The International Year of Light and Light based technologies (IYL) was on Monday observed in Ghana at the start of a three-day conference and exhibition being hosted in Accra.
Dubbed, the Africa Regional Conference and Exhibition, the celebration was being observed on the theme: “Harnessing Light and Light-Based Technologies for Africa’s Development”.
The year 2015 has been declared by the United Nations General Assembly as the International Year of Light and Light-Based Technologies, which stands to promote the central role of light in enhancing the many opportunities derived from the utilisation of light and light-based technologies for the welfare of mankind.
There are similar celebrations being marked in Ethiopia, Mexico, South Africa, Egypt, Spain, France, USA and other UN member countries.
Ghana mooted for the celebration of the 2015 as the Year of Light, at the 2012 UNESCO meeting, which was widely accepted by other countries, leading to the proclamation of the day by the UN.
At the opening of the celebration of the Day, President John Dramani Mahama whose speech was read on his behalf said it was Ghana’s initiative which brought about the celebration of the event.
He lauded the global acceptance which had brought into the limelight the need to explore further the potential of light to improve livelihood, build communities, and connect people in new ways.
President Mahama said the tide of light-based technologies is still on the ascendency, with unprecedented opportunities for improvements in agriculture and health, the delivery of energy and social services, and for wealth creation.
“We owe it to our continent-to the present generation and to generations to come-to translate these opportunities into lasting transformations in our communities,” President Mahama said.
The President said the persistence of the global digital divide, also remains an indicator of the widening disparities between Africa and the developed world in spite of the impressive penetration of mobile telephony on the continent.
He said the celebration of the International Year of light and light-based technologies would as part of its objectives, bring to the fore, some of the challenges of theses disparities and point the ways in which light-based technologies could help bridge the gaps.
“Light has indeed fuelled virtually every innovation, and light provides the large bandwidths that support modern communications technologies,” the President said.
President Mahama also announced that as part of the outcomes of the year-long celebration, the Laser and Fibre Optics Centre at the University of Cape Coast would be transformed into a fully-fledged institute, paving the way for the sub-region to develop the needed man-power in harnessing light and the technologies of light to develop.
He said Lasers have improved delivery of medical care, provided new imaging, surgical, and therapeutic modalities that better address various health care objectives.
He endorsed the establishment in the country of a sub-regional Laser Medical Application Laboratory to train medical practitioners to make use of relevant laser technologies in the field of urology, ophthalmology, dentistry and general surgery in two of the major hospitals in Ghana.
President Mahama further said in partnership with the Federal Republic of Germany, plans were far advanced for the establishment of a Solar Technology Research Centre in Ghana.
It will have a broad mandate to investigate among other things the scientific underpinnings of solar energy technologies and develop technologies that address present and emerging challenges in the solar energy sector.
Professor Naana Jane Opoku-Agyemang, the Minister of Education who doubles as the Chairperson of the Ghana National Commission for UNESCO, said science and light had become a key cross-cutting discipline of social sciences, the arts and engineering in the 21st century.
She said it was essential that light and the application of light-based technologies were appreciated by everyone.
Prof Opoku-Agyemang said light technologies serve to promote sustainable development and provide solutions to global challenges in education, health, communication, energy and agriculture.
She said the hosting of the conference would therefore promote interaction and dialogue among academicians, industries and professionals in using optics and photonics concepts in tapping developmental strategies for communities.
This would help policy makers to appreciate the relevance for support for science in economic development.
Prof Opoku-Agyemang said aside the three facilities announced by President Mahama, there would also be the establishment of a museum of Light and Light-based Technologies as part of solutions to the post-2015 UN development agenda.
She charged the participants to demonstrate how the school curricula on physics and related subjects could be reviewed as to enable students to be innovate in the areas of energy production.
“We look forward to ways of reducing our status as consumers of solar products to creators of same, since we have the natural resource in such great abundance,” she added.
Prof. Francis K. Allotey, Chairman of the Local Organising Committee of the International Year of Light and Light-based Technologies, explained that the celebration demonstrate that the world appreciate the contribution of scientists in the field of light and how it could be used to solve interdisciplinary problems such as health, energy and suing photonic devices to improve the quality of life. GNA