, in line with the resolution passed by African Union in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in July 1987. The day is meant to showcase the continent’s immense contribution to the development of science and technology and focuses on the potential of the continent in further development and promotion of science and technology. She acknowledged the active participation of the Colleges/Schools/Institutes/Department who organised various seminars, symposia, exhibition, panel discussion, lectures, and other activities throughout the month of June.

                                                       Mrs. Emelia Agyei-Mensah, Registrar

Professor Nana Aba Appiah Amfo, Vice-Chancellor and Chairperson for the event welcomed panellist, and guests. She underscored that the celebration of the day by Africa serves as a reminder to African governments and its people of the critical roles played by science and technology in national development and the continent’s significant contribution to the rise and development of modern science and technology.

She commended the University of Ghana Pursuit of Excellence Taskforce, chaired by Professor Chris Gordon, (UG-POET) for recommending the celebration of the DSRA to senior management and the Business and Executive Committee of UG who accepted and approved the proposal. She also commended the Pro Vice-Chancellor, Research, Innovation and Development, Professor Felix Ankomah Asante for his oversight responsibility, and Professor George Obeng Adjei, Director of Research at the Office of Research, Innovation and Development (ORID) and chair of the UG wide implementation committee and the teams at the various colleges led by the provosts for making the celebration a success.  

She used the opportunity to declare the month of June as UG Research Month to celebrate the DSRA as an annual event. The annual celebration will thus serve as a strategy to drive the overall growth of the university as a world-class research-intensive university and draw attention to the scholarly works, innovations and development championed by hardworking members of the university community.  

                                              Prof. Nana Aba Appiah Amfo, Vice-Chancellor

In his address the Pro Vice-Chancellor, Research, Innovation and Development, Professor Felix Ankomah Asante expressed delight at the level of engagement and participation of stakeholders in the month-long celebration and the climax of the DSRA. He highlighted UG’s substantial contribution to Africa’s collective achievements in science and knowledge generation.

He appealed to participants to make a positive contribution to address the menace of plastic waste.

            Prof. Felix Ankomah Asante, Pro Vice-Chancellor, Research, Innovation and Development

Solidarity messages from Professor Kwabena Frimpong-Boateng, former Minister for Environment, Science and Technology and Professor Bandele Oyewole, Secretary General, Association of African Universities were read by Professor George Obeng Adjei, Director of Research at the Office of Research, Innovation and Development (ORID) on behalf of Professor Frimpong-Boateng and Ms Nodumo Dhlamini on behalf of Professor Oyewole.

       Prof. George Obeng Adjei, Director of Research, Office of Research, Innovation and Development


                                          Ms Nodumo Dhlamini, Association of African Universities

The panellist presented perspectives of science and research within the African context in relation to the broader context of development and the circular economy.

Prof. Addae-Mensah emphasized how important universities are to national development and in the global economy. He stated among others that, “any country whose universities are allowed to decline in opting out of the development process in the 21st century is asking for trouble”. Prof. Addae-Mensah further stated that “higher education cannot be viewed as a luxury but as a necessity - for developing countries.”

He underscored the importance of embracing science, technology, and innovation to address critical developmental challenges including poverty, disease, industrialization, socio-economic and manpower development. In this respect, he mentioned that the solutions to Africa’s problems, depend on a determined effort to inculcate science, technology, and innovation in socio-economic and manpower development, cannot be achieved without developing the requisite human resource.

He mentioned how the quality of knowledge is increasingly critical in national competitiveness and emphasized that, the development of human resource depends entirely and critically on development of education at all levels, especially, higher education, he said. Prof. Addae-Mensah also in his submission, mentioned that “knowledge is becoming more important in the global economy” and that the quality and accessibility of higher education is increasingly critical in national competitiveness – an area in which Africa is unfortunately falling behind, presumably due to under-funding of higher education. He therefore called on African governments to honour their commitments to funding for higher education and research.

                                                      Emeritus Prof.  Ivan Addae-Mensah

Dr. Denton in her submission, stated that, sustaining Africa’s development would hinge on adopting principles that ensured a circular economy. She mentioned that, being a resource dependent continent, facing climate change and multiple crises, Africa must reflect “about the sustainability of our resources,” in terms of “producing and consuming in a sustainable manner.” In this respect, she defined the circular economy in terms of the principles of the 5Rs i.e., (1) Rethink 2) Reduce, 3) Re-use, 4) Redesign, and 5) Recycle).

Elaborating on these principles, Dr Denton mentioned the need for Africans to embrace behavioural change within the context of the overall trajectory of the circular economy; reduce the waste we produce; produce in a sustainable manner and pay attention to the need to keep things in circularity for much longer; innovate and add value; and recycle. She emphasized the need to get out of an extractive model into some form of circularity by incorporating the principles of the afore mentioned 5R’s in the circular economy model as a means to “come out of the vicious cycle that traps us in linearity.” She, furthermore, mentioned how important it is to see the circular economy as a means to leverage change in our overall economy at the highest economic value to preserve our environment and not to conflate it with a large-scale waste management strategy.

Finally, Dr. Denton emphasized that Africa has an important role in leapfrogging; especially new technologies, both in terms of digital and material innovation; and the importance of trade as a connector and ultimate enabler in the circular economy. Transition to the circular economy cannot be done without a paradigm shift, is a whole-society approach, and “the way we consume, repair recycle all have trading implications in terms of how we re-use in our value chain,” she said.

                                                                  Dr. Fatima Denton

The medical implications of toxins which emanate from plastics were presented in stark reality. The danger posed by plastics due to its toxic chemical make-up was explained by Professor Badu Akosa.  He stressed the alarming dangers of single use plastics which are used on a large scale due to the low cost. He bemoaned the dangers associated with the menace of managing plastic waste in Ghana, citing that the indiscipline with regards to its handling has culminated into flooding, clogging of pipelines/water bodies, destruction of our and environment. He called for bold and decisive steps to be taken to ban the use of single use plastics, in favour of traditional alternatives.

                                                           Professor Agyeman Badu Akosa

Professor Firibu Saalia who represented Emeritus Professor Kofi Sefa-Dedeh delivered his speech on the topic “Local Alternatives to Plastic Food Packaging”. He reiterated the importance of plastic packaging to the food industry. He however indicated that there is the need to move away from the single-use plastics to biodegradable plastics, hammering on the need to intensify education on the dangers of the single-use plastics to the society.

                                                                   Prof. Firibu Kwasi Saalia

Lastly, Mrs Millicent Kwao touched on the challenges facing early career researchers in terms of adequate funding for research purposes. She stated that out of the estimated 80,000 professionals who move out of the continent annually, 30% are researchers and this if not tackled immediately will have dire consequences on the continent’s aim of achieving its developmental goals. She blamed the situation on the lack of better opportunities, lower wages, and unfavourable environment that affect us as a continent. She also bemoaned the scarcity in mentorship, limited funding, limited resources, and motivation as some of the challenges faced by early career researchers.  

                                                                   Mrs. Millicent Kwao 

The discussion was moderated by broadcast Journalist Mr Bernard Avle, of Citi TV/FM.

                                                                     Mr Bernard Avle

                                                  MC with the panel of discussants


                                          Panel of discussants with some University Officials