The Gambian Minister of High Education, Research, Science and Technology, Professor Pierre Gomez has called for collaboration between academia and industry to ensure that the continent benefits sufficiently from the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) initiative.
Prof. Gomez said the success of AfCFTA, arguable the largest free trade area, presented a golden opportunity for collaboration between academia and industry.
“I invite universities and industries to work more effectively in establishing systematic development links with each other to ensure that academic research is geared towards responding to industries visible and pressing needs,” he stated.
He made those remarks as a Special Guest of Honour at the 17th congregation of the Regional Maritime University in Accra on Saturday which also marked the 65th anniversary celebrations of the university.
According to Prof. Gomez, it was also important to utilise modern technologies and innovations to advance trade within the continent.
“We can only achieve the objective with the use of new and emerging technologies, otherwise African businesses will remain uncompetitive,” he stressed.
He commended the RMU on their anniversary celebrations, adding that they must be supported to train skilled individuals that would contribute to the growth of economies across Africa and beyond.
He also urged graduates to look out for the several opportunities within the maritime sector, while utilising available research tools to improve upon knowledge.
The event saw a total of 444 graduates passing out and awarded diplomas, bachelors and masters degrees in various courses including ports and shipping administration, marine engineering, computer engineering, accounting and logistics management.
Out of the number, 50 received masters degrees, 324 had bachelors degrees and 70 were award with diplomas.
Special awards were also presented to hardworking staff, former lecturers and students as well as individuals who contributed to the growth of the university over the years.
The Ag. Vice-Chancellor of the university, Dr Jethro W. Brooks urged the graduates to utilise the knowledge acquired to develop the maritime sector and contribute to economic growth.
He said the university was also committed to producing talented graduates capable of discharging their duties excellently within the maritime industry.
He said the discovery of oil and gas by countries along the Gulf of Guinea, expansion and modernisation of ports and habours in the sub-region coupled with increasing number of ships, presented enormous job opportunities for graduates.
“I have no doubt that you will continue to be equipped with the relevant skills and knowledge to be in a good position to take advantage of opportunities in the maritime industry,” he stated.
“Research and innovations continued to receive the attention that is deserved as one of the core functions of the university,” he said.
In view of this, he said capacity building programmes continued to be run to establish a research culture in the university to ultimately improve the standards of the university as a global maritime education and training institution.
“It is expected that enhanced research capacity of academic staff will enable them to source for research grants for further research and partner with researchers in other tertiary institutions to conduct front-line and cutting-edge research,” he stressed.
He called on the government and member states to continue contributing to the growth of the university.