African Engineers: Sosthenes Buatsi

Sosthenes Buatsi was the primary particular person to be appointed a Analysis Fellow within the new Know-how Consultancy Centre (TCC) of the Kwame Nkrumah College of Science and Know-how (KNUST), Kumasi, Ghana, when it opened in 1972. In August 1980, Sosthenes Buatsi turned the primary Supervisor of an Intermediate Know-how Switch Unit (ITTU) when the pilot ITTU started working in Suame Journal. Below his stewardship, till September 1986 when he was appointed the primary Ghanaian Director of the TCC, the Suame ITTU achieved a degree of efficiency in know-how switch that has by no means been surpassed. But Sosthenes Buatsi nonetheless discovered time to ascertain his personal non-public enterprise, Ayigya Steel Merchandise Ltd, which was copied 100 occasions and impressed an trade using 5 thousand employees.

Earlier than he joined the TCC in August 1972, Sosthenes Buatsi had spent eighteen months gaining post-graduate work expertise in Switzerland. A graduate of KNUST’s Faculty of Artwork with a BSc diploma in steel initiatives design, Sosthenes was at all times a hands-on particular person with sensible in addition to designing expertise. To assist him meet the problem of managing the ITTU, Sosthenes was given go away to attend a one-year MSc course in industrial administration within the college’s newly fashioned Division of Economics and Industrial Administration.

When he moved to Suame Journal to handle the ITTU, Sosthenes confronted a singular problem. The purpose of the ITTU was to exhibit new manufacturing applied sciences and the manufacture of latest merchandise and invite self-employed artisans to return for coaching, resulting in the switch of the exercise to personal workshops. On the similar time the ITTU wanted to promote the merchandise of its workshops, each to be able to stability its books and to exhibit the viability of the brand new merchandise within the native market. Nevertheless, when non-public workshops took over an innovation from the ITTU, there was at all times the hazard of the ITTU being accused of competing with its personal protégés. To keep away from this, the ITTU wanted to maneuver onto new actions as quickly because the market may very well be provided by the non-public sector. Managing the ITTU demanded an outward give attention to the wants of shopper artisans and a excessive diploma of sensitivity and suppleness.

Few individuals have achieved this mix of expertise in addition to Sosthenes Buatsi. Most of his successors who’ve tried and failed have achieved so as a result of their focus was on producing earnings for the ITTU workshops reasonably than on sub-contracting orders to shoppers as quickly because the shoppers acquired the means to supply the products. Discovering sufficient work to maintain the ITTU workshops busy was the accountability of the Chief Technician and Sosthenes Buatsi was enormously assisted on this space by Edward Opare and the Principal Technician answerable for the Plant Building Part, Daniel Cheku. With this highly effective staff the Suame ITTU carried out its full perform in know-how switch and balanced its books by way of years of political upheaval, electrical energy energy cuts and three-day-working.

After taking on in September 1986, Sosthenes Buatsi’s service as Director of the TCC was marked by the introduction of quite a few new applied sciences together with the manufacture of bicycle trailers and hand carts, concrete roofing tiles and refractory ceramic crucibles for steel casting. He additionally initiated an enlargement of the TCCs agricultural initiatives to incorporate animal husbandry in affiliation with minimum-tillage crop manufacturing and the formulation of locally-produced feed for fish farming. His crowning achievement was to win and efficiently execute a contract to handle a three-year rural industrial improvement undertaking in Malawi funded by the World Financial institution. This undertaking concerned Sosthenes Buatsi spending many months in commuting to Malawi, and consultants from the TCC and KNUST made quite a few visits over the three yr interval, with a number of spending as much as six months on their mission. By this effort, about twelve rural trade applied sciences developed and/or tailored in Kumasi had been transferred to Malawi, hundreds of kilometres to the south.

When he returned from Switzerland in 1972, Sosthenes Buatsi introduced with him a steel spinning lathe. The machine was used sporadically within the TCC’s campus workshop and it was not till the late Nineteen Eighties that Sosthenes determined to make use of it in a small household enterprise. At first, progress was gradual resulting from shortages of uncooked materials: non-ferrous steel sheets, however issues acquired higher when Aluworks Ltd started producing aluminium sheets in Tema and promoting them on native markets. Sosthenes moved his enterprise to Tema to be nearer the supply of uncooked materials and persuaded his brother, Robert, then an officer of the GRATIS Undertaking in Tema, to oversee the work. Ayigya Steel Merchandise Ltd, producing aluminium pots, pans and bowls of nice selection and engaging design, and promoting at costs throughout the attain of most individuals, revealed a market of monumental potential.

Many native merchants and artisans sought to arrange steel spinning enterprises however the spinning lathes weren’t obtainable. The Tema ITTU took up the matter, and with the total cooperation of the Buatsi brothers, Kofi Asiamah’s Redeemer Workshop in Tema was helped to supply replicas of the Swiss machine. Inside a decade the trade in Tema encompassed multiple hundred small enterprises using an estimated 5 thousand employees.

By this time Sosthenes Buastsi was retired however retained by the TCC as a advisor. Denying himself the spoils of a simple life abroad, Sosthenes Buatsi spent the entire of his working profession, and nicely into retirement, within the service of Ghana and of Africa. He set an instance that his contemporaries could admire, and his successors ought to take as a task mannequin.

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