Frank Robertson Jnr wasn’t strictly an Africa engineer. He was, nevertheless, an Afro-American engineer from Texas who labored efficiently in Ghana for greater than twenty years. Coming again house to Africa within the Sixties, on the invitation of Kwame Nkrumah, he ran a small engineering firm in Accra till falling out along with his fellow Afro-American enterprise accomplice within the early Eighties. Then, providing his providers to the US Company for Worldwide Growth (USAID), he was appointed Technical Adviser to Ghana’s second Intermediate Know-how Switch Unit (ITTU) slowly coming into existence at Tamale within the Northern Area. A pure applicable technologist, Frank Robertson excelled on this function, and it was largely to his credit score that the ITTU gained the assist of the native individuals and have become a major engine of change in considered one of Ghana’s most disadvantaged areas.
From 1975 till 1979 the Know-how Consultancy Centre (TCC) of the Kwame Nkrumah College of Science and Know-how (KNUST), Kumasi, looked for monetary assist for the ITTU idea. It was the intention of the TCC engineers to find the primary ITTU within the centre of Ghana’s largest casual industrial space, Suame Journal in Kumasi. By 1979, USAID and the Canadian Worldwide Growth Company (CIDA) had agreed in precept to assist an ITTU, however each businesses needed it situated within the north of Ghana, lots of of kilometres from the TCC in Kumasi. After additional prolonged negotiations, CIDA was persuaded to assist the ITTU at Suame and USAID opted for Tamale, the capital of the Northern Area. Each USAID and CIDA appointed technical advisers to work with the TCC and the person chosen to assist set up the Tamale ITTU was Frank Robertson.
Frank Robertson had labored for a few years because the supervisor of All-Afra Engineering Ltd in Accra. Throughout this era Frank noticed a necessity for an inexpensive electrical welding set and taught two small workshops to fabricate these machines and supply them on the market. This was one of many earliest examples of engineering manufacturing in Ghana and copies of Frank’s welder have been quickly being made not solely in Accra however in Kumasi, Tema and different city centres. This growth had a mass impact in serving to many younger individuals arrange in self-employment as jobbing welders. All-Afra’s work was primarily involved with new building, plant set up and repairs for formal sector industries and Frank had few different alternatives to work with the casual sector till he joined the Tamale ITTU staff within the early Eighties.
The college’s Division of Structure had designed a brand new constructing for the Tamale ITTU and USAID introduced a pre-fabricated construction from the USA. Nevertheless, all constructing supplies have been in brief provide, together with cement and metal reinforcing rods and it was estimated that there can be a two-year delay earlier than the foundations and flooring slab can be prepared.
Frank was not content material to take a seat and wait, so he proposed establishing an Acceptable Know-how Membership (ATC) within the giant backyard of the Venture Adviser’s bungalow. He invited younger women and men to come back and check out their concepts for brand new small enterprises. With a centre lathe and electrical welding set Frank transformed the storage right into a mechanical workshop. With work benches beneath shade bushes, engineers and carpenters started making weaving looms and beehives to patterns equipped by the TCC and cotton spinning wheels of Frank’s personal design, in addition to prototypes made to check concepts submitted by members of the ATC. Quickly Frank was coaching cotton spinners on the veranda of the bungalow and broadloom weavers in the primary corridor. A beehive far off beneath one other shade tree offered an early alternative for coaching beekeepers. Frank was decided that by the point the ITTU constructing was prepared there can be a nucleus of exercise on which to construct. He had additionally ensured the goodwill and full cooperation of the group which took to coronary heart all that Frank was doing for his or her profit.
Earlier than Frank left Tamale in August 1986 the ITTU constructing had been accomplished and all its plant put in, together with a well-equipped machine store, a welding and metal fabrication store, a carpentry workshop, an iron foundry and a 60KVA standby generator. Frank referred to as it the best engineering workshop north of the Volta River. The individuals of Tamale appeared on Frank as God’s reward to their group and lots of expressed their grief at his closing departure. Frank would have favored to remain. He left as a result of his Ghanaian spouse may see no future for his or her anticipated baby in Flight Lieutenant Rawlings’ revolutionary Ghana. She persuaded Frank to take his household again to Texas. Invited by one head of state, repelled by one other, Frank did his greatest for the continent of his forebears. It was a greatest that shall be lengthy remembered in Tamale.
Source by John Powell
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