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CNN’s Inside Africa profiles the young innovators inspiring a new generation of scientists in Ghana

By: Graphic Business

In the latest edition of Inside Africa, CNN International met three individuals who are using science and technology to break new ground and inspire the next generation of innovators in Ghana.

The programme opens with Charles Ofori Antipem, who is helping thousands of kids in Ghana and across the world learn science with a kit the same size and price as a textbook.

Antipem founded Dext Technology three years ago in the hope of channelling his own childhood enthusiasm for science across the continent and beyond.

“I was six years old when I fell in love with science… I remember very well how those simple experiments influenced my love for science, my love for design and things that are functional. My dad was a great inspiration for me because then he was scientist and he didn't have much. But then the little he had, he managed to use it to inspire us in really beautiful ways.”

Knowing that a little material can go a long way, Dext’s science sets enable school children to carry out basic experiments from simple circuits to solar panels.

“The idea behind the science set is actually really simple.” Antipem explains. “What if you could create a science lab that was as small as the textbook and affordable enough such that every student could have their own? … What would happen if millions of students across the continent had access to tools that they can do experiments with and build robots and learn about solar panels and learn about electronics? And what would that mean?”

30,000 students around the world are currently using the science set.

Antipem told CNN how significant these developments are: “These stories are really, really inspiring to us and see that the young students are being empowered. They get the knowledge, they are able to see problems in society and they're empowered enough to use the knowledge they have to solve those problems. That is education coming full circle.”

The second innovator featured on Inside Africa was Ms Priscilla Mante, an award-winning Ghanaian neuroscientist, who has devoted her career to finding a cure for epilepsy.

Epilepsy affects around 65 million people worldwide is considered one of the top five medical issues in Ghana.

However, only 15 per cent of people in the country receive treatment, with many relying on herbal remedies instead.

“My interest in epilepsy research specifically came from my activity as a pharmacist and coming into contact with patients that have to live with epilepsy.” Mante told CNN.

“The goal for my entire research career is to find a cure for epilepsy. I know it sounds like a dream to most people, it may sound unrealistic, but I feel it is possible because there are a lot of substances in nature, which we haven't explored yet.”

“As a woman in science, you may have a few challenges because one, as a woman in society, your role for you has more or less been predefined, so you're supposed to be the mother, you're supposed to be the caretaker of the home, you're supposed to be the wife… There's always the question about how you are going to juggle your traditional roles in the path that you have chosen.”

Finally, Inside Africa met Ben Nortey – an innovator looking to bring robotics into the mainstream across Africa.

Nicknamed The Botmaster, Nortey has repurposed scrap metal from his home city in Accra into robotics which he hopes could eventually be a positive cultural change. Two years ago, he founded RoboCentre, which runs robotics, coding and AI workshops to over 1000 children in Accra and Tema.

Nortey tells CNN: “One thing I see is that over time we're seeing a lot of kids benefit from this work. And especially when I see a kid building robots, programming robots, building an electronic circuit... I mean it's so amazing to actually see, because when I was that age, I didn't have that opportunity or have access to materials and resources to be able to do that.”

“One key area we are looking at is autism. So, people with an autistic condition can actually have robots that can assist them with self-help skills and to be able to develop some skills that are quite essential.”