The University of Cape Coast in collaboration with the University of Nairobi, Kenya and the Hochshule Bonn-Rhein-Sieg University of Applied Sciences, Germany (UCC-UoN-BRSU) has held the third joint international conference on the theme “Platform for Promoting Sustainable Enterprise Development in Africa: The Role of Industry-Academic Partnership.”
The 2015 edition of the conference was hosted under the auspices of the University of Cape Coast School of Business. Some of the sub-themes for the conference included “Promoting Collaboration between Africa and German SMEs”; “Practice-Oriented Teaching and Graduate Unemployment and Promoting Africa as a Region of Opportunities.” The others were “E-learning Platform and Business Education”; “Environmental Entrepreneurship and Resource Management” and “Business Incubation in Higher Education”
Delivering the opening remarks at the conference, the Vice-Chancellor, Prof. D. D. Kuupole observed that private enterprise growth is a major challenge to most African countries. He noted that despite the abundance of natural resources, the continent was bedeviled with poverty and low levels of development. He therefore pointed out that African countries need critical thinkers with innovative ideas to change the fortunes of the continent and this according to him, could be achieved through vibrant partnership such as that of the UCC-UoN-BRSU.
Prof. Kuupole entreated participants of the conference, especially, those from partner Universities to build networks, share business experiences of mutual benefit as well as cultural and knowledge exchanges. He thanked the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, Germany for the countless support they continue to grant UCC through BRSU to faculty and students of the School of Business. He also seized the opportunity to welcome the University of Nairobi to the partnership and expressed the hope that they would also bring to bear their experiences.
In an address, the Vice-President, International Affairs and Diversity, BRSU, Prof. Dr. Jϋrgen Bode expressed the need to bring together university and industry as close partners. He stressed that “Companies want unique selling propositions in universities which is the student.” He therefore called on universities to also consider their students as valuable asset to feed industry.
The keynote speaker for the conference, Dr. Paa Kwesi Nduom in his address pointed out that the private sector expect universities to produce graduates with strong moral grounding, good ethics, and can add value to the work. He stressed that “lack of qualified and appropriately trained human capital as well as obstructive governments’ were the bane to private sector development.
Dr. Nduom who is also the founder of the Progressive Peoples Party and an entrepreneur expressed worry that the unfriendly attitude of African governments towards the private sector pose a great challenge to the sustainability of their business adding that “the private sector is the creator of wealth whilst the public sector provides the enabling environment for businesses to strive.”
The Dean of the UCC School of Business, Prof. Edward Marfo-Yiadom in his welcome address noted that the conference was aimed at bridging the gap between academia and industry. He noted that the conference would provide opportunity for speakers and participants to address issues relating to the theme and also make recommendations to African nations.
Tracing the history of the partnership, the Project Leader in Ghana, Prof. Rosemond Boohene noted that the partnership began in 2012 between UCC and BRSU. She explained that a number of UCC faculty and students have embarked on exchange programmes in Germany through the collaboration. She further indicated that some individuals operating businesses have also had the opportunity to visit Germany to improve upon their skills and experiences to enhance their work. She further noted that with the University of Nairobi, Kenya on board, the partnership would soon assume an African-wide collaboration with institutions in Germany.
Awards were also presented to individuals and businesses that won the Green Entrepreneurship Award Competition by German Corporation for International Cooperation (GIZ).
Other speakers for the conference were the President of Ashesi University, Dr. Patrick Awuah; Dean, School of Business, UoN,Prof. Josiah O. Aduda; representative of the Minister of Trade and Industry and Ghanaian/Germany Entrepreneur, Mr. Walter Deffor. Others were the Ghana representative of DAAD, Berit Stoppa, President, Ghana German Economic Association,Mr. Stephen Antwi; President, Ghana Chamber of Commerce and Industry.