From 29th November to 6th December, 2019 the Regional Universities Forum for Capacity Building in Agriculture and five Ghanaian RUFORUM Member universities (University of Cape Coast, University of Ghana-Legon, University of Development Studies, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, and University of Education-Winneba organized the 15th RUFORUM Annual General Meeting. The meeting that attracted 1003 participants in 35 side events deliberated on the theme:
Delivering on Africa’s Universities Agenda for Higher Agricultural Education, Science, Technology and Innovation (AHESTI): What will it take
Successfully organizing the meeting was the responsibility of the RUFORUM Secretariat and the Local Organizing Committee at the University of Cape Coast. Hence, a wrap meeting was undertaken to receive and review reports on arrangements by the University of Cape Coast and RUFORUM Secretariat, agree on the actions for different teams and individuals, and make recommendations to RUFORUM and the University of Cape Coast. The organization of the AGM involved several components including air travel; local transportation; registration of participants; secretarial and information desk services; scheduling side events; holding scientific/technical sessions; posters and exhibition displays; fundraising/budgeting and payments; communication and visibility; accommodation; documentation; handling protocol issues; and, banqueting and Meals.
At the beginning of the wrap up meeting, Prof. Adipala Ekwamu, RUFORUM Executive Secretary informed Secretariat and University of Cape Coast Staff that the meeting was aimed at reflecting on the entire process towards the hosting of the AGM. Respective committees highlighted several key lessons and amongst these included the banqueting and Meals committee which provided key lessons for future convenings including timely confirmation of the numbers of participants to enhance the development of a clear plan for meals, as well as the need for several catering services than a single caterer.
Transport of delegates to and from the airport was challenging. This was attributed to different travel arrangements by the dignitaries, alterations in travel confirmation by dignitaries, programmatic adjustments, and changes in meeting venues. This situation calls for proper synchrony between accommodation and transport teams through automation; setting up a contingency bus at the airport to reduce the waiting time of delegates; liaising with respective Embassies & Ministry of foreign affairs to properly plan for Minister’s travel, clear identification of Very Important Persons (VIPs) especially Ministers, and setting up pull-ups and labels to direct delegates to the meeting venues.
While at the AGM, Delegates were accommodated in various hotels including Ridge Royal, Elmina Beach Resort, Coconut Groove Beach Resort, Pempamsie Hotel, Capital Hill Hotel, Institute of Education Chalets, Oguaa, Sasakawa, and Samrit Hotel that are located either within or outside the University of Cape Coast. As part of effectively coordinating accommodation arrangements, the meeting recommended the need for mutual trust between RUFORUM Organizing Committee and the Local Organizing Committee in undertaking tasks related to accommodation; embracing peer-to-peer communication; and, booking accommodation in institutional names.
Exhibitions and poster presentations at the AGM offered a great opportunity for Ghanaian Universities to show-case cutting-edge innovations, products, entrepreneurship skills and services, and scientific findings. Key lessons learned included the need for timely registration of exhibitors and branding exhibition booths, innovatively attracting delegates to the exhibition booths, and, the need for organizing Member Universities to exploit the exhibitions as an opportunity for visibility.
Information and communication technology (ICT) was vital in providing updated information to participants on various AGM aspects. Key lessons emerging included the need for specific infrastructure for different sessions, timely communication of any programmatic adjustments to ensure coordinated inter-session movements, ensuring a fast and reliable internet connection to enhance live streaming of the events, ensuring adequate participation by national media agencies, and exploiting e-technology in registration.