Universities must lead development agenda – Prof Gordon

Benjamin Adamafio Commey, GNA

Accra, Feb. 28, GNA –
African universities have been charged to design programmes capable of
producing critical thinkers and innovators to manage the continent’s natural
resources for development.

Professor Chris
Gordon, a former Director of the Institute of Environment and Sanitation
Studies, University of Ghana who charged the universities said over the years,
African tertiary institutions, failed to produce graduates with problem solving
skills needed to effect the change required to drive development across the

He therefore urged
the universities to ‘chat a new path’ of training and developing the
continent’s human resource that would be capable of effectively managing,
efficiently utilising the natural resources.

Prof Gordon made the
call at the third Lecture of the late Professor Alex Adum Kwapong Series tagged
“Nature Speaks” in Accra.

The lecture, which
was chaired by Mr Charles B. Josob, the Namibian High Commissioner to Ghana,
was on the theme: “Innovation, Transition and Disruption in Natural Resource
Management: The role of the African University”.

He said we must
build new breed of human resources, who would be able to tackle emerging
developmental and environmental issues, to drive development beyond the
Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) year target, 2030.

“Our graduates are
not flexible, because we do not train them to think widely, think outside the
box and this is also because most of the things forced on Ghanaians and
Africans at large and taught by African universities do not have our cultural

“The African
University must create nature based, holistic and sustainable solutions to
emerging developmental and environmental issues, develop African led solutions
to encompass the intersection of technology, environment, and governance rooted
in the socio-cultural setting and that would make these acceptable to African
countries,” he said.

Prof Gordon urged
the universities to develop high quality faculty that was committed to
research, develop key employment skills for students through provision of
co-curricular activities and opportunities, among others.

universities must be drivers of development by promoting science, technology
and innovation, understand how to change behaviours and invest in human
development with emphasis on women and youth as well as vulnerable people,” he

He also urged
African Governments to make adequate funds available to all universities to
enable them to develop programmes, conduct research and deliver on their

Mr Senyo Hosi, the
Chief Executive Officer of Ghana Chamber of Bulk Oil Distributors, who was a
discussant at the lecture also urged students to have a renewed mindset as well
as attitudes to enable them to the competitive demands of the world.

He also expressed
the need for tertiary institutions and industries to collaborate to develop
programmes and graduates with the requisite employable skills for the job
market to reduce unemployment and facilitate growth and development.

“Africa is looking
at 100 million youth joining the work force unemployed between now and 2030 and
Ghana has a big share because unemployment is our biggest challenge, but how can
you have such a situation when you actually sit on a 30 per cent of the world’s
remaining natural resources?,” he quizzed.

The lecture
organised by the United Nations University Institute for Natural Resources in
Africa (UNU-INRA) and the University of Ghana, was in honour of Professor
Kwapong, first Ghanaian Vice Chancellor of the University of Ghana and first
Vice-Rector of the UNU.

It also sought to
serve as a platform for interdisciplinary and multi-stakeholder exchanges of
views, knowledge and ideas and to raise awareness on natural resource
management, and promote an understanding of the importance of evidence-based
information and decision-making.

The lecture had in
attendance dignitaries of the Diplomatic Corps, Researchers, Academia,
industrial players and students, among others.