University of Ghana Hosts WUN GAG Inaugural Strategic Workshop

The Vice Chancellor, Prof. Ebenezer Oduro Owusu, delivering a welcome address

The World Universities Network Global Africa Group (WUN GAG) launched its inaugural Strategic Research Workshop at the University of Ghana in a two-day event that brought together over sixty researchers from twelve WUN partner universities and ten other universities from four continents. The workshop brought together faculty, researchers and postgraduate students from a multitude of countries in an effort to facilitate and promote research collaboration on five priority themes the Group felt were particularly pertinent to human development in the 21st century in Africa: Environmental change and food security; Public health; Governance, inequality and social inclusion; Higher education and research capacity; and Natural resources for inclusive growth and sustainable development.

 In his welcome address, the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Ghana, Professor Ebenezer Oduro Owusu, described WUN as a cross cutting regional group that facilitates research collaboration, noting that partnerships with such organisations serves to improve African universities and their researchers whiles addressing ways to meet the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s) and solve critical development problems.

According to the Vice-Chancellor, the University’s hosting of, and participation of its faculty in the WUN GAG inaugural workshop, is a testimony of the University of Ghana’s commitment to create partnerships with international research bodies and promised that UG faculty would play an active role in making the University of Ghana the WUN hub for Africa.

His remarks were echoed by Professor Karuiku, who speaking on behalf of  the University  of Nairobi’s Vice Chancellor, Professor Peter  Mbithi, added that while groups such as WUN facilitate networking and collaboration between researchers across universities, challenges such as a lack of government funding for research in African universities make it difficult for African researchers to initiate and complete research. Professor Kariuki also noted that it is vital for researchers to establish a connection between research and practical use of research findings in society.

Professor Karuiku a representative from University of Nairobi interacting with participants

The Co-Chair of GAG, Dr. David Mickler, Chair of WUN Coordinators Group, Dr. Susam Jim, the Deputy Australian High Commissioner, The Pro-Vice-Chancellor of  the University of York, and the University of Bristol expounded the various benefits of research collaboration and expressed their desire for such partnerships to grow and strengthen in the future.

Dr. David Mickler, Co-Chair of GAG speaking to  participants

In his address, University of Ghana’s Professor Christopher Gordon spoke at length on the difficulties faced by Ghanaian researchers. He remarked that conducting research on pertinent issues such as pesticide contamination levels in cocoa crops and the effects of ‘galamsey’ on major sources of water in the country is difficult for researchers because of a lack of up-to-date equipment and financing  from their government and corporate Ghana.

Professor Christopher Gordon addressing participants

Professor Gordon noted that such constraints encourage Ghana’s best students and researchers to pursue their careers in more well-funded and equipped universities overseas. To alleviate some of these constraints, Prof. Gordon encouraged researchers to seek support from non-traditional sources such as NGO’S, industry, and government bodies to whom the findings of such research should be of interest.

The second day of the Inaugural Strategic Research workshop had the researchers and postgraduate students divided into sub-groups based on five priority themes gave a summary of their discussions during their research collaborations. The five themes include Environmental change and food security; Public health; Governance, inequality and social inclusion; Higher education and research capacity and Natural resources for inclusive growth and sustainable development.

 The workshop was closed by Co-Chair of GAG, Professor Maano Ramutsindela. He asked researchers to actively research issues that are relevant to their nation’s development. He expressed the hope that networks such as GAG would be able to achieve their goals and in the course of that, enhance research collaboration between African researchers and their foreign counterparts.

A group picture of participants at the workshop