UNESCO signs agreement with Ghana for new International Centre of Excellence in Engineering, Innovation, Manufacturing and Technology Transfer
The centre’s name reflects both its new international role and its reputation for excellence in training and in translating the research done at the university into commercial outcomes. It runs a Master’s Programme in Entrepreneurship and Technology Management, for instance.
Originally established in 1972 as the Technology Consultancy Centre, it was absorbed into the College of Engineering at KNUST in 2004. Students have been able to access equipment at KNUST for practical training, such as machine shops for prototyping and fabrication, laboratories, ceramic kilns and ovens, cooking stoves and water filters.
As a national centre, it has also developed training manuals and programmes for advanced manufacturing technologies, including 3D printing and plasma technologies.
The centre has also undertaken policy advocacy. It has recommended establishing an automotive manufacturing industry, for instance, and intensifying collaboration between academia, industry and the government sector through the establishment of a technology park that was supported by Ghana’s National Development Planning Commission.
This is in line with the focus of the revised National Science, Technology and Innovation Policy (2016), which outlines strategies for developing the primary sectors of agriculture, health, industry, energy, human settlements, communication and the environment to reduce reliance on commodity exports. The government is promoting ‘green’ innovation, such as clean cooking stoves and a minimal use of chemical fertilizers to foster responsible irrigation techniques, according to Ghana’s Voluntary National Review of 2019 mapping its early progress towards the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals to 2030.
A centre with a subregional reach
The centre will now extend its role by providing cutting-edge engineering services not only within Ghana but across the entire subregion. It will function as a category 2 centre, which means that it will function under the auspices of UNESCO. It will be the first UNESCO category 2 centre in Africa specializing in engineering and only the fifth in the world with this focus, after those established in China (2), Denmark and the Russian Federation.
The centre will remain at KNUST, where it will continue to undertake collaborative research to develop and transfer innovative engineering solutions and manufacturing technology to industry. It will also promote standards in manufacturing and use digital technologies to modernize local manufacturing and industrial practices, including through automation.
The centre will develop and disseminate research papers, policy briefs and other knowledge products, to inform national and subregional policies on engineering innovation, manufacturing and technology transfer.
The centre will assist governments in formulating policies for engineering education to nurture the region’s industrial development and bridge the gender gap. Among university graduates, just 16% in engineering, 20% in computer sciences and 27% in natural sciences were women in 2018, according to the UNESCO Science Report (2021). This compares with 61% of graduates in health and welfare and 45% in business and law being women.
The signing ceremony followed the new centre’s endorsement by UNESCO’s 193 Member States on 22 November 2021, during UNESCO’s 41st General Conference in Paris, France.
- Rovani Sigamoney