The Vice-Chancellor, Professor Ebenezer Oduro Owusu led a University of Ghana (UG) delegation to visit the University of Southampton (UoS) as part of UG’s efforts at operationalising Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed with other Institutions. The UG delegation comprised Professor Francis Dodoo (Pro-VC, ORID), Professor Andrew Anthony Andrew (WUN and VC’s Strategic Team Coordinator), Professor Boateng Onwona-Agyeman (Dean, School of Engineering) and Dr. Ibrahim Bedi (UGBS). University of Southampton was represented by the President and Vice-Chancellor, Professor Mark Spearing, Professor George Attard (Pro-VC, Interdisciplinary Research), Maria K. Norton (Senior International Partnerships Manager) and other Deans and Directors.
The Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Ebenezer Oduro Owusu held fruitful discussions with high ranking officials and toured various facilities of the University of Southampton during the visit from July 22nd to 24th, 2019.
The UG-Delegation visited the Zepler Institute (‘The Clean Room’) engaged in nanotechnologies. The delegation was met by Prof. Themis Prodromakis, Director of the Institute. Possible collaborations identified included PhD training, Postgraduate Research, finding solutions to local issues, desire to attract Africans and to broaden the impact of its work, Postdoctoral fellowships and Piloting AI and Geospatial as a non-scoring course for UG students.
The delegation visited the Web Science Institute involved in Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Big Data and was hosted by Prof. Dame Wendy Hall, the Director. The Institute was eager to partner UG to develop a website or internet strategy and AI strategy for Ghana based on its experience with developing such a policy for UK. The Institute wishes to partner UG to conduct AI research and PhD studentship, help Ghana to develop its own expertise because Ghana is more ready for such issues and must take the lead in Africa, assist in resolving the global shortage of AI professors and assist in Cybersecurity. The Institute would like to host Staff and faculty exchange programme for 1 to 6monhs or as UG might determine.
There was meeting between the UG-Delegation and Prof. Andy Tatem, Director of Worldpop Project, School of Geography. This project integrates AI and geography with an ongoing project in Ghana with the Ghana Statistical Service and the Ghana Health Service which UG could be brought on board in areas such as population distribution, anti-malaria, vaccination, satellite imagery, use of computers and AI for mapping, geospatial dataset, satellite mapping of population distribution and capacity building.
Prof. Justin Sheffield & Prof. Julie Reeves met the delegation to discuss their project, ‘Building Research Capacity for Sustainable Water and Food Security in Drylands of Sub-Saharan Africa (BRECcIA)’ and Capacity building. UG is a partner institution in the BRECcIA and the Project Leads were impressed with UG performance. UG has been selected to host annual research meeting in Ghana in 2020 and the Summer school. The teams hope to share of data, engage in professional development (research development and management) and set-up networks to promote capacity building and introducing informal follow-ups.
A panel with material science led by Prof. Onwona-Agyeman and Prof. Mark Zwoliski saw the two institutions identifying seven (7) areas of collaborating including developing a generic AI course and data collection for research in big data.
The UG-Delegation also visited the National Infrastructure Lab and toured the facility led by its Director, Prof. William Powrie. The Lab was interested in collaborating with UG on acoustic and design, civil engineering, energy for development – Solar cells Project, Biogas for sustainable cities, inspiring the next generation into industry, vehicular pollution and inclusion of social and political considerations in projects.
The two institutions are keen to deepen the relationship or partnership so the two Vice-Chancellors tasked each institution to identify three to five areas to start with and find the resources to execute them, engage capacity building, explore working on artificial intelligence, team shadowing (faculty exchange) and begin the seven (7) areas colleagues in engineering have identified.
Finally, to ensure the partnership works, a team from Southampton would pay a reciprocal visit in December 2019. In addition, UG can pursue research in Ghana but using UoS capabilities, identify a group of people in both organisations to form teams to identify and pursue joint activities and research proposals, UoS would give UG a priority in GCRF partnerships and immediately put in two proposals for GCRF and DFID call for proposals ending mid-September 2019.