Time to innovate to propel technological transformation

BY: Daily Graphic

A little over a year ago, with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Ghanaian rose to the occasion.

They innovated with all types of containers to provide running water for handwashing.

One of the key protocols that the World Health Organisation (WHO) promoted to prevent the spread of the disease was effective handwashing.

However, developing countries, including Ghana, with a dearth of running water to all populations, might not have been able to adhere to this safety measure because of its circumstance.

In Ghana, nearly three million people rely on surface water to meet their daily water needs, leaving them vulnerable to water-related illnesses and diseases (source water.org).

But amid the global pandemic, citizens innovated in the face of challenges.

From northern Ghana, communities innovated with sticks tied with ropes to gallons, which were propelled by the feet to allow water to flow for proper handwashing.

In the capital, the innovation of Mrs Veronica Bekoe, the Veronica bucket, was ubiquitous at the entrance of all public and private facilities.

In the middle belt of the country, specifically in Kumasi, Richard Kwarteng, a shoemaker entrepreneur, innovated with his solar wash that even got Ghana a mention in the documentation of the United Nations.

Now, those in the welding sector have innovated with all kinds of contraptions to automatically dispense soap and water on the hands for all to realise the call for clean hands to kick COVID-19 out.

On Thursday, March 11, 2021, a local company, Zaacoal Company Limited, was reported in the Daily Graphic to have won a contract to distribute charcoal made from coconut husks to Canada, the United States and Mexico. A memorandum of understanding has been signed to that effect, and Zaacoal would be scaling up to distribute internationally.

The Zaacoal success story is a Ghana success story, and points to the innate capacity of citizens to innovate.

We all drink coconut juice and eat the fruit. Coconut husks are now features along our roads and streets, when those who sell the fruit juice and kernel leave them there.

The beauty of the Zaacoal Company Limited coconut husk charcoal is that using simple discarded waste material, the company has innovated to produce charcoal that is of the standard and quality ideal for the international market.

Ghana is not out of the woods yet with the pandemic; as our 2021 Budget statement and economic policy and the advice by experts show that self-reliance is still key, if Ghana is to make any headway with its development.

As all countries continue battling with COVID-19 and their economies face recession, development funding will be constrained and Ghana needs to mobilise resources domestically to finance her needs.

The Daily Graphic proposes that the government leads the way in an innovation drive to impress upon individuals and businesses to innovate for economic growth as Zaacoal is showing the way.

Government can successfully do this through a strong policy framework that seeks to incentivise individuals and businesses to innovate. We believe that a policy framework that guides our engagements and efforts will definitely guarantee us success.

In line with the drive, technical and vocational teachers in our instruction facilties must lead a campaign of their own in nurturing innovative ideas to propel the nation’s technological transformation.