Bradford University holds first-ever IKTN conference in Accra

Bradford University holds first-ever IKTN conference in Accra

The University of Bradford (UK), in partnership with the British Council Ghana, has organised an International Knowledge Transfer Networking (IKTN) in Accra.

The conference, which is the first in a series planned by the University was under the theme “Responsible Leadership for Sustainable and Inclusive Growth”.

The conference centred around discussions on the role of responsible leadership in supporting a progressive digital economy that is aligned to utilising the natural resources and human capital in the country for sustainable development and growth.

It also touched on the function of citizenry in collaborating and co-creating with government, the private and third sectors solutions to problems, and the presence or absence of policy frameworks to support such co-creation.
Additionally, it concentrated on where and how international collaboration between higher education institutions and agencies in Ghana and the UK can play a strategic role in shaping sustainable development and socially inclusive and equitable growth through education, research and knowledge exchange.

The engagement
The Associate Pro-Vice Chancellor, for Global Engagement and Partnerships at the University of Bradford, Professor Vishanth Weerakkody, said for many years, the University of Bradford had been actively involved in knowledge transfer networking events within the UK, engaging with local stakeholders such as businesses, non-governmental organizations, charities, and community members in Bradford, West Yorkshire.

He explained that the event in Accra represented the university’s first foray into organizing such an initiative on an international scale.

He reaffirmed the university’s commitment to educating young people and also indicated some programmes offered at the University of Bradford. He mentioned the availability of numerous scholarships and highlighted the university’s leading position in applied artificial intelligence (AI) in the UK.

“AI plays a pivotal role in international development, particularly in driving digitization and economic growth. At our university, we are at the forefront of AI research and education,” he indicated.
He emphasised the university’s leadership in the fields of social, economics and sustainability, areas critical for addressing contemporary global challenges.

“We’ll prepare our young populations for the evolving job markets, both at the global and regional levels. Our aim is to provide students with a comprehensive understanding of these topics and equip them with the necessary skills to thrive in today’s dynamic world,” he added.

Inclusivity
Dr. Joseph Kwadwo Danquah, Assistant Professor of Human Capital Development, Innovation and Entrepreneurship at Bradford University, emphasised the importance of inclusivity in national development.

He noted that leaving anyone behind would be detrimental to progress, saying “inclusivity is very critical; we cannot as a country leave anybody behind.”

He emphasised the need to include all demographics, including men, women and children, in development efforts. Supporting his argument with data from the World Bank, Dr. Danquah noted that the statistics clearly indicated the government was on the right trajectory.

He expressed the hope that responsible leadership would continue to guide the country towards achieving its development goals.

Scholarships
Dr. Sheilla Chimungeni, Regional Manager of Sub-Saharan Africa & The Americas at the University of Bradford, disclosed that the university had initiated a unique programme tailored for Ghana, encompassing collaboration with educational institutions and the corporate sector.

Managing a portfolio spanning 42 countries, Dr. Chimungeni emphasised the significance of the programme for Ghana’s society. She highlighted that the initiative, swiftly organized by the University of Bradford, builds upon successful precedents in the Bradford area.

“This programme serves as a pilot for Ghana, aiming to gauge its reception and impact. Our vision involves fostering partnerships with Ghanaian educational institutions and businesses,” she said.
Dr. Chimungeni also underscored the University of Bradford’s commitment to societal welfare.

Despite challenges stemming from the Covid-19 pandemic, she revealed the university’s efforts to provide comprehensive scholarship packages for Ghanaian students.

Explaining the scholarship offerings, Dr. Chimungeni outlined two categories: a general scholarship open to all Ghanaian students and subject-specific scholarships with no limitations.

“We aim to support Ghanaian students irrespective of their academic interests,” she affirmed. She stated that the University of Bradford’s initiative is step towards fostering educational accessibility and collaboration in Ghana.

Collaboration
Dr. Nana Ato Arthur, the Head of Local Government Service, has emphasised the importance of collaboration in enhancing public service delivery in Ghana.

He highlighted the significance of partnering with institutions of higher learning such as the University of Bradford, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), University of Ghana – Legon, Ministry of Local Government Studies, Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration (GIMPA), and others.

“We believe that doing the same thing all the time will give you different results,” Dr. Arthur stated. He underlined the need for innovation and fresh perspectives in addressing societal challenges.

He emphasised the potential of collaboration with these institutions to address various issues and ultimately improve productivity in public service delivery, which is essential for meeting the needs of citizens.

Dr. Arthur introduced the concept of “WISER Ghana” as part of the country’s “Ghana Beyond Aid” initiative, where ‘W’ stands for Wealthy, ‘I’ for Inclusiveness, ‘S’ for Sustainable, ‘E’ for Empowerment, and ‘R’ for Resilient.

He stressed the importance of applying these principles at the local government level, stating, “There’s no Ghana without the 261 Municipal, Metropolitan, and District Assemblies (MMDAs) because they form Ghana”.

The focus on “WISER municipalities, districts, and metropolitans” aims to create a more prosperous and resilient Ghana. Dr. Arthur particularly stressed the need to address issues related to internally generated revenue (IGR) within MMDAs to foster wealth creation at the local level.

In this regard, Dr. Arthur underscored the significance of digitalization in improving the wealth of assemblies. He provided examples such as utilizing the digital address system for property rate collection and optimizing billing circulation and payment methods through technology.

“We want to reduce face-to-face contact as much as possible,” he indicated. He expressed confidence that embracing technology would contribute significantly to achieving the desired WISER assembly goals.

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