Dr. Addo Koranteng (right) in a picture with Prof. Dr. Tobias Cremer (Dean of Forest and Environment @HNEE)Addo Koranteng (PhD) is a research fellow and lecturer with over 18 years of experience at leading Ghanaian and German research institutions, teaching students from various social and cultural backgrounds and conducting research in remote sensing and GIS application in environment, forestry and climate change. He is the Head of the Center for Research Development and Technology Incubation at the Kumasi Technical University, in Ghana. Currently he teaches as a DAAD sponsored guest lecturer at the Eberswalde University of Sustainable Development in Germany.
Where in Germany did you study? What did you study and in which year?
I studied at the Eberswalde University of Sustainable Development (HNEE) in Barnim for the international joint master programme “Forest Information Technology” in the year 2005 – 2007. Although my PhD was conducted mainly in the Warsaw University of Life Sciences, there was a close collaboration with HNEE. My PhD supervisor (Prof. Dr. Ing Tomasz Zawiła-Niedźwiecki) was a former Professor at the HNEE and I spent more of my time during the PhD at the HNEE. Technically most Universities of Applied Sciences in Germany do not offer PhD programs, but I received massive support from HNEE.
I must add that Dr. Astrid Schilling of HNEE and her husband Dr. Gerd Schilling are my parents here in Germany since I got to know them in 2005. In fact one of my children is named Astrid after her to cement the ties.
Are you still in touch with your institution/former colleagues from Germany?
Yes, I have always been in touch since I formally completed my studies there in 2007. During my PhD studies I spent a lot of time at HNEE. At least every two years I return to HNEE for one program or another. I am a very active alumnus of HNEE, a member of Horizonte and other students groups.
In 2019, I brought about the establishment of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between HNEE and Kumasi Technical University (KsTU) covering various levels of cooperation. Jointly with the Dean of the Faculty of Forest and Environment (Prof. Dr. Tobias Cremer), we have won an Erasmus Mobility grant for the exchange of Students and Staff between HNEE and KsTU the period 2020 – 2023.
I am currently sponsored by the DAAD as a Guest Lecturer at the faculty of Forest and Environment at HNEE teaching bachelor courses in the International Forest Ecosystem Management (IFEM) and master courses in Forest Information Technology (FIT) for this winter semester. We are constantly exploring additional areas of cooperation.
What was your PhD research about?
My PhD thesis was titled “Assessment of forest cover and land use change in Ghana as part of monitoring system in REDD mechanism” which was a logical continuation of my master thesis at HNEE titled “Land Use /Cover Change in The Kumasi Metropolis and Its Environs Based on the Analysis of Landsat Images”. I was adjudged as the best HNEE International Student in 2007 and received a prize money of 1000 Euros and a certificate from DAAD.
My PhD and Master’s thesis critically estimated, classified and mapped the forest cover and land use change over a twenty-year period between 1990 and 2010 in parts of the Ashanti and Western Regions of Ghana and then forecasted future trends in the Ashanti Region for the years 2020 and 2030. The results were integrated in a forestry oriented socio-economic comparative study in order to draw conclusions on the general patterns and causes of forest cover and land use change in the REDD mechanisms and formulated a method of monitoring that could be operationally used for REDD purposes.
Any specific outcomes from your research?
I have published at least four papers in peer reviewed international academic journals. This also inspired other research into other aspects of remote sensing/GIS application in forestry and environmental studies.
I worked with Rudan Engineering (Accra) and with the Forestry Commission on the Ghana Forest Preservation Project (FPP) as a Remote Sensing Specialist putting my expertise in service of my country.
Teaching, researching and contributing my quota in Ghana’s development agenda is something I cherish.
How did you first get interested in science?
Well, I am from a very humble family background which had very limited options. I had to wait several times to enroll in the then secondary school because of resource constraints. In fact, I have two big sisters who were academically brilliant but could not continue their education because of poverty. They could potentially be where I am today. I am the fifth born of seven siblings with many cousins in Kumasi. Poverty and limited resources impacted my childhood as my mother was a single parent. It has been the sheer grace of God and the tacit support I received from my ‘illiterate’ mother and family. I happened to be selected at Prempeh College to study science because the school saw I could do it and most essentially my elder sister Lydia who was a science student ahead of me at St. Monica’s Secondary School could help me and I could use her old books as well.
Science interested me because I wanted to escape poverty and to build a decent house for my mother. We lived in a single room at South Suntreso in Kumasi and had to shuffle from one house to another because we were many and poor. School was the only escape from poverty and squalor.
Your outlook on higher education and internationalization
We do not need to reinvent the wheel as the popular axiom goes. We need to learn from developed nations and incorporate their ideas and models to solve our many challenges. The Technical Universities in Ghana especially ought to function as their counterpart here (Universities of Applied Sciences) in Germany; offering practical solutions to our many problems.
Unfortunately, most of our research work have not been implemented and sadly some colleagues use the many problems we have as avenues to write winnable proposals but have had very limited impact on poverty alleviation.
Higher education in Ghana could benefit from the expertise in developed nations like Germany through regular study programs (bachelor, master, PhD and others). We could also institute practical internships for exchanges and most essentially collaborative research with other scientists in developed countries.
Your advice to the next-generation Ghanaian scientist will be….
Dare to dream and seek collaborations with International partners (scholars and donors) to address the many challenges confronting us. The DAAD offices and other organizations are on the grounds in Ghana to offer support for any scientists who will dare to dream.