The fourth Pan African Robotics Competition (PARC) has been held in Ghana with a call on Africans to embrace the robotics concept in their educational system to prepare young minds for emerging trends in technology.
The competition, which is on the theme, “The Making of African Smart Cities,” is among 20 African countries and aimed at spreading robotics to create awareness among Africans concerning the need to catch up with the rest of the world in terms of technology.
A member of the organizing committee of PARC, Mr. Mohammed Kamal Hadi, observed that “the technology of robotics is the future, and if we are not equipping our kids with this ability to survive in the next generation, then we are going to be in the same position we are today.”
Mr. Hadi said robotics was the future because all the new technologies, especially in manufacturing, were manned by robots adding that, there are even transport systems that are remotely controlled by humans.
Mr. Hadi, therefore, indicated that PARC was concentrating on involving as many children as possible with the technology so that they could compete with others in the “future world.”
He said that robotics also built in children the creative ability which was “the sort of thing we need in Africa, therefore getting many children into robotics is very good for Africa’s future.”
He added that, “Robotics involved learning coding, which is about everything we know now; about buying, selling, engineering, etc. It is about the future because our economy is going to be dependent on it.”
He observed that pursuing robotics did not mean throwing away human thinking, but rather giving some human physical activities to robots which was the kind of complement humans needed in future.
We are talking about replacing the working force and improving the work. We are not talking about giving away human usefulness. Right now there are some worries that some jobs in the future won’t be there anymore and people are going to depend more on engineering minds which is true, but this is the future we are going to face, he said.
The Pro Vice-Chancellor of the Central University, Professor John Ofosu-Anim, observed that “as cities keep expanding, labour becomes a problem. Even to get people with the right expertise to handle certain public services like transportation, surveillance, policing, etc. is going to be a huge problem. But with robots, it’s a matter of programming them to handle those issues.”
Professor Ofosu-Anim observed the ability of Ghanaian students to adopt the technology by alluding to the success story of the students of Methodist Girls Senior High School (SHS), Mamfe, who participated in robotics in the United States and came tops.
“It is my hope that the Ministry of Education and Government of Ghana would support this programme so that we are not left behind. It happens to be the way most developed countries are going so we should try and catch up,” the professor indicated.
Professor Anim informed that Central University was interested in entrenching robotics in the university, as such was working through the Computer Science department to train students in the technology.
PARC competitions in robotics is basically meant to raise the interest of young people in designing robotics, making coding programmes etc. and about fulfilling their curiosity in the field.
The participating countries included Benin, Botsoana, Burundi, Nigeria, Senegal, Ethiopia, Gabon, Ivory Coast, Mali, Lesotho, Djibouti, DR. Congo, Senegal, South Africa, United States of America, Zimbabwe, Gambia, China, and Ghana.