"The DAAD-ZEF Centre of Excellence at the University of Ghana could not have come at a better time".

November 11, 2009.  

Interview with Dr. George Owusu, Senior Research Fellow and Coordinator of ZEF DAAD Graduate Program on Development at the Institute of Statistical, Social and Economic Research (ISSER), University of Ghana, Legon. Dr. Owusu paid a two week visit to ZEF to work on the Graduate Program with colleagues at ZEF.


What is your personal and professional impression of the cooperation so far in the framework of the DAAD-ZEF Centre of Excellence in Ghana?

In my function as Coordinator of the Graduate Program I am quite satisfied with what we have achieved so far. Like any new venture, there were initial difficulties but these have been addressed and solved over time.


The DAAD-ZEF Centre of Excellence at the University of Ghana could not have come at a better time. There is an increasing demand for high-level manpower at several sectors of the Ghanaian society, especially in universities, government agencies, the private sector and the NGO sector. For instance, the last few years have witnessed significant increases in the number of private universities offering development related programs and think-tanks. These kind of institutions all demand professionals with high-level of qualifications such as PhDs. This year, the response to advertising for the next batch of students to be admitted in January 2010 exceeded our expectations by far.


The DAAD-ZEF Centre of Excellence does not only entail the training of PhDs but also opportunities for training staff from both ZEF and ISSER. This enables staff to acquire state-of-the-art skills and competence in development research and teaching. Besides, there are opportunities for upgrading ISSER’s infrastructure, especially its library and computer laboratory. These facilities under the DAAD-ZEF-ISSER cooperation provide opportunities for strengthening ISSER as a leading development research center in Ghana and Africa in general.


How is the feedback from the students who visited ZEF during last summer?

The feedback from the students who visited ZEF and Bonn in June this year was extremely positive. The visit provided the students with an opportunity to further develop their thesis proposals. They also got the opportunity to interact with German academics and institutions. Thanks to a German language program which they went through prior to their arrival in Bonn, they were able to cope very well whilst here. In fact, I have received comments from the students to explore the possibility of coming back to Bonn at the tail end of their studies in Ghana to finalize their theses here at ZEF. This gives you a very good indication of the level of satisfaction of the students regarding their visit to ZEF in June-July of this year.


How was your own stay at ZEF? How did you find the institutional atmosphere and the way in which research and the doctoral program are being organized? Did you get impulses for ISSER?

My stay was relatively short but has been very fruitful. The institutional atmosphere has been really good, allowing me the space to write a few papers for publication. Whilst here, I have had the opportunity to attend a number of seminars to familiarize myself with some of the research programs at ZEF. I have also had the opportunity to interact with a number of senior researchers and doctoral students. I can safely say that the lessons and insights I obtained during my stay at ZEF will only lead to strengthening the PhD program at ISSER. And to tell you how I feel about Bonn and Germany in general, take this: I will come back!

Dr. Owusu, we thank you for the interview.



Alma van der Veen


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