Monday 4 January 2021

Happy 2021! To a Safer and More Just World

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I was thinking of forgoing writing an end-of-year post considering just how peculiar 2020 was. In spite of the collective anguish and anxiety we suffered, we have learnt many things. Two key insights worth noting are:

1.The reality of just how interconnected the world really is, a nod to the 'global village' metaphor some of us have grown used to. A problem in one locale can easily become a planetary one. We've been captivated by the COVID-19 pandemic, but let's not forget equally devastating but slowly grinding issues like climate change and environmental pollution are also there.

2. That individual, structural, and systemic inequalities (of opportunities) continue to hinder personal advancement and true sustainable development. Think of black lives matter, PPE shortages, unequal access to vaccines, etc.

Doing things the usual ways will not help us. We need to commit more to interdisciplinary and multilateral approaches to solving the big issues. We also need greater transparency and openess to engender public trust and participation. We have seen just how fragile even the systems we admire in certain countries can be.

There's a real need to boost and support local capacity for problem-solving. As individuals and communities, we must embrace resilience as a way of life. This requires being mentally prepared, agile, and resourceful, to thrive in both good and not-so-good times.

Happy and Prosperous 2021!

Wednesday 28 October 2020

Why Public Science Engagement?

This is my input to the Engagival contest launched by Falling Walls. Please read over and let me know what you think!

Speaking at the National Science & Maths Quiz in 2016

We all agree that the knowledge gained from science is power. Indeed science can be a transformational tool when its findings are applied for the greater good. This is often not the case in many parts of the world. It is certainly not always the case in any country. Some times the best evidence does not always inform decision making. A case in point is how the COVID-19 pandemic was handled by some governments. Beyond this, there appeared to be gaps in communication in many countries, especially in terms of how some interventions were arrived at, in the early stages of the pandemic. And let's not forget about challenges with dealing with the climate crisis!

How can scientists and those in charge best exchange information with the community? When engagement is done right, societies access valid knowledge for everyday decision making, and scientists and policymakers better understand the contexts of their lived experience. This means better policies and programmes.

I am concerned about the disparities in access to information among people of different backgrounds - between those in the so-called developed world and the rest of us in the emerging economies, between people in urban and those in rural areas in all countries, and between people of high socio-economic status and those of low socio-economic status in cities. Clearly, the knowledge gap is not only a geographic gap, but an economic gap too. It is an education gap. It is a health gap. It is an aspiration gap. 

Engaging different audiences with science means that we have an opportunity to change the culture. I imagine science embedded in the everyday life of communities would lead to many positive changes for the people. They will learn. They will make better choices. They will solve problems. They will harness opportunties. They will engage the powers that be on stronger terms. This changes the game as the gaps between research, policy, and practice will be closed. The walls to enable science for development will be brought down. This is why I engage.



Tuesday 26 June 2018

Africa Science Week Research and Innovation Showcase 2018 - Call for Applications

Ghana will be hosting her first Africa Science Week (ASW) in September 2018. ASW is an initiative of the Next Einstein Forum (NEF) aimed at engaging members of the general public with scientific information and activities. This will enable them to appreciate the importance of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) as part of everyday life.

2017-2019 NEF Ambassador Peter Asare Nuamah is leading this effort with support from AIMS Ghana, Ghana Science Association and other stakeholders in the Ghanaian STEM space. The theme for Ghana is 'Accelerating Growth and Development through STEM'. Series of activities are being planned for ASW Ghana 2018 including:
  • Conversations in mainstream and social media on the importance of STEM to national development
  • A National STEM Forum/Conference to project local science and make a case for greater investments into STEM
  • Field Visits by Basic School Pupils to the Ghana Planetarium and other interesting locations
During Africa Science Week, the relevance of science and technology for national development would be brought to the fore. We would hear from leading Ghanaian and African scientists and innovators including AIMS Ghana President Mrs Lucy Quist and Ghana's first Next Einstein Forum Fellow, Dr Aku Kwamie.

As part of the festivities, scientists, storytellers, and other innovators would be given the opportunity to showcase their work through a special Research and Innovation Showcase segment. Successful applicants would be given the platform to present to a live audience including policymakers, academics, business leaders, and potential funders. They would receive extensive publicity through both mainstream and social media, reaching audiences across Africa and beyond.

Applications are welcome from any STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics) field, including the humanities. If you're interested in being one of the featured scientists and innovators during ASW Ghana 2018, kindly fill this form.

Wednesday 29 November 2017

Introduction to Programming Using Python Workshop at University of Ghana

As part of Python Ghana's efforts to build the capacity of young people in Ghana to solve problems through Python and allied open source technologies, we organised a workshop for students at the University of Ghana in partnership with the Department of Computer Science and Information Technology and the student society COMPSSA. The workshop took place at the Software Lab at the Department of Computer Science, UG, and lasted from 7 October to 4 November 2017. All in all, four Saturday sessions were held.

The first session was held on 7 October 2017. COMPSSA vice president Nicholas welcomed everyone to the workshop, after which Evans introduced the Python Ghana team. Gameli then gave a brief overview of Python Ghana. He informed participants of the organisation’s desire to help students strengthen their problem-solving skills using Python, one of the most sought after programming languages, as a tool. Emmanuel then took over and led the workshop for the day. He covered fundamental concepts such as programming, variables, and conditionals.

Emmanuel takes participants through fundamentals of programming

The workshop continued on 14 October with training being led by Edward with support from Emmanuel. Also four volunteers who are Entrepreneurs-in-Training (EITs) from MEST were present to support the learners. Day one’s concepts were reviewed and more advanced topics such as abstraction, loops, and functions were introduced. Edward also took time to advise the students on the importance of learning with purpose and inculcating good practices as this stage of their lives. Students were also given homework so they try their hands on code for themselves.

Edward taking learners through how to properly write Python functions

Some of our team members with volunteers from MEST Africa

The third session took place on 21 October. Emmanuel led the training for the day, covering advanced topics including object-orientation, modules, and the Python Standard Library. The students also had the opportunity to interact with and Python African Tour founder Kamon. It was through the Python African Tour initiative that our community was born back in 2011. Kamon shared his experiences using Python for software development and leading Python communities and projects.

The final day of the workshop was moved to 4 November due to some challenges. It was led by Francis. The main topic was Python for web development using the Flask framework. He led an exercise on using forms to collect data for backend processing and output as information. Although attendance was low, compared to the earlier days, the session was interactive and the learners were engaged.

A post shared by Python Ghana (@pythonghana) on

Question time

All in all, we had a successful workshop, which would not have happened without the active participation of students and support of COMPSSA and the Computer Science Department. Also, our partners and Global Lab Network deserve credit for contributing in cash and kind. Finally, thank you to our hardworking team members especially Evans, Emmanuel, Enoch, Edward, Francis, and Gameli for their various inputs. Check out more pics on our Facebook page!

Selfie time after one of our sessions

Tuesday 25 July 2017

Study UK Alumni Awards 2018 Launched by the British Council

Last February, I had a unique honour of receiving the Social Impact award at the maiden Study UK Alumni Awards organised by the British Council in Ghana. As you'd imagine it was an exciting moment for me, my family, my friends, my university (University of Exeter) and the STEM community. The work we've been doing through Global Lab, Woekpor, SHAPE, JCIP, and others was appreciated at a very high level.

Receiving the Social Impact Award at #AlumniAwards2017 from Airtel Ghana CEO Lucy Quist
British Council has since expanded the scheme to include regional and global awards. In support of the 2018 edition, I took a few minutes out of my day last Wednesday 19 July to join the organisers for the soft launch of #AlumniAwards2018. In an interview marking the launch,  fellow Social Impact finalist (& Global Shaper) Mutaru Muqthar, who runs a brilliant counter-terrorism initiative, and I reflected on the impacts of UK education in general and the Alumni Awards on our lives. Enjoy the full discussion in the Facebook Live video broadcast by by the British Council Ghana page below:

I encourage all eligible UK Alumni to enter into this year's bigger and better awards. You may never know. . If you know any UK alumni doing great work, you can also nominate them. More information on the Alumni Awards can be found here. Good luck!