Imperial celebrated its growing links with Ghana with an alumni reception in Accra hosted with business leader and alumnus Sir Sam Jonah.
The event brought together dozens of Imperial alumni based in the region to hear about the latest research projects and breakthroughs from Imperial.
Imperial’s President Alice Gast hosted a conversation with one of the country's leading businessmen and alumnus Sir Sam Jonah (MSc Resources Engineering 1979), the executive chairman of Jonah Capital, about his varied career and memories from Imperial.
President Gast, also spoke about Imperial and Ghana’s shared drive in innovation and entrepreneurship: “There is a can do spirit here in Ghana. There is energy to get things done.
“At Imperial College, it’s an exciting time because there is a lot to get done. Students are as creative minded and hard working as ever.
"They are perhaps more entrepreneurial now and moreover have more opportunities to be entrepreneurs.
“Imperial is a place where entrepreneurship is flourishing. We have many competitions to support entrepreneurs, mentoring, incubator and the hack space.”
Sir Sam talked about why he chose to study mining and his experiences working underground in mines in Ghana so that he could get a scholarship to study abroad.
Sir Sam, who recently became the second African to be inducted into the National Academy of Engineering, said: “I am humbled to be here. I had not appreciated that I had inspired people to study at Imperial, but people have been telling me this evening that I did.
“We are in global village and it is important that we share. I have had more setbacks than successes.
“I am prepared to share my weaknesses, frailties and setbacks, to show that we are human and can succeed in spite of the odds.”
Sir Sam also gave his advice on being a successful leader: “We should be humble – the good times are not forever. Have a vision; the content of a person is important, not how rich or successful they are.
“As a leader, it’s important to identify and encourage talent. You don’t want ‘yes-sayers’ around you.
“These important elements of leadership have served me well.”
Research collaborations in Ghana
President Gast updated alumni on an urban air quality project in Ghana led by Professor Majid Ezzati, from Imperial’s School of Public Health and academics at the University of Ghana.
Imperial academics led by Professor Majid Ezzati are working with academics in Ghana on a major global project that could help reduce inequalities in healthcare for billions of city-dwellers.
Over the course of the four-year project, the research teams will gather evidence on issues affecting the health of people in cities such as Accra, Tamale and London, and work with policymakers to develop evidence-based policies for improving the health of city-dwellers.
In the Ghanaian capital Accra, efforts are being made to improve the standard of housing.
Imperial has more than 200 alumni living in Ghana and over 250 Ghanaian alumni living around the world. President Gast urged the alumni to "help each other and forge local connections."
Shirgade Laryea (Business School 2019) said: “It didn’t feel like studying at the time, it was more like learning every day surrounded by new friends and having fun.”
Aboagye Adu (Department of Geology, 1996) and his wife Nana Adu made a five hour road trip to attend the event in Accra. Aboagye said: “I have been following Imperial closely over the years and I’m so pleased with how active the alumni network is now.”
Naa Enti (BSc Bio Chemistry with Management 1997) said: “I started out as a scientist, but the year of Business Management with my degree transformed and changed my life path – it was the best thing to happen to me. I now run my own agro-business, Garden2plates, and own farms. Our focus is on salads, and educating people to eat salads”.
Some of Imperial’s notable alumni in Ghana include: Professor Samuel Kwame Offei, (Biological Sciences Research doctorate, 1997) Pro-Vice Chancellor of academic partnerships at the University of Ghana, Martyn Mensah (MBA, 1992) is Chairman of the Board at Petra Trust and founder of StratAfrique Consulting and Professor Samuel Nii Odai, Director of Ghana's Regional Water and Environmental Sanitation Centre.
Africa’s leading universities
Imperial’s Vice President Maggie Dallman spoke at the African Research Universities Alliance (ARUA) Biannual Conference in Nairobi.
ARUA brings together sixteen of the region’s leading universities. The network’s mission is to significantly expand and enhance the quality of research conducted in Africa by African researchers.
Professor Dallman spoke about what Imperial is doing to adapt to the changes already being brought about by the fourth industrial revolution.
Professor Dallman said: “As the key drivers of scientific and technological advancement, we know that Universities will be at the heart of the fourth industrial revolution. Whilst I recognise that approaches and needs will differ depending on context, I believe our sector shares common values and responsibilities as we respond to the challenges and opportunities presented by the Fourth Industrial Revolution.”
Professor Dallman also hosted an event in Nairobi to meet Imperial's alumni community based there.
Imperial's community in Lagos, Nigeria also held an event during the week with Imperial's Clare Turner.
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