African Innovation Through Research

Abu YayaGhanaian  academic Dr. Abu Yaya has created an electrical insulator, specifically an electro porcelain insulator. Electro porcelain is widely used to insulate electric cables, in homes, on the railways, and telecom systems that use electricity.  Dr. Yaya found that Ghana currently imports all the electro porcelain mostly from Asia and wanted to find ways in which locals could reduce the expense. He has found a way to develop electro porcelain using local raw materials water and a furnace.
He believes that it makes sense economically for Ghana to address the feasibility of having its own electro-porcelain industry given the sources of raw materials known to be in Ghana. For example, quartz, used as a filler, is found in Akwatia, feldspar, used as a flux, is found in Akyem-Akroso and kaolin, used as a clay, is found in Nkroful, Assin-Fosu and Kumasi. In this CAPREx research project, electro-porcelain ceramics will be formulated from these deposits and the properties of the resultant fired materials will be explored in relation to their workability, firing temperature, dielectric and mechanical characteristics. A comparison will be made with internationally sourced electro-porcelain ceramics in order to ensure any new developed electro-porcelain ceramics are able to meet international standards.
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Dr. Yaya describes his interesting journey as the first person to receive a formal education and the first to earn a Ph.D. in his family. His research involves the use of ab initio density functional modelling programme (AIMPRO) and experimental optical spectroscopic techniques to study several important examples of weak intermolecular interactions in carbon nanomaterials. At the quantum mechanical level, calculations give a reliable and improved understanding of the role and feature of weak intermolecular interactions, which cannot be accurately predicted by conventional methods such as classical interatomic potentials. Also, in order to fully verify the theoretical calculations experimental tool such as resonant Raman and FT-IR are used to shed light on these interactions. Some useful applications of these are for understanding charge transfer interactions, photoconductivity and sensors.

Presently, he is looking at the fabrication and characterization of polymer and other filler materials such as graphene, graphites, nanotubes and clays which has specialized applications such as electro-porcelain insulators, lightweight composites & sensors.


In 2012, South Africa won the bid to host the largest part of the international Square Kilometre Array (SKA) radio telescope project. It will consist of more than 2,500 telescopes spread out across the nation and partner countries in Africa. The combined signals from these antennae, along with those in Australia, will form the largest radio telescope in the world.

This film explores how the project — as well as unlocking some of the mysteries of the universe — will lead to South Africa and its African partners acquiring the technological and scientific research skills needed to contribute to today’s global knowledge economy.


Brazil is helping to increase the research capacity of Mozambique’s under-resourced health system. The Brazilian Oswaldo Cruz Foundation (Fiocruz), working with the Mozambican National Institute of Health, has adapted a model for training postgraduate researchers in Mozambique that could be replicated elsewhere in Africa. The set-up reduces the risk of ‘brain drain’ and ensures students’ research is relevant to national needs, according to the Oswaldo Cruz Institute director Wilson Savino.

Courtesy of University of Ghana, Cambridge University and SciDev.


  1. It is good that Africans can now stay in their home countries & pursue their own dreams in solving African problems.

  2. It was smart policy for SA government to require educational opportunities from this corporation. All those Africans getting PhDs & masters will change the educational landscape of South Africa. Policy makes a difference .

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