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Academia, businesses should collaborate to leverage AfCFTA ….Prof. Atuahene-Gima advocates ahead of Ghana Business Summit

By: Maclean Kwofi
Prof. Kwaku Atuahene-Gima, President, Noble International Business School (NiBS)
Prof. Kwaku Atuahene-Gima, President, Noble International Business School (NiBS)

THE President of the Noble International Business School (NiBS), Professor Kwaku Atuahene-Gima, has called for a strong collaboration between academia and industry in order to take advantage of the African Continental Free Agreement (AfCFTA).

That, he said, was critical to help local firms build their own capacities to develop world class products and services for the over 1.2 billion market presented under the AfCFTA.

“With the signing of the AfCFTA, this is the time academia and industry must put their differences aside and work hand-in-hand strategically. It needs to start with a demand-driven approach. Therefore, corporate bodies that are losing market share and lagging behind in introducing new technologies should look to academia to grow and sustain for the future,” Prof. Atuahene-Gima said in an interview with the media in Accra.

Business summit
The interview was ahead of the 2019 Ghana Business Summit, Exhibition and Awards which is scheduled to take place on Friday, October 25, at the at Kempinski Gold Coast Hotel in Accra.

On the theme: “Driving Corporate Entrepreneurship via Industry-Academia Partnership,” the event is expected to create a platform to recognise individuals and companies that play a significant role in the growth and development of the business sector while recognising the key functions within the sector that promote growth and sustainability.

The awards night and dinner, which is the climax of the event, will be jointly chaired by the Chairman of the Peace Council, Professor Reverend Emmanuel Asante, and the National Chief Imam, Dr Sheikh Nuhu Sharubutu.

The awards event is a premier one in Ghana which seeks to celebrate achievement, innovation and brilliance within the business environment.
It is an initiative of Globe Productions in partnership with the Ministry of Business Development, Graphic Business, Media General and the Institute of Directors, Ghana.

Need to collaborate
Prof. Atuahene–Gima said the collaboration should precede the creation of a robust system that would thrive on firms submitting their request to universities or academic institutions that “do have the expertise to help them achieve their objectives.”

“All it takes is submitting your request to universities or academic institutions that do have the expertise. Then students, with supervision from lecturers, will set up companies and work towards finding the solution for industry with the agreement that once a viable solution is found, the corporate body will take it up and roll it out on a larger scale,” he said.

Although there are a number of universities and corporate organisations in the country, he said he believed that the coordination between universities and firms was not very good and it was the fault of both.

“Corporate Ghana does not appreciate the skill and expertise available in the universities and perhaps the universities are not very good at marketing their expertise to corporate Ghana. So you have an imbalance. If there is good relationship between universities –knowing the skills there– and industry in Ghana, you will have students working on demand-driven projects. This means companies will bring in their problems and students will have to think, design and provide the solutions knowing that there is a market out there. If one company has a problem, it means there are others too,” he said.

Corporate entrepreneurship
Citing the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) example, he explained that the MIT and other American universities had earned their enviable positions because students from those schools, right from school, had worked with corporations to solve problems.

“The MIT economy is about the 10th largest economy in the world and valued at almost US$2 trillion. These are companies set up by graduates of MIT globally. These companies are not only set up from out of the blue but set up from a demand-driven perspective.

“They were set up because they know the problems of corporate bodies and found solutions to those problems. By the time the companies started, they already had markets,” he said.