By Akosua Frema Frempong
A five-day symposium on sustainable ways to provide energy to hard-to-reach communities has taken place in Kumasi. It was organised jointly by the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), and the Technical University of Munich (TUM), in Germany to map out strategies to achieve Sustainable Development Goal 7, which aims at providing affordable and clean energy by 2030.
This year’s symposium saw the attendance of eight participating uuniversities, including the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Jomo Kenyatta University, Makerere University, Namibia University of Science and India University and Bandung University.
It is spearheaded by the University of Munich in Germany under its Sustainable Energies, Entrepreneurship, and Development Centre which was founded in February 2020, to contribute to Sustainable Development Goal 7, which is ensuring clean and affordable energies for all by 2030.
Presently, 600 million people lack access to electricity, most of them in sub-Saharan Africa. According to recent research, in rural areas, where over 80 percent of the electricity-deprived live, mini-grids and stand-alone systems, mostly solar-based, are the most viable solutions.
Speaking at the symposium, the Director of the Sustainable Energies, Entrepreneurship, and Development Centre at the Technical University of Munich, Professor Dr. Frank-Martin Belz, explained further the main thrust of the symposium.
“There are still 600 million people around the world who do not have access to electricity, especially in rural areas, including Uganda. We want to empower them. We want to conduct research with impact. It is an international endeavour for TUM, together with KNUST and six other partner universities in the global south. We want to electrify and empower the rural communities who do not have access to electricity yet,” he indicated.
The Scientific Director for the Sustainable Energies Entrepreneurship and Development Centre at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Professor Rexford Assasie Oppong, said the symposium would map out strategies to improve ways of providing sustainable energy and entrepreneurial skills for development.
The genesis of this whole programme was started by the Technical University of Munich. The whole idea is to provide electricity and entrepreneurial skills for rural development, especially in the global south. We have nine partner universities, of which KNUST is one. What we got as a university is about 150 thousand Euro. And from that, we have managed to build a living lab at Yeboakrom. We are having this symposium as a way of mapping out to improve and to continue this project in the next phase going up to 22030, he explained.
The Senior Vice President of the Technical University of Munich, ProfessorDr. Juliane Winkelmann, expressed ooptimism about the fruitful collaboration between the University of Munich and KNUST in the area of capacity building of students.
“The Technical University of Munich is very happy to collaborate with the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science on areas such as agriculture, engineering, and Electricity and together we focus on research and entrepreneurship but also on education, as the students are the future, and we really want to build on our students, train them to make the world a better place, and compete with the global challenges together. We are also proud of setting up the TUM SEED centre together with KNUST, which does research and education at the intersection of entrepreneurship and electricity, providing electricity in rural areas, and I think this combination is the seed to enlighten rural communities,” she stated.