The Regional Universities Forum for Capacity Building in Agriculture (RUFORUM) 15th Annual General Meeting officially opened on Thursday, the 5th of December 2019 at the New Examination Centre, University of Cape Coast, Ghana. The meeting was being hosted by the Government of Ghana and the 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. The event, presided over by the President of the Republic of Ghana, H.E. Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, through his Minister Hon Prof. Kwabena Frimpong-Boateng,. Minister of Environment, Science, Technology & Innovation of the Republic of Ghana attracted 257 dignitaries across Africa and beyond, including development partners and senior African Policy Makers.
H.E. President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, President of the Republic of Ghana officially opened the 15th RUFORUM Annual General Meeting where he called on Member States to explore all possible mechanisms that will make agriculture attractive to the youth, including leveraging on Science, Technology and Innovations. He informed the delegation that the Government of Ghana commits to work with other Member States to: a) implement an Africa-wide Initiative to Build Africa’s Science, Technology and Innovation Capacity (BASTIC); b) establish centres of excellence in Science Technology and Innovations (ST&I) and Entrepreneurship development in Ghana and other Member States; and, c) work through RUFORUM to strengthen staff capacities in our universities and technical colleges and increase the pool of women scientists in our countries. He further pledged to increase access to education for all Ghanaians and make higher education and Technical and vocational education key drivers of economic development.
This was followed by Remarks from the Executive Secretary of RUFORUM, Prof. Adipala Ekwamu who recognized Dr. Bharati Patel, formerly with the Rockefeller Foundation. He highlighted that Dr. Bharati Patel believed in students as the Change Agents warranting the need to work with and invest in Young people towards rural transformation in Africa. He informed the delegation that RUFORUM was founded in response to the imminent food insecurity with a requirement to galvanize capacity in African universities to address food insecurity. “RUFORUM was set up to provide a platform for training Young People from different African Regions-Students that really love the Continent”, he said.
The Honorable Dr. Matthew Opoku Prempeh, Minister of Education, Republic of Ghana highlighted the need to leverage the collective capacities of the universities and utilize all available resources; and to establish measures for building the capacity of universities to engage the youth and make agriculture productive, attractive and more rewarding. He also highly commended the proposed RUFORUM regional programs for youth agriprenuership; science capacity development; staff capacity and increasing the pool of women scientists. “We need to leverage the collective capacities of the universities and utilize all available resources. We should acknowledge that several institutions have pockets of excellence that can be leveraged for collective capacity”, he said
The Honorable Dr. Becky Ndjoze-Ojo Deputy Minister of Higher Education, Training and Innovation, Government of Namibia applauded Vice Chancellors of African universities
for the initiative to work together and to support especially training of scholars in different African countries, an intervention geared towards achieving Pan-Africanism and regional integration. She noted that the Government of the Republic of Namibia reaffirms its commitment to host the 2024 RUFORUM Triennial Conference in Windhoek. “My Government applauds the Vice Chancellors of African universities for this initiative to work together and to support especially training of scholars in different African countries. This talks well to the thrusts of our leaders to promote Pan-Africanism and regional integration”, She said.
Amongst other key events at the official opening of the AGM was the prelude to the Launch of Prof. Adipala Ekwamu’s Memoirs “The Unfinished Journey” by Megan Lindow; awards to 20 Young Entrepreneurs from West Africa, four outstanding educationists from Ghana, three Ghanaian Young Scientists, and one award to the Government of Ghana for excellent leadership and management contributing to education policy and the development of higher education and agriculture in Africa. It was against such Awards that Prof. Kwabena Frimpong Boateng, Minister of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation, Republic of Ghana, called for a favorable environment and education framework that recognizes the individual talent.
You will agree with me that these, similar to the awards yesterday, provide a glimmer of hope for our continent. We need to nurture this entrepreneurial spirit and capacity of our youngsters. It is then, and only then that we can hold our heads up high and know that there will be a future for the African continent, He said.