The Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) produced Africa’s first solar-powered electric 4×4 automobile named ‘aCar’ in collaboration with the Technical University of Munich (TUM) Germany.
According to the university press release, the environmentally-friendly vehicle which is meant to carry passengers and goods was jointly developed by the Departments of Mechanical Engineering and Physics of the Colleges of Engineering and Science respectively, from KNUST and the Chair of Automobile Technology, Faculty of Engineering of the Technical University, Munich, (TUM) for the Global Drive Project “aCar Mobility”.
Early this week, students from Ghana’s All Nations University launched Ghana’s first satellite. The role of universities in technological advancement and national development is something many African universities are embracing, although there are challenges largely due to lack of funding. Ghana, in the past few days has shown the importance and role universities in Africa can play in moving society forward through technological advancement and harnessing of the potential in young people.
The solar-electric car comes at a time when countries in Europe are thinking of phasing out cars that run on fuel, and instead use cars that run on electricity. The end game would leave Africa as a dumping ground for these cars. With this solar-electric car, Africans could take control of their automobile industry and trade among themselves.
The press release further stated that, the collaboration was to investigate the mobility needs of Ghana by using different models to explore the possibility of developing a vehicle that is affordable, environment friendly using a high amount of locally available materials to respond to local needs.
Professor Kwasi Obiri-Danso, Vice-Chancellor of KNUST, said the invention was the University’s response to living up to its core mandate of spearheading development of innovative technologies.
The solar-powered vehicle, he said, was still being tested in Ghana over some period to bring it to the required standard. The vehicle was first exhibited at the Global Drive Fair 2016 at TUM last year and has been certified by the German Driver Vehicle Licensing Authority (TUEV).
Prof. Obiri-Danso noted that the College of Engineering had in recent times invented an open-space fire detector, solar-powered traffic lights and drones to support the nation’s development process. He called for adequate funding to enable the University to come up with cutting-edge technologies for the benefit of the nation.