Chairman of the Vice-Chancellors of Technical Universities, Professor Kwadwo Adinkrah-Appiah, has said the panacea to societal challenges can be achieved through relevant research.

This according to him must especially come from the Universities to promote knowledge, skills, and attitudinal changes relevant for national development.

The Chairman was speaking at the virtual Second Takoradi Technical University, Biennial Research Conference on the theme: “Championing Research within the University Space in the Covid-19 Era: The Role of Technical Universities.

“The development of our country, and even the entire globe, is currently fraught with several social and economic challenges such as crime, bribery and corruption, academic dishonesty, lack of adequate resources, and quite recently, the scourge of Covid-19”, he noted.

Prof. Adinkrah-Appiah said universities, including Technical Universities, were, therefore, required to play the expected roles of impacting relevant knowledge and skills set for the youth to create a dependable human capital base for the economic transformation of the country and to conduct innovative research that would yield solutions to the development gap between Ghana and the global economic giants.

Research, the Professor said would accelerate National Development and play a key role in supporting the growth and development of a country’s economy as well as improve the quality of life of its citizenry.

“As such, there is an important link between a country’s research capacity and its economic development and this outcome of innovative research are responsible for solutions to societal challenges and important advancements in society such as the Covid-19 Vaccine, HIV medications, malaria vaccine, as well as the construction of major infrastructure around us – from roads to utility networks.

“Universities in Ghana must employ research to support the government to provide solutions to the myriad of challenges to bridge the developmental gap between Ghana and other advanced countries”, he added.

The professor said there are 120 Universities across the country and if research was boosted in the institutions of higher learning, it could lead to a rapid change in the pace of development.

He said Ghanaian Universities required resources to create new systems and to expand existing research facilities to remain competitive in the era of the COVID-19 pandemic and called on the government and Industries to come together to establish Research and Innovation Departments in the various Universities.

He said new knowledge which served as a direct source of ideas for new technological advancements, development of new tools and techniques for efficient utilization of limited resources were key in advancing research and national development.

The Vice-Chancellor of the Takoradi Technical University, Professor John Frank Eshun said the upsurge of the Covid-19 pandemic had affected every aspect of life and threatened the existence of the planet Earth.

Nonetheless, the pandemic had brought unprecedented research in Covid-19 pandemic-related studies such as vaccine development, epidemiology, and healthcare equipment and infrastructure and also created opportunities for researchers to delve into Artificial Intelligence, Augmented Reality, Collaborative Robotics, and Machine Learning among others.

Professor Eshun said a significant impact of the Covid-19 pandemic was the reduction in internally generated funds, governmental support, and external grants and scholarships.

He also said travel restrictions had affected ongoing research adding, “It is extremely difficult to ignore the cancellation of research work which requires internships, industrial placement of researchers in companies and institutes.

He, therefore, noted that building local capacity in research was necessary for accessing the opportunities and managing the risks of an ever-changing world and called for engagement with stakeholders and policymakers for consistent national research policies, prioritization.

The Professor said technical Universities must be at the forefront of new research and application opportunities presented by the pandemic, adding that the “post-pandemic world is a new generation requiring a new way of thinking and a new way of doing things”.

Chairperson of the TTU Publication Board, Professor Mrs. Maame Afua Nkrumah, said the pandemic has changed teaching and learning mode, and TTU just like other universities had adequately adjusted to the new norm and moved most of teaching and learning activities on digital platforms.

“As the world struggles to deal with the global pandemic, the role of research in academic institutions such as ours become inevitable which the institution must strategically use to contribute in the search of a sustainable solution and progress in all spheres of our human life.”

She said research, therefore, becomes imperative in the quest for knowledge and solution to societal challenges hence, this research conference.

“It is pertinent to develop an inbuilt research mechanism in our Technical University system,” he added.