Kenyan Delegates Arrive in Ghana to Study Nuclear Technology

A 12 member delegation from Kenya has arrived in Accra to understudy the Ghana Atomic Energy Commission (GAEC) in its application of Nuclear Technology.

The delegates who will be hosted for a week are representing various institutions including Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organisation (KALRO), Kenya Nuclear Electricity Board (KNEB), Kenyatta University (KU), Kenya bureau Board (KeBS), Kenya Industrial Research Development Institute (KIRDS) and the National Commission for Science Technology and Innovations (NACOTI).

The training saw participants through various modules including Strategic Action Plan, Business Plans   and a comprehensive tour of the various science laboratories.

The Chief Scientist at the Kenya National Commission for Science Technology and Innovations, David Otwoma who doubles as a team leader of the delegates expressed delight at the technological advancement of GAEC.

According to him, the decision to visit GAEC was informed by its impressive advancement in Nuclear applications as acknowledged by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). He added that, the information they have acquired so far exceeds their expectations and will help enrich their knowledgebase in the application of nuclear technologies back in Kenya.

The Director General of GAEC Prof. Benjamin Nyarko noted in an interview with GAEC Press that, the World including the International Atomic Energy Commission (IAEA) is preaching sustainability for National Nuclear Institutes in Africa; an IAEA project dubbed “RAF 0047”.

According to him, the IAEA RAF 0047 initiative requires that, pragmatic steps are taken to sustain the operations of National nuclear institutions in Africa.

He disclosed that, as some African IAEA member states are working towards signing their first Strategic Action Plan, the commission is currently on its fourth Strategic Action Plan.

He added that, GAEC’s quest to support all member states that knocks at its door is in line with IAEA’s initiatives to ensure sustainability with respect to Nuclear Institutions in Africa.

Prof. Nyarko described GAEC as a “one stop shop” in the West African Sub regions where member states can acquire the needed support in the application of nuclear technologies.   He said, the commission has the human capacity.

By: Thykingdom Kudesey

Ghana Atomic Energy Commission Calls for Mining Remediation Fund

Ghana Atomic Energy Commission
Isotope Hydrology Lab

The Nuclear Chemistry and Environmental Research Centre (NCERC) under the Ghana Atomic Energy Commission has called for the creation of a remediation fund for the mining sector.

The call was made in the quest to find a lasting solution to issues of water contamination and environmental degradation challenges which is as a result of illegal mining activities across the mining regions.

The NCERC conducts environmental research which focuses on groundwater/surface water quality monitoring, soil and air quality monitoring, pesticide residue in food and other biological samples, as well as environmental remediation. The Centre employs nuclear techniques such as stable isotope hydrology and atomic absorption spectroscopy in its work.

The Manager in charge of NCERC Dr. Samuel Afful told GAEC Press in an interview that government need to enforce laws that governs the small scale mining sector and also ensure effective supervision of small scale mining activities that have been duly licensed.

This action according to him will help reduce the high rate of environmental degradation, gold smuggling, occupational hazard, unemployment and among others that will subsequently boost the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

Giving insight on what form the “Remediation Fund” should take he proposed that, similar to the Heritage Fund, the Fund must be a constitutional provision that requires small scale gold mining firms to pay a remediation tax.

He also recommended that, all sales of gold and other minerals should be channeled through the Minerals Commission that will oversee the deduction and payment of the remediation levy on behalf of mining companies to ensure compliance. “This is the only way to escape the high cost involved in treating polluted surface and underground water as well as degraded lands.

Citing an example, Dr. Afful Stressed that, portions of the river bed of both River Pra and Ankobra at Prestia; in the western region of Ghana should be excavated in order to remove the contaminants.  “The dangers are that, the rivers flow into the sea and in effect, the marine waters will eventually be contaminated by chemicals”

He is confident that, the Atomic Energy Commission has the human capacity and resources to help curb the regrettable situation if funding is made available.

He called on government to consider setting up a Mining Remediation Fund and some other viable initiatives in order to curb the menace.

By:Thykingdom Kudesey

Mathematics; a Dream Killer of Aspiring Female Scientists – Ghana’s First Female Nuclear Engineer Opens up

Ghana’s first female Nuclear Engineer Ekua Mensima has blamed Mathematics as being a threat to the dreams of aspiring young female scientists in Ghana.

The 32 year old award winning scientist told GAEC Press in an interview  that, though Mathematics is “an easy to understand” subject  it not been fairly handled in schools with respect to delivery.

Ekua, who is currently with the Nuclear Regulatory Authority (NRA) at the Nuclear Safety Department, holds a Mater Degree in Nuclear Engineering from the University of Ghana Graduate School of Nuclear and Allied Science. (GSNAS)

According to her, students are given an extremely weak foundation in mathematics right from pre-school to senior high school level hence resulting in low interest in science especially among female students.

She expressed worry at the fact that, many are still being discouraged from perusing science with an erroneous perception that mathematics is difficult. This she said tends to drive more females away from becoming scientists.

Presenting her case on other challenges, she mentioned gender inequality as another thought-provoking factor.” “A situation where women are seen as custodians of the kitchen is highly demotivating. Most women are faced with inferiority complex situations and this causes them to drop science for fear of their future. “

“Being the only female students in my class, I was not given a fair treatment by one of my lecturers who thought i don’t belong to the science class and as a result, i mostly cry to express my pain.  She revealed.

Ekua hinted that, perusing science in Ghana’s University is relatively expensive hence depriving most brilliant but needy female students the opportunity to further. She was thankful to her single parent mother who supported her financially and encouraged her when she almost gave up.

Madam Mensima who is currently a mother of two disclosed that, family responsibility also has a way of pushing women away from choosing science. Using her two children as point of reference, she believes that, she could have advanced beyond her current position if not for the necessary breaks.  She acknowledged the support of her husband who has encouraging her to pursue her PHD.

She believes that, women in science play a one hundred and five percent (105%) role than men and must be given the needed push to realize their dreams.  “Women are assets on every field and must be encouraged to pursue science. I am confident that, women in science have a bright future since the number of enrolment in graduates schools have increased. “

She appealed to the Ghana Education Service to invest more into grooming good mathematics teachers who can give students solid foundation in mathematics.

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By: Pricilla Asare

Government to Increase Research Fund

The Government of Ghana through the Ministry of Environment Science Technology and Innovation (MESTI) is set to increase scientific research fund by one percent (1%) of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP)

This was disclosed by the Minister of MESTI Prof. Frimpong Boateng on his second working visit to the Ghana Atomic Energy Commission (GAEC).

Addressing the staff of GAEC and the media, the minister lamented at the numerous challenges confronting the commission. He described the issue of encroachment on GAEC lands, poor electricity supply and sustainable research funding as disturbing.

According to him “The government is to allocated more funds for research institutions in the country to enable them function effectively”

He expressed worry at the fact that, research institutions including GAEC, CSIR and Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research don’t receive the needed financial support to aid in their operations.

He challenged researchers to develop innovative ways of attracting local funding to expand their work, so that their findings would be owned locally for sustainable development.

He promised government’s support to help commercialize scientific findings by the commission.

On issues of encroachment on GAEC lands, Prof. Frimpong Boateng assured that, his office is liaising with the Interior Ministry and the Inspector General of Police for investigation to salvage the situation.

Prof. Frimpong Boateng on the other hand, proposed to initiate a discussion with the Ministry of Energy to ensure a viable option from the current prepaid billing for sensitive research laboratories across the country. This he said will save delicate and historical samples from irreparable damages.

“You Can’t Have All Women In The Kitchen” – Afia Boatemaa

Afia Boatemaa-Nuclear Engineer

Ghana’s second female Nuclear Engineer Afia Boatemaa has called for an affirmative action among female scientist in Ghana.

The 27 year old scientist who graduated with a Master’s Degree in Nuclear Engineering from the University of Ghana, Graduate School of Nuclear and Allied Sciences (GSNAS) in 2016 is confident that, women in science can climb the ladder of success if they remain focus.

She expressed worry at the fact that, several avoidable factors have led to the fall out of most aspiring female scientists in various academic institutions across the country.

Afia Boatemaa, who is currently working with the Keshe Foundation, first pursued her undergraduate course, in Chemical Engineering at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) in the year 2013

“Female Scientists must stand their grounds and rise to defend their vision” She said. According to her, her quest to encourage other female scientists in Ghana to fight for their right came from several literatures she read concerning gender against female in science.

Afia is of the view that, the tradition that requires women to remain in the kitchen must no longer be heeded to.

Brushing off the challenges, Afia Boatemaa stressed on the need to think about solutions to curb the situation rather than trumpeting on the already known problems.

She disclosed that, even though she is yet to encounter any of such situations, she is mentally psyched to face whatever obstacle that is ahead of her.

“We are not in any competition with men; we only need an accommodating, transparent and a tolerable atmosphere to realize our dreams as female scientists.  Ghana has only three female Nuclear Engineers now and we need more.” she cries out.

She advised women not to give inn to any form of humiliation; deceit and frustrations that are meant to kill their dreams but should rather stay focused.  She hinted that, those who are financially constrained can apply for international scholarship programmes to finance their education.

She finally made an appeal to the Government to set up a fund to support financially challenged females who desire to become scientists.