Heart of Arts

Agenda 2044: Transforming the African University College of Communications

Toyin Falola

Transformation does not always imply that what existed was bad; sometimes, it is about scaling to a higher level, creating bigger missions, and envisioning a more elaborate future. The African University College of Communications (AUCC) is a model higher institution that has proven that an African educational institution can devise its mission and goals and deliver on the same within a set time. This is not to say that the university has fully exhausted its list of achievable goals because doing this and running out of fresher and more innovative goals would imply that the institution has outlived its usefulness to African society.

In this piece that I have titled “Agenda 2044,” the transformation that I expect to see at the AUCC transcends the scope of the institution’s current mission and vision and will help catapult it to a position where it will significantly impact the development of the African continent and rivals some of the world’s best faculties and institutions of communication. This envisioned transformation has a five-part agenda: technological advancement and a response to the robotic age; the penetration of rural and remote places; global competitiveness; regional dominance; and Pan-Africanism and social justice.

 

Technological Advancement and a Response to the Robotic Age

The world is increasingly becoming technologically advanced, and the biggest gainers of the future will be countries, continents, industries, and people who are invested in technology today and devise the means to create technological innovations to solve the projected problems of the future.

Today, technological advancement seems to be moving a hundred times faster than it did in the past few centuries. For instance, innovations the human race could never have dreamed of are manifesting, such as the digitization of arts through non-fungible tokens (NFTs), the blockchain world and decentralized finance, and the metaverse. The rapid and seeming concurrent emergence of these technologies also means a widening and almost uncontrollable language gap. New vocabularies are emerging at a rate that makes it almost impossible to get equivalents in other languages. Moreover, since language is the key to accessing new and emerging technologies, the lack of adequate vocabulary representing these new technologies in a given language means that the people who solely speak that language are automatically disadvantaged and less likely to tap into the opportunities that such emerging technologies offer.

There is a budding need for research endeavors to bridge the communication gap that will continue to emerge as these new technologies boom. Also, there is a need for research into strategies for mitigating vocabulary loss during such disruptive innovations as the world is currently experiencing and is likely to face in a larger dimension, technology-wise. As a forward-thinking institution, the AUCC must structure academic programs to help its students fully leverage the opportunities in the technological space. This has to go beyond courses that teach the basics of the digital world; the AUCC needs to invest research time into offering courses related to natural language processing, social and new media, and artificial intelligence.

By 2044, the institution must be at the forefront of innovations in communication technology. The school’s management and administration must look into ways to offer courses that serve as the nexus between communication, technology, and robotics.

 

The Penetration of Rural and Remote Places

One of the most significant responsibilities of academic institutions is the developmental contributions they are expected to make to their immediate community, society, country, continent, and the world at large. As a matter of importance, the AUCC needs to create structures and plans to penetrate rural and remote places, first in its immediate community, then its scholarship and academic endeavors must spread into the hinterlands. I know that the AUCC has its corporate social responsibilities and an existing town-gown relationship; still, the management needs to look into ways to strengthen such relationships to meet the expectations of global goals such as quality education. The university needs to enter into partnerships supporting and advancing its cause in remote and rural locations. There is the opportunity to identify and support raw talents from these remote and rural locations, thereby helping them to bridge the gap that lack of access and opportunities might otherwise have created.

 

Global Competitiveness

Over the past twenty years, the AUCC has proven its worth among other similar institutions on the continent. The quality of the vision, mission and the management and administration’s commitment to fulfilling these goals is almost unmatched elsewhere. The AUCC is a true testament that where there is a will, there is a mapped-out way leading to the pictured destination.

As the institution has ushered in yet another milestone, it is time for the management and administration to look beyond the present achievements, especially within the country. The AUCC is old enough to start competing globally, and the best way to do this is not necessarily to copy the curricula of universities on other continents. The AUCC can adopt an Afro-centric strategy to give it a competitive edge globally. It has to start from a comprehensive dissection of the communication-related problems that Ghana as a country and Africa as a continent are facing. Such problems range from corporate communication to political communication and the government’s lack of proper public relations strategies for the governed.

Regional Dominance

The AUCC’s competitive advantage and dominance must also reflect on the African continent. The institution’s management and administration must sustain and increase their work rate and commitment to fulfilling set goals to place the university on a higher pedestal. The university needs to double down on strategies that will help it attract students from other countries on the continent, so much so that the alumni network will experience exponential growth. In other words, the alumni network is one of the foundational catalysts for the growth and expansion of a higher institution of learning. Two decades from now, the African University College of Communications should boast a wide network of alumni holding vital positions in corporate organizations, governments, parastatals, and international organizations across the continent.

 

Pan-Africanism and Social Justice

In all its expansion and strategic innovation plans, the AUCC mustn’t lose sight of its commitment to Pan-Africanism and social justice. In the coming years, the university needs to consider offering courses on African anthropology, history, and archeology, as part of a cluster on the Indigenous Knowledge System. These courses are important because the best way to promote Pan-African initiatives is by first committing to Afrocentric research, such that the histories of the African people are not vague and blurry. Pan-Africanism is not just a feel-good ideology. It does not stop at mere adoption. It goes on to commitment, research, and implementation, all of which are expected from the institution in due course. By 2044, the AUCC should rank among the foremost promoters and champions of Afrocentric knowledge, research, and social justice.

Finally, if the track records of this institution in the past twenty years are anything to go by, there is an assurance that the management and administration will deliver on the promises, act on and achieve the set goals for the new milestone, and look into ways to strategically position the institution in a way that it does not only dominate in the African region but also favorably compete with other institutions globally.

Onward to 2044!

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