You are here: HomeNews2014 11 06Article 333546

Opinions of Thursday, 6 November 2014

Columnist: Kuma, Francis Kwaku

Scientists and Engineers in Ghana: Are they up to the task?

The emergence of iPad, 3D-TV and other refined electronic gadgets dwarfed the try and error practices by scientists and engineers in Ghana. In this science age, precision is the key word and failures are outdated. The science and technology race in the developed world has heralded the need for scientists and engineers in Ghana to embrace the daunting task ahead. It behoves on these talents if there is any at all to use their ingenuity to rescue the country from strangulation. Science and technology is the only way forward. The piecemeal development plans touted by these confused legal flops turned politicians have future only for their foreign bank accounts and not the ordinary people. These failed politicians keep giving the people empty hopes when there is hope.

Incidentally, the country abounds in myriads of natural resources. Harnessing these resources into finished products is a great challenge for the scientists and engineers. The resources are endless. The sun for instance is a good source of energy and the country has the sunrays in excess. The country is on the Equator and the sun is always overhead dispensing its raw energy freely. The scientists and engineers can transform this wasted energy through Solar panels into electricity. Transforming solar energy into power is a simple technology in other countries where the sun hardly shines but the opposite is true in Ghana. The wind is another source of energy; offshore wind power is a source of energy for homes and industries in Britain. However, the brute force of the wind only ripped off roofs of buildings in Ghana. The sea through desalination serves as a drinking water in countries such as United Arab Emirate, USA etc but in Ghana, it is a cesspit. The irony is transforming these dreams into reality by our scientists and engineers are like finding a needle in a haystack.

The use of appropriate technology (APPROTEC) based on local ingenuity could work out the magic. APPROTEC encourages the use of local materials and ingenuity combined with the right local technology for development purposes. Talented Ghanaian scientists and engineers both home and abroad to the benefit of the country could spearhead this technology. The truth is talents that could be the forerunners in this field are mere mirages. Few attempts were made in the last few decades in promoting the use of local technology but it died natural deaths. Some few housing estates were built when the APPROTEC programme was at its peak. For instance, most of the estate houses around Adenta taxi rank located in the capital city were built from the scheme. These affordable houses built from local materials had been homes for families over the years.

Though agriculture employs the greater percentage of the populace, it is seasonal and rain fed. Various experts have mooted the idea of irrigating the arable lands so farming would be all year round. Considering the fact that major rivers like Volta, Ankobra and Pra waste into the sea this could be a laudable idea. The reveries were appealing- serrate these rivers with irrigation networks to boost crop production. The Dawenya Irrigation and Tono dam near Bolgatanga came out of such dreams. The dreams were alluring. Reduce high dependence on food importation and increase local food production. Slogans were touted ‘eat what we grow; grow what we eat’. It was the usual subtle way of propagating warped ideas in order to loot state coffers. These ideas fizzled into oblivion as the stomach politicians became more concerned with sleeping in luxury presidential palaces and flying in luxury jets.

The present generation had listened to these not come up to scratch politicians preaching empty hopes instead of cogent ideas as the Nkrumah did. The generation gone before heard similar valueless sermons. The failed lawyers and their ilk flooded the radio stations with their twisted ideas when the people starved. The people cannot forever listen to these empty promises. The scientists and engineers need to save the situation. They need to rescue the people from the plunderers. The scientists and engineers are the storehouse of the best brains in the country. They are high ability students who had the chance to read the sciences in our schools and colleges. It is quite pathetic that the low ability chaps who flopped during their days at school now find lucrative career in politics. These flops for some strange reasons control the brainy scientists and engineers. If ‘green shoots are burning; the withered foliage would easily be licked by the roaring flame’. If the scientists and engineers cannot shine, the legal flops or frustrated military adventurists certainly would wane.

It is a fact that the stomach politicians are not creating the right atmosphere for the scientists and engineers to shine. However, science is about finding solutions to problems. Instead of the scientists and engineers allowing the failed politicians to stifle their ingenuity, they should use their brains to outsmart them. Posterity would hold them liable for all the letdowns in the country if they sit down unconcerned. How could engineers in these modern day and era still construct open drains? Constructing open drains requires no ingenuity. We need a team of crack engineers who can design the city of Accra and other cities to last for ages. The issue is ‘are the scientists, engineers and technologists up to the task ahead?

Francis Kwaku Kuma (Lecturer – Koforidua Polytechnic)

Join our Newsletter