Engineering beyond borders: Creating lasting solutions through innovation

Engineering beyond borders: Creating lasting solutions through innovation
5 min read

Have you ever wondered why you freely enjoy a phone call with that friend of yours in South Africa with little / no network interruption? Or have you tried to Skype call that business partner in Rwanda just so you could negotiate a few deals for that upcoming project scheduled for the year? Apparently, your long conversations couldn’t have happened without the intervention of telecommunication engineering making it easier to connect you to the rest of the world.

On Agriculture

For a very long time, farmers in the sub-Saharan regions couldn’t track production on their (500 acres) agriculture farmlands. This made it difficult for them to resolve and provide weather information that could have saved their farms from drought or heavy downpour of rain.

Drought season in some parts of northern Ghana due to lack of rainfall (Photo Credit: GhScientific)

Then came some innovations from outstanding young Ghanaians to revolutionising the agricultural industry, making it easier for farmers to deal with these issues.

Agriculture is the main driving force behind Ghana’s economy. This accounts for approximately 42% of the country’s GDP, employing 54% of its workforce. Hence, innovations such as; Farmerline, Sesi Technologies, Farmart Ghana, Sesa Mu, Agrocenta and many innovative solutions are making life easier for farmers.

On Renewable Energy

Renewable energy has come to stay with us. In Ghana’s Northern Region, solar energy is being collected and conserved, and used when the main grid (hydroelectricity) goes off. This has lessened the blackout challenges in most communities in the region, if not all communities.

Our energy challenges have pushed our youth to venture into renewable energy social enterprise projects. Projects such as converting waste products into renewable sources of energy, that could be beneficial to many homes, have lessened the burden on some communities that aren’t on our national grid. 

A report from the International Energy Agency (IEA) pointed out that the 2010 Ghana National Energy Policy encompasses cross-cutting plans to manage the major challenge of fast-growing energy needs for the national development agenda. The policy contains three chapters (4, 5, 6) dealing with renewable energy deployment, waste-to-energy management and energy efficiency. These underline the need for improved support policies, and for the private sectors involvement to foster sustainable and efficient energy generation.

According to the National Energy Policy, Ghana’s renewable energy development will mainly focus on the vast mini hydro potential of the country. Twenty-one micro- and medium-hydro power sites, with generation capacities ranging from 4kW to 325 kW, have already been identified as suitable for power generation. Ghana also has great potential for waste-to-energy and biomass management; mainly the regeneration of wood biomass resources, while the National Energy Policy places more emphasis on bio-fuel generation projects. Solar radiation also provides substantial potential for power generation, and increased government support for the national solar manufacturing sector will form part of the national energy policy.

Renewable energy is the safest and cleanest energy to invest in (Photo credit: YouTube)

Electrical engineers, government officials, policy makers and other stakeholders should consider investing in renewable sources of energy to lessen the burden on the main grid to supply energy to industries, homes and schools across Ghana and Africa at large.

On Transportation

The means of transportation in Africa haven’t improved much due to urban growth and economic challenges that make it difficult to move from one place to another within the shortest possible time.

The means of transportation from some farming communities in Ghana, coupled with the deplorable nature of our roads, make it difficult for farmers to transport their foodstuffs to towns to be sold.

Research shows that, in Kenya, only about 32% of rural people live within two kilometers of an all-weather road. The figures are 31% for Angola, 26% for Malawi, 24% for Tanzania, 18% for Mali and a mere 10.5% for Ethiopia.

Expanding rural road networks (in addition to investing in electrification and irrigation) is a strategic investment for rural development and should not be judged against narrowly defined economic criteria.

In china alone, the transportation industry has evolved. Most of their major breakthroughs had to do with  electric vehicles and solar-powered bicycles. The Chinese government wants 18% of commuters to use bikes by 2020, and bike-sharing programs are key to this effort.

Electric three-wheeled taxi in Anyuang (Source: V.T.Polywoda/CC BY 2.0)

We have made major innovation breakthroughs in health, medicine and software solutions – which have made banking in Africa easier than before. Therefore, it is absolutely necessary we highlight the great works achieved by our young African innovators, while leveraging on their innovations to create lasting solutions to the many challenges around us.

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