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Business News of Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Source: GNA

Africa needs entrepreneurship education centre - Educationist

Stellenbosch, (South Africa) June 1, GNA - An educationist on Wednesday called for the strengthening of the space of higher entrepreneurship education in Africa by creating a regional centre of excellence in entrepreneurship. Mrs Elizabeth Dwomo-Fokuo, Acting Director of the Centre for Entrepreneurship and Enterprise Development at the Kumasi Polytechnic, told a Conference of Vice-Chancellors and Rectors of higher educational institutions in Africa in South Africa that the Centre would potentially address the challenges associated with the small and fragmented entrepreneurship situation on the continent. "A properly designed and organised system of higher education in this respect will greatly benefit the development of Africa," she told the 200 delegates from the African higher educational institutions, who are taking part in the conference to deliberate on how to improve the stakes of higher education on the continent. The theme for the one-week conference, "Strengthening the Space of Higher Education in Africa", is aimed at heeding the clarion call on those institutions to turn out graduates who would have the technical know-how in addressing the enormous challenges in the development of the continent. The Conference of Rectors, Vice-Chancellors and Presidents of African Universities (COREViP) 2011 is organised every two years to, among other things, examine collectively, themes identified as common concerns and priorities for the development of higher education in member institutions in particular and Africa, in general. It also takes stock of the implementation of decisions of the general conference and to make recommendations primarily to members and the Governing Board and the Secretariat of the Association of African Universities (AAU). Hosted by the Stellenbosch University, the meeting is being organised by the AAU with the support of UNESCO, the World Bank, the African Union Commission, the African Development Bank, the Swedish International Development Agency, among others. This year's meeting would provide an excellent opportunity for leaders of African Higher Education Institutions to draw lessons on issues relating to the theme from both regional and international organisations involved in higher education initiatives. Mrs Dwomo-Fokuo expressed regret that Africa had peculiar challenges with regard to entrepreneurship because there was shortage of skilled personnel with expertise in entrepreneurship education while models, research, datasets and entrepreneurial techniques did not reflect the African concept. "Funding is another major challenge," she said, adding "Africa, which is the most resource-endowed", is associated with poverty. "There is no regional centre of higher learning in entrepreneurship despite the wave of entrepreneurial revolution in the world, Mrs Fokuo-Dwomo said in a paper she presented on "Strengthening the Space of higher Education in Africa - Towards the Creation of Regional Centre of excellence in Entrepreneurship." Mrs Dwumo-Fokuo, therefore, recommended that African Institutions of Higher Education should pool resources to establish an African Entrepreneurship Centre mandated to raise experts in entrepreneurship education, raise successful entrepreneurs and increase innovation. She also called for a stimulated culture of entrepreneurship among the various faculties and students, the contribution to intellectual capital which covered research, patents, graduation of projects and technological inventions. They should also come out with new models and techniques unique to Africa while an atmosphere of freedom and autonomy should be ensured by African governments for effective teaching and research of entrepreneurship. Mrs Dwumo-Fokuo cited a model Centre at the Kumasi Polytechnic, which has trained 674 graduates over the past three years with 20 per cent of the pioneers establishing their businesses. She said the special modules of New Venture Creation and Consulting prepared students to establish their own businesses adding that other institutions could team up with the Centre for a start. Mrs Dwumo-Fokuo said entrepreneurship had proved to be an essential part of economic growth because of its impact on new job creation, increase in trade and the high levels of competition. The educationist said though America alone had more than 2,200 courses in over 1,600 schools and over 100 centres, Africa had a shallow, underdeveloped entrepreneurial development which had been hampered by a multitude of factors including poverty, unemployment, political and economic uncertainty and lack of effective collateral and information systems. "Limited investment opportunities in the private sector, technological constraints, shortage of skilled personnel with expertise in entrepreneurship education are the others," she noted.