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27.10.2010 Feature Article

Scientists in limbo: Ghanaian science scholars murdered sleep

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A sharp progress in science and technology in Ghana is sure to increase economic boom as it did in Malaysia. However after half century of self rule the country still experiences power cuts and power rationing. The hydroelectric plant at Akosombo is incapable of meeting the energy needs of the country. Consequently, Ghana, which almost became nuclear power in Africa has energy crisis. Meanwhile the nuclear reactor at Kwabenya is wasting away. Some of the finest scientists and engineers in the country operate the reactor. These fine brains have proven to be scientists and engineers in limbo. When Scientists in Iran (amidst stiff UN sanctions) develop nuclear energy, those at the reactor in Ghana sleep. These fine brains just as the failed politicians hawk their imaginary inventions on radio and TV talk shows in Armani suits.

In the meantime, the political leaders have totally lost confidence in these scientists and engineers. As a result, the politicians prefer to award lucrative engineering contracts to Chinese and European engineers and scientists. Almost all the contracts for first class roads constructions in Ghana are awarded to these engineers. The sky crappers littering Accra were also built by them. All the engineering edifice of a class went to these companies. GNPC was the only institution, which took a bold decision in using Ghanaian engineers and scientists in prospecting for crude oil but had scars to show for it. It nearly went into administration. What happened was in the past few decades GNPC depended largely on Ghanaian engineers and science flops in prospecting crude oil in the country. After decades of waste of state funds no crude was discovered. Some few years later, some American experts using data gathered by GNPC staff found oil in areas GNPC had already explored for oil.

The irony is greater percentage of the wealth from this rare natural resource is gone to the company, which discovered the oil. Ghana owns only 10% of the oil. Just a couple of investors and their shareholders own the company I believe. Ghana with a population of 20 million people with higher developmental needs owns just 10%. To add insult to injury a company called EO owned by two Ghanaians own 3.5%. While the population of 20 million people own a meagre share of 10%, two people through some under hand dealings own 3.5%.

The situation could have been different if the engineers and scientists who GNPC spent colossal sums of money in training abroad had discovered the oil. Ghanaians would own the greater percentage of the wealth from the oil. The resources from the oils sales could boost the economy. It could bring succour to our children who study under trees. This is because a decent classroom fixed with modern gadgets to aid learning would be provided for them. It is amazing that the Geology department at Legon had trained scores of Geologists since it was established in the 1940s. This not with standing the country had to rely on foreign geologists to find minerals lying undiscovered underneath the earth.

It would not be surprise if these failed lawyers turned politicians had already tied the much-expected revenue from the crude in some dodgy options and futures. These legal flops are the cause of our under development for generations and yet the engineers and scientist sleep. The fact is the country abounds in talents who could help in developing solar panels to aid regular power supply for homes and industries. The power supply in the country just like agriculture depends on the rains. In seasons of draught the dam at Akosombo falls to an abysmal level and it cannot propel the turbines to generate enough power. Power supply becomes erratic and so unreliable in a country where temperatures are constantly at 37 degree Celsius. The bedrooms become so hot at night making sleeping virtually impossible. The Ghanaian scientists and engineers murdered sleep of the people. The people had to stay wake all night due to excessive heat and incessant sounds from relentless mosquitoes. The scientists could eradicate these mosquitoes but that has also become a daunting task just like designing better drainage systems.

Its time the tertiary institutions help students develop their talents particularly in the sciences. This is mostly so because the hospitals are always short of doctors. In some countries, students with no background in science are admitted into medical schools. The situation is different in Ghana where doctors are in short supply. So much myth surrounds the Medical Schools and this is not helping prospective medical students. The lecturers at the medical schools are still using the admission policies used since the days of Gordon Gorggisburg. They are not ready for a change just as they are not ready to be innovative and creative. The funny thing is whiles other countries are encouraging more students to become doctors. In Ghana very brilliant students who could become excellent doctors are denied the opportunity. Such students are compelled to read raw science courses, which made them unemployable graduates.

The future of the country relies on the ability of Ghanaian scientist/engineers/ technicians becoming more ingenious. Importing inferior electrical gadgets from China and Dubai is destroying the economy and stifling local ingenuity. Until there is a political leader in the calibre of Nkrumah the country would continue crawling on it's kneels like a toddler. The current crops of stomach politicians are not only clueless but greedy as well. They are excited as the scientists and engineers continue murdering sleep so they can plunder the country


Francis Kwaku Egu, UK
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[email protected]

Francis Kwaku Kuma
Francis Kwaku Kuma, © 2010

The author has 14 publications published on Modern Ghana.Column: FrancisKwakuKuma

Disclaimer: "The views/contents expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect those of Modern Ghana. Modern Ghana will not be responsible or liable for any inaccurate or incorrect statements contained in this article."

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