African educational institutions told to create institutional structures


Professor Melissa Nobles, Chancellor, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), USA has encouraged institutions of higher learning in Africa to prioritise setting up structures to support innovation.

She said this had become even more important to help create spaces for learning as the world advances with scientific and technological discoveries.

Prof. Nobles who was addressing students, researchers, and women leaders in innovation at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) in Kumasi, indicated that Africa’s population would triple by the end of the century, which called for improvement in innovation and discoveries in the continent.

“For Africa to take its rightful place globally, it is important that we innovate for the future,” she observed.

She envisaged that about 40 per cent of the world’s population by 2100 would be Africans, so it was important to think about young Africans now.

“We will need engineers, writers, doctors and many other occupations now and in the future as the world continues to change with scientific and technological discoveries and this should be possible when women are also empowered to become innovators,” she emphasised.

The Programme was themed “Inspiring the Next Generation of Women Innovators” and was put together by the KNUST Engineering Education Project (KEEP) and the Responsible Artificial Intelligence Lab (RAIL).

It created opportunities for women leaders in innovation to share their rich experiences to inspire the next generation of women innovators.

Prof Nobles, citing instances of the benefits of encouraging learning of innovation, said MIT had over the last two decades established an innovation center to mentor learners to discover useful technologies in the society.

She advised that people should be innovative to augment the existing technologies and make the world a progressive haven, adding that, “The future belongs to those who can navigate their way through the digital space.”

Prof. Mrs. Rita Akosua Dickson, Vice-Chancellor, KNUST, noted that the fourth industrial revolution was powered by artificial intelligent (AI).

She said through the Digital Development Technology Thematic group of the KNUST Engineering Education project, the RAIL had been set up in the Faculty of Chemical and Computer Engineering to lead the charge in building capacity in Africa to drive the AI revolution.

According to her, Africa had not even scratched the surface as far as AI interventions in driving key sectors of the economy were concerned.

Prof. Mrs. Dickson said it called for an all-hands-on deck approach in building capacity in AI.

The VC emphasised the importance of collaboration, saying that, global impacts could be attained through establishing partnerships.

“In today’s world collaborations cannot be a luxury anymore, you either collaborate and expand or keep to yourself and collapse.

We at KNUST have chosen the former,” she noted.
She said as the KNUST strived to excel in teaching, research, and community work, it would continue to collaborate with global universities whose vision and purpose align with the KNUST.

She said innovation was at the very core of the strategic plan of KNUST and the institution recognising the gap regarding women in STEM had made various interventions over the years.

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