Between November 19-21, while many were getting down to their mid-week/pre-weekend routines, a group of scholars from multiple field were gathered at the Kumasi Polytechnic under the theme “Building a Modern Society Through Technology Innovation”. This was the first International Conference on Applied Science and Technology (ICAST). My attendance at said conference confirmed two things to me; firstly that there is a slow uprising in Science and technology innovation within Ghana and secondly, media houses do not do a good job of capturing this growth which could be an inspiration to many and a source of good news for the entire nation (because God knows everyone loves some good news).
The conference opening ceremony which was kicked off by an opening prayer and welcome address by the Rector and was done in typical grand style expected at such events (Here are some pictures). There was a cultural troupe which provided musical interludes and a cultural display of of traditional dances from the north to the south of the country. There were representatives from the Ministry of Education and also the Ministry of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation. Other dignitaries present included the Executive Director of the National Board For Small Scale Industries (NBSSI) and the President of the Association of Ghana Industries (AGI).
So begun day 1, which was split up into three concurrent sessions:
- A: Engineering, Housing & Waste Management and Computer Science and Technology
- B: Agriculture/Food Science, Health Science, Hospitality, Socio-Cultural Studies and Economics/Statistics
- C: Business Management & Administration and Creative & Applied Arts.
Some interesting presentations from across the sessions included; Ultrasonification treatment effect on Anthocyanins, colour, microorganisms and enzyme inactivation in Mulberry juice (By Dr Felix N. Engmann), Phytochemical screening and maximum allowable intake of selected seasonings from markets in Kumasi (By Mr. Ishmael Ayim) and The influence of science and technology on dress sense and fashion taste amongst polytechnic students in Ghana (By. Mrs Maud Schall).
Day 2 held what I felt to be much more engaging talks. Split along the same lines as day 1, there was a morning session, an early afternoon session and a late afternoon session. Each session comprised of three 15 minute talks with time allocated for questions. Once again I found myself in section B during the morning session of presentations. Among the talks was one of particular interest about the use of coco-yam ( newtannia: Xanthosoma sagittifolium) as a rich source of starch for food and industrial applications. The alternative source of starch also appears to be low in allergens which could be handy in preparation of baby food.
For the first afternoon session, I was introduced to the concept of ‘Nominalisations‘ which involves transforming verbs into nouns (e.g. Fail into Failure, React into Reaction) and its prevalence in abstracts of academic journals. Norminalisation is considered a particularly useful skill in academic writing for compacting information, avoiding repetition and conveying an objective tone. I found this of particular interest because it appears to be a skill I unconsciously picked up during my PhD studies without even knowing it was a thing that existed or realising that in my effort to adhere to word limits I was transforming verbs into nouns.
Following the first afternoon session of talks, there was a lunch break and then a late session. It was during this late session that I found myself a little out of my comfort zone during a maths heavy presentation titled “Performance Evaluation of some Zero Mean Classification Functions under unequal Misclassification Cost”. Now I am no Maths chump, knowing a fair bit to get me around data analysis so I could tell the presenter (Mr. Michael Asamoah-Boaheng) really knew his stuff and from subsequent informal conversations I would say he is one humble maths genius. Put simply, his presentation revolved around some aspects of his MPhil thesis which involved playing around with existing complex statistical analysis and classification methods to optimise it for his own purposes and possibly develop new methods altogether.
Other talks of interest in the sessions I attended and those I missed out on were;
- The use of ICT n Educational Institution Management in Ghana: A Case of Chemu High School-Tema (Mr. Prince Mensah Asiedu)
- Technological Innovators and Gender Roles at Accra Polytechnic, Ghana (Dr. Grace Sintim Adasi)
- Developing Digital Technologies for Fashion Illustration
- Comparative Analysis of parametric Models on Survival of breast Cancer Patients in Ghana (Dr. Alice C Mensah)
- Improving the Reliability of Compressed Air System of an Oil Refinery (Mr. Jones Assifuah)
The final day of the conference comprised morning talks, an afternoon trip to the Bobiri Forest Reserve and Butterfly Sanctuary and finally an evening closing ceremony with dinner. As you can imagine, the morning talks were over swiftly with interesting presentations including one assessing the effect of celebrity endorsement on consumer buying and another developing an accurate model for predicting monthly average rainfalls in the Ashanti region of Ghana.
For me, the trip to the Bobiri Forest Reserve was the highlight of the day. Sadly during to the time of year, there were not many butterflies to be seen. Nonetheless a short hike along the forest trail led by Daniel our guide was exciting enough. Along the trail we stopped at specific trees which were unique for one reason or the other and ranged from 75 to 200+ years old. Particularly was the “Three-sisters”, three trees which had somehow merged into one at the base, a parasitic tree which fed off and took over other plants and a spiritual tree which local history records as answering prayers and was not to be touched by menstruating women.
All in all, the conference was a success with plans of expanding it in subsequent years. I met some interesting personalities and struck up relationships with many individuals who are excited about what the future holds for science and innovation, in Ghana as a start and then the entire sub-region. I will be keeping an eye on progress of some of the research I came across in the hope of having a dedicated section on GhScientific following research advancements in Ghana and Africa.