Minister of Education, Dr Yaw Osei Adutwum, says the time has come for Africa to develop its human resource base to participate actively in space technology, to protect its water bodies and other resources.
Dr Adutwum stated that though growth in space technology is at an exponential rate with numerous opportunities, Africa was yet to capitalise on the potentials in the sector to its benefit.
He said this at the ongoing three-day 5th International Conference on the use of space technology for water resources management in Accra, and called on African Governments to intensify efforts in developing its human resource base.
The conference was attended by actors in academia and industry, as well as researchers, to discuss the applications of space technology for water management to benefit developing countries.
Speaking at the conference, Dr Adutwum said, "Africa must wake up to understand that it's not going to be a case where we'll rely on space technology (the hardware and software) from other countries and we're just observers. At best, we become consumers of the research that is done in our countries."
He, said, it is important for African countries to think about how to improve Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education, and tap into research conducted by other countries to develop the needed software and hardware in monitoring water resources.
On the part of Ghana, the Minister said the country was increasing its drive in developing its human capacity through the establishment of STEM schools.
"The schools are to train the young ones to fully take on the challenge of coming up with both hardware and software in space technologies to protect its water bodies and other resources."
"I want to assure you that our goal is to make sure that we build our human capacity, not only for research but for writing of software and manufacturing and also the equipment that is needed," he added.
In his welcome address, the Vice Chancellor, University of Energy and Natural Resources (UENR), Professor Elvis Asare-Bediako, indicated that the extent of damage caused by illegal mining activities required using advanced technologies to monitor, study, and provide solutions to them.
He said, "Without a doubt, water is life in the home and in the industry - it is the universal solvent and we cannot do without it no more than we can do without air. Water is therefore unquestionably essential to life itself. It is sad to note that recent commercial activities (galamsey) on Ghana's water bodies have led to their pollution beyond control."
However, he noted that Africa could use space technology to correct the wrong, and urged all stakeholders to actively participate in providing the needed financial and human resource to take advantage of the opportunities in the sector.
Prof. Asare-Bediako also said UENR had collaborations with various companies and institutions, including the United Nations, to have in-depth study about the impact of water resources, land degradation and neutrality, among other research areas.
The conference is under the auspices of the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOOSA), government, and the Prince Sultan Bin Abdulaziz International Prize for Water (PSIPW).