The Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), Kumasi, together with the Technical University of Munich (TUM) SEED Centre, have hosted the 2023 Annual Symposium under the theme ‘Sustainable, Energies, Entrepreneurship and Development.’ The Symposium seeks to provide a platform for participating universities to share ideas on the current research activities in their living laboratories on sustainable and affordable energy.
In his welcome address, Professor Rexford Assasie Oppong, the Scientific Director and Project Lead at the KNUST-TUM SEED Centre, noted that the mission of the project is to provide sustainable energy and entrepreneurship skills for rural development, especially in developing countries. Professor Assasie Oppong indicated that the academic exchange of teaching and research supported by the establishment of the ‘living laboratory’ at Yeboakrom is at the core of the collaboration between KNUST and TUM. He disclosed that the KNUST received funds worth about One Hundred and Fifty Thousand Euros (€150,000.00) from the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) and other sponsors to build this laboratory for creating prototypes and testing new technologies in the community.
Professor Assasie Oppong stated that their team had successfully facilitated electrification for Yeboakrom, a rural community with a population of six hundred (600) people. The electrification project marks the community’s first access to electricity through solar panel.
Speaking at the Symposium, Professor Ellis Owusu-Dabo, the Pro Vice-Chancellor, mentioned that the partnership with TUM-SEED Centre is positioned to transform lives and livelihoods through academic exchanges, encouraging socio-economic development in Yeboakrom, a farming community in the Juaben Municipality, Ashanti region, Ghana. He added that the role the Centre plays in rural electrification and entrepreneurial activities has made available the provision of Solar PV Grid electricity and clean energy to help resolve the climate change agenda. He noted that the project’s goal aligns with KNUST’s mission of creating an environment for undertaking relevant research, entrepreneurship training, and community engagement to improve the quality of life. He added that the KNUST-TUM SEED Centre continues to contribute immensely to Ghana’s aim of achieving a 10 percent energy target in its energy mix by 2030.
Professor Dr. Frank-Martin Belz, Director of the TUM SEED Centre, revealed that about six hundred thousand (600,000) people around the world, especially in rural areas, lack access to electricity. To this end, he stated that the vision of the collaboration sought to electrify and empower rural communities that lack access to electricity, as well as provide sustainable energy and clean water, and explore the intersection between sustainable energy and entrepreneurship in underdeveloped countries. He commended KNUST for its continuous resolve to partner with institutions to solve modern societal challenges.
The Senior Vice President of the Technical University of Munich, Professor Dr. Juliane Winkelmann, disclosed that the collaboration also seeks to build the capacity of students. “The students are our future, and we want to build our students and train them to make the world a better place,” she affirmed.
The five-day symposium saw participation from eight universities, including KNUST, Bandung University, Bahir Dar University, India University, Jomo Kenyatta University, Makerere University, Pontificia Universidad Catolica Del Peru, and Namibia University of Science and Technology, to collectively address the challenge of sustainable and affordable energy. Each university presented their perspectives and solutions towards achieving the affordable energy goal.