Design innovative, cost-saving infrastructure - Yankah tells architects

BY: Severious Kale Dery
Prof. Kwesi Yankah
Prof. Kwesi Yankah

The Minister of State in charge of Tertiary Education, Professor Kwesi Yankah, has challenged architects in the educational sector to adopt innovative methods of putting up cost-saving infrastructure.

He said that was possible if architects integrated sustainability into every aspect of the learning experience, charging them, “to enable the engineering and architecture of educational infrastructure to benefit from such cost saving measures.”

The WABER conference

“All GETFund buildings for educational purposes would then have prescribed specifications on sustainability, that will guide construction and save costs for the taxpayer,” Prof. Yankah appealed to the architects at this year’s West Africa Built Environment Research (WABER) Conference held in Accra.

The conference sought to provide an opportunity for particularly, early career academics to develop their research skills and work through constructive interactions with experienced international academics.

It also intended to create an opportunity for built environment academics to interact with their peers, develop collaborations, and exchange ideas on current developments in the built environment field.

“I hereby make a special request to WABER to deliberate on this and make appropriate recommendations to the Ministry of Education.

“In a world of budgetary constraints, energy challenges and limited resources, let’s put all professional hands on deck to save Ghana, to save education in Africa from a needless energy crisis,” he said.

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African Identity

Prof. Yankah urged architects in Africa to quietly undertake research to discover a Ghanaian or an African identity that would give the architecture a distinctive outlook that evoked Africa’s history and cultural practices.

“I say this to lament the lost history of local architectures, and building cultures that may have succeeded in sacrificing or rather terminating our identity in the name of global trends in built environment practices,” he said.

He added that so-called global trends leave Africans groping for unique architectural identities, compelling everybody to abandon the African architectural heritage and blindly follow the rest.

Africa and global research

Prof. Yankah noted that with a population of 900 million, Africa accounted for 12.5 per cent of the world’s population, but produced less than one per cent of the world’s research.

“In the area of scientific knowledge, Africa accounts for just 1.1 per cent. Our funding for research averages 0.3 per cent of the GDP, while Israel spent 4.2 per cent and Korea, 3.7.

“While there is a global average of I,081 researchers per a million population, Africa’s statistics show just 80 researchers per a million population.

“When it comes to research in the scientific areas: science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), research here accounts for just 29 per cent of all research in Africa, which is 32 per cent below the global average,” Prof. Yankah said.