‘Western Africa access corridor’ forges ahead

The University of East London’s chair of the Board of Governors, Geoff Thompson, has held talks to drive forward an historic deal to help the people of Ghana and UEL students.

Mr Thompson, who is also the founder and executive chair of The Youth Charter, an accredited United Nations organisation, has been meeting representatives of the king of Ashanti, Ghana, following the signing of a memorandum of understanding by a consortium of international partners two weeks ago.

The MoU sets out an ambitious ‘Western Africa access corridor’, springing from Ghana, which will enhance education and boost trade.

It was signed during the conferral of an honorary doctorate by UEL to His Majesty Otumfuo Nana Osei Tutu II, in recognition of his services to education.

“What we achieved during that inspiring ceremony on Monday September 3, in the heart of London’s business quarter at Canary Wharf was unique,” said Mr Thompson.

“Now it is about forging ahead and creating the optimal steps to realising ways to augment the lives of the people of Ghana, and our students at the University of East London. I have been speaking with representatives of the Otumfuo about how we co-design and co-deliver exciting programmes for UEL and the Ashanti kingdom. It has been an incredible few days and business, politicians and world leaders are beginning to understand the true and immense potential of what can be realised,” Mr Thompson said.

In his response, Otumfuo Osei Tutu said “We are elated this day which should also mark the launch of what looks set to be an incubator of an innovative collaboration between business, finance and education to foster global development.

“I want to thank the University of East London, the giant construction company Mace, and the finance houses involved in this ground-breaking collaboration.  Ghana stands out as one of the most attractive and desirable investment destinations. We have a government with ambition to build one of the strongest economies,” he said.

The King’s Investment Trust, AIT, Mace, an international construction and consultancy firm, the University of East London, His Majesty, King Osei Tutu Institute of Applied Sciences, Kumasi, and The Youth Charter are all signatories to the memorandum.

“We will work collaboratively over the coming years to secure learning and employment opportunities for Ghanaians in both the UK and in Ghana in order to bring them into the construction and consultancy arenas,” said Mace’s global head of aviation consultancy, Carl Dainter. “We’ll give Ghanaian’s studying here in the UK access to our construction sites through our ‘open door’ policy, which gives them a regular and unique access to industry leading practice being deployed in real life on construction sites,” he said.

UEL’s new vice-chancellor and president, Professor Amanda Broderick said, “What is clear is that whatever the scenario, it is talent, more than capital, that will represent the critical factor of production, with the demand for highly skilled workers significantly increasing and the future workforce needing higher-order competencies to keep pace.

“This is where the University of East London’s distinctive educational philosophy of fitness for work, fitness for life will provide such an advantage.”

The airport will encompass passenger operations, cargo activity, aircraft maintenance and a state-of-the-art aviation skills academy.

“We are a richly diverse university, with more than 135 different nationalities represented on campus, and in the time I have been here, it has proved to be a very vibrant educational community,” said the chancellor of the University, Shabir Randeree.

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