A member of the Parliament of Ghana, Ras Mubarak, has described the launch of the country’s first satellite into space on 7 July as a challenge to change things in the country. In a speech he delivered in parliament on Wednesday (12 July), Mubarak complained that the news of the milestone was first carried by the BBC which he described as a sad commentary on Ghana’s media which should have broken the news of the feat to the world.
“I first heard about the story on Friday on the BBC. Instinctively, I went online, scouring several sources for news of this historic satellite launch from local media. To my surprise, the story, as heart-warming as it is, received little or no local press coverage at the time it broke,” Mubarak, a professional journalist, observed. He called on the media to give “prominence to positive news of this historic nature the same way they do negative ones”.
Mubarak, who represents Kumbungu Constituency in Parliament, said Ghana must not only celebrate the scientific success of GhanaSat-1 but also take it as a serious challenge to commit more resources in support of educational and research institutions. “The nation must be seen to be investing and spending more on research and development,” the 38-year-old legislator said. “Data from the Ministry of finance show less than five percent of our GDP is spent on Research and Development.”
The MP, who was Chief Executive Officer of the National Youth Authority from 2013-2016, pointed out that Ghana was a consumption-based economy without much production taking place, a situation he blamed for the high unemployment rate in the country.
The team behind Ghana’s satellite feat! Ernest Teye Matey (left), Dr.Richard Damoah (Project coordinator, middle) and their colleague holding the satellite, GhanaSat-1 / Photo: ANU
“We have become a consumer-driven nation. And that explains why many of our youth are jobless – there’s very little we create or produce ourselves. We import just about everything – from tomatoes to the toothpicks we use,” he noted. “The focus has to change and it will require political and personal sacrifices.”
Mubarak challenged his country: “Let us have a freeze on the sort of things that we could comfortable create right here in Ghana if we put our minds to it and put in place the necessary investments.”
The MP said the feat of All Nations University Koforidua, which was behind the satellite launch, has shown what Ghanaians could achieve. He therefore called for the promotion of mathematics and science in the nation’s schools. “And to be successful at science and maths, we need universal internet access in every school in the country, and no child – be they from Kumbungu, Suame, Keta or La, must be left behind,” he added.
Concluding his submission, Mubarak said: “the world is changing so fast we just cannot afford to choose inaction as an option. We have to rise to the occasion and become competitive. If we can’t be the best in the world, if we can’t out-innovate Germany, Japan, America, China or India, let’s be the best in Africa, and if we can’t be the best in Africa, let’s be number one in West Africa. At least we must start from somewhere.”