The Director General of the National Communications Authority (NCA), Mr. Joe Anokye, has stated that the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), Kumasi with its legacy of excellence, is well equipped to shape the future ensuring that the next generation is not just ready to face challenges but empowered to redefine the future. Mr. Joseph Anokye made this assertion when he delivered the first lecture at the 12th R. P. Baffour Memorial Lectures.
The 12th R. P. Baffour Memorial Lectures was themed: “KNUST After 70: A New Age for a Renewed Focus in an Era of Disruptive Technologies.” Delivering the first of the three-lecture series. The first lecture was themed: “KNUST, a History of Remarkable Growth in Science and Technology Education, Resilience and Adaptability in the Digital Space.”
The Director General said the journey of KNUST in the past seven decades stands as a testament to what vision, dedication, resilience, and collaborative spirit can achieve. He further said from its foundation years to the unparalleled success stories by alumni, faculty, and students, it has remained a beacon of Knowledge, innovation, and academic brilliance in Ghana’s educational landscape.
However, in the age dominated by disruptive technology, the role of educational institutions particularly those with the legacy and stature of KNUST is increasingly critical. He revealed that technology is reshaping the way we think, work, and create, and while these things bring a plethora of opportunities, they also present formidable challenges.
He commenced the lecture by appreciating the great vision and dynamic leadership of Dr. R. P. Baffour, under whose watch KNUST saw remarkable transformation and cemented its legacy as a leading institution in Africa. Established in 1977, the lectures, he noted are tribute to a man that continues to touch lives and impact Ghana and beyond. “Dr. R. P. Baffour’s dream has transformed KNUST into a globally competitive institution that continues to touch the nation and beyond,” he added.
According to the speaker, the theme is as compelling as it is timely. “Disruption,” may invoke a sense of negativity as it conveys change, a change between a certain scope and a new reality. “Unfortunately change requires investments and special energy, which is not accepted by all because we take comfort in our routines,” he said. Defining Disruptive technology according to investopedia.com as an innovation that significantly alters the way that consumers, businesses, or industries operate. It sweeps away the systems or habits that it replaces because it has attributes that are recognisably superior.
Mr. Anokye said the journey of KNUST in Ghana’s history in the educational landscape, it occupies a position of prominence and respect. As we reflect after it seventieth (70th) year since its inception, the journey of KNUST is marked by innovation, academic brilliance, and unwavering commitment, as it stands as a testament to what vision, dedication and resilience can achieve. The foundation years of KNUST, he reiterated were also instrumental in charting the cause of the Institution. As the Kumasi College of Technology, as it was known then, embraced a mission to become the beacon of knowledge and set in motion a legacy of academic and infrastructural prowess. This spirit of pioneering excellence will come to define KNUST as it laid the building blocks for Ghana’s scientific and technological evolution, he observed. The speaker continued that, integral to KNUST’s success is its products such as the Former United Nations Secretary General, Mr. Kofi Annan, Dr. Thomas Mensah, a Fibre Optics and Nanotechnology expert, Professor Francis Allotey, the great scientist, and mathematician, who have carved niches of excellence in academia for themselves and achieved an indelible mark for the University globally.
He revealed that KNUST in the embryonic stages after its inception in 1952 was a bold vision waiting to be realised and the campus bubbling with energy and enthusiasm set amidst a backdrop of a newly independent Ghana waiting to chart its path in the world. From the onset the University’s leadership recognised the importance of marrying scientific prowess with infrastructural development, meticulously curated curricula encompassing knowledge, meeting the needs of the day, and forecasting on the future. They were all designed to mould students as innovators and technology leaders who will move Ghana unto the global stage.
Infrastructure was another cornerstone for KNUST. The very architecture of the campus with state-of-the-art lecture theatres, research laboratories and research centres, among others, each brick laying was to position KNUST as a centre of technological advancement. He said one of the most defining hallmarks of the University in its formative years was its culture of innovation and pioneering research excellence in architecture, medicine, pharmacy, agriculture, and engineering, which became its hallmark with the establishment of schools of specialisations. He continued that each tailored into specified expertise and focused on creating an environment of holistic education that prepared students for the future with the spirit of Pan-Africanism.
The illustrious legacy of KNUST is not anchored in its academic prowess but its products as well. Citing the remarkable journey of Dr. Thomas Mensah, the speaker at the 10th R. P. Baffour Memorial Lectures. His patent in Fibre Optics is worldwide and it is shaping the world. Ibrahim Mahama, an alumnus born in Tamale is best known for his Red Clay Studios in Tamale, Ghana as well as his artistic works and exhibitions especially in Athens and Venice, which have gained international attention. He also mentioned Professor Francis Allotey on his “Allotey Formalism” which gained global recognition. His contributions to physics and mathematics in the world of academia has also placed KNUST on the global map. Overall, KNUST alumni have played pivotal roles in societal transformation. Notable alumni have taken up leadership roles contributing to policymaking, governance, and socio-economic development. They have helped to shape various sectors from economics, technology, healthcare, business, civil society, initiatives, technology, among others, demonstrating the multifaceted impact of KNUST on society.
Mr. Joe Anokye also touched on the contributions of faculty and management on the structural and academic development of KNUST and the world. He celebrated the leadership of past vice-chancellors and their contributions to the development of KNUST and education in Ghana.
On the evolution of technology in Ghana, he touched on indigenous technology systems such as the gong, which was used by the gong-gong beater or town-crier to relay information to the community. This evolved to the era of Postal services with telegraph, telephones, fax machines and typewriters. Radio and television also came in. Liberalisation of the Ghanaian media and the establishment of telecommunication networks was also highlighted. The introduction of courier services in the postal services as well as digitisation of radio and television was also not left out. The establishment of regulatory bodies such as the National Communications Authority and the National Media Commission was also discussed.
Mr. Anokye also traced the information technology history of Ghana and that of KNUST. He noted that in the early years of KNUST, communication was limited to face-to-face and written correspondence. The first telephone exchange in the University was installed in 1960. Telex machines in 1970 for internal and external communication. Computers were introduced in the 1980s, with the first computer laboratory on KNUST in 1985 which marked a significant milestone in University’s history. KNUST continued and in the early 90’s at least each department in the University had a computer. The subsequent years saw growth in email usage among students, faculty, and staff especially in the 2000’s. KNUST’s leadership has continued to invest in technology infrastructure with the introduction of Learning Management Systems, Wireless internet connectivity, E-learning Centre with virtual classrooms, studios, and resources among others, with libraries to support teaching and learning.
He commended KNUST saying “KNUST in the era of liberalisation has changed the atmosphere on campus with the introduction of private telecommunication networks which have improved communication. It also paved way for the establishment of the campus radio station Focus Fm, the official KNUST radio station.” Concluding the first lecture, Mr. Joe Anokye stated that as KNUST is 70 years, the onus lies on us to rekindle the Dr. R. P. Baffour’s flame of visionary leadership and KNUST is more than capable to shape the African continent.
In her remarks, the Vice-Chancellor, Professor (Mrs.) Rita Akosua Dickson, stated if we cannot appreciate the past, we cannot have a present, neither a future. She added “We are currently doing something by looking into the future. The place of this University in the socioeconomic development of Ghana and Africa cannot be overemphasised and the journey of its alumnus all the way to NASA is a testament to the contributions of the University to the world.” Professor (Mrs.) Akosua Dickson further said all over the world, KNUST is solving global challenges and Ghana is grateful. She said, the speaker has challenged members of the University to give honour to whom honour is due and to appreciate all the visionary leaders whose efforts have brought KNUST this far. As the leading science and technology university, KNUST is always adding up to our e-learning space, with more investment in resources, infrastructure, and logistics to ensure a great learning experience to learners. She used the occasion to thank the University’s partners in helping it deliver its mandate to solve humanity’s challenges.