The University of Environment and Sustainable Development’s 4th Commencement Lecture was held on the 27th of January, 2024 on the theme: Towards Net Zero Emissions: The Role of Clean Energy in Africa.
The Guest Speaker was Dr. Daniel Tutu Benefoh, EPA. It was attended by members of the University community, students and guests. A former minister of state, Hon. Hackman Owusu-Agyemang, was the Guest of Honour.
The moderator was the Registrar, Mrs Mary Abena Agyepong.
The Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Eric Nyarko-Sampson, reiterated that the Commencement Lecture marks the beginning of the academic year of the university. At this lecture, the university chooses one of the issues of Environment and Sustainable Development and invites an expert to speak to it and motivate researchers, lecturers and the public to work towards the resolution of the issues.
This 2023 theme: Towards Net Zero Emissions: The Role of Clean Energy in Africa, highlights the gravity of emissions and invites discussion of their effects on the global community. The purpose is to bring up the matter for national discourse. It will also influence the topics of discussion at the university this year.
Prof. Nyarko-Sampson said, in recent times, the international community has progressively recognised the urgent need to address climate change and reduce gas emissions. Africa, with its growing population and expanding economies, stands at a crucial juncture in determining the route of its energy future. He noted that the transition towards zero emissions is a critical step, and clean energy solutions play a pivotal role in shaping Africa’s sustainable development.
He expressed delight that the 4th Commencement Lecture was being held and he will continue to rely on the members of the university community’s diligence, cohesion, and dedication to the process of developing UESD, the UESD way.
He urged staff and students to let the core values of the University with the acronym HOPE (Honesty, Opportunity, Perseverance, and Enterprising) continue to inspire them to do things the UESD style. Adding that, he remains resilient and stays focused on the vision of the institution, notwithstanding the challenges that may arise.
In his presentation, the Guest Speaker, Dr. Daniel Tutu Benefoh, highlighted the significance of the topic in shaping the world’s future. He explained the rationale for the planned energy transition, citing the effects of climate change, the switch from fossil fuels to natural resources, the policies guiding the energy transition, and current worldwide challenges.
Supporting his lectures with facts, Dr. Benefoh projected a shift by 2026, indicating a reduced reliance on fossil fuels in favour of natural resources. Zooming in on Africa, the climate change expert highlighted that the continent contributes less than 7% to global greenhouse emissions. Despite commendable initiatives such as the largest solar plant in Morocco, Ghana’s Bui power floating solar, and Kenya’s Olkaaria Geothermal power plant, Dr. Benefoh acknowledged the existing challenges in the lack of energy infrastructure, inflationary pressures, power outages which are major constraints to achieving clean energy.
Addressing the way forward, the guest speaker among other things proposed solutions for Africa’s clean energy journey, advocating wind turbines, hydrogen, tidal wave energy, and the adoption of electric-powered vehicles.
In his comments, the Guest of Honour and a statesman, hon. Hackman Owusu-Agyeman expressed delight about the progress of the University and paid glowing tribute to all who contributed to its establishment.
He said, UESD is the University of the moment because its primary focus on the environment and sustainable development are the challenges confronting society and therefore it must be given all the attention to function properly. The honourable former Minster and Member of Parliament stated that if management gets all these qualities of HOPE (core values of the university), it will be the greatest hope of the future. Hon. Owusu-Agyemang commended Management of the university for the launch of its Five-Year Strategic Plan with ten (10) Thematic Thrusts and pledged to support Thrust Nine: ’Institutional Awards and Motivation.’
The Chairman of the UESD Council, Prof. Jonathan Narh Ayertey who was the chairman of the Lecture said, the issue of energy security generation and sustainable development is a global concern and it is more predominant in the case of Africa. It is fraught with challenges including financial constraints, technological limitations, and policy gaps that pose hurdles in the adoption of clean energy technologies.
He explained the rationale behind orderly energy transition, attributing it to climate change, shifts from fossil fuel to natural resources, policies shaping energy transition, and trending global issues.
He charged the academic and research community to actively engage in research to address these challenges and therefore contribute to the development of innovative solutions and policies.
At the programme, the UESD Library Book Donation campaign was launched to solicit funds and books to enhance the University’s Library. A member of the Committee, Dr. Tracy Keith Flemming (Mankutam) launched the campaign.
There was a solidarity message from the Ghana Immigration Service.
Music was by the UESD choir.