The Second Vice Chancellor of Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), Kumasi, Ghana, was not an engineer or a scientist, he was a distinguished physician. Dr. Emanuel Evans-Anfom, who served from 1967 to 1973, was appointed by the military regime that overthrew Kwame Nkrumah on February 24, 1966, to replace Nkrumah’s friend, Dr. RP Baffour. The new Vice Chancellor was not well received at a science and technology university that did not have a medical school. The general opinion among the academic staff was that the vice-chancellor should be associated with one of the existing faculties of the university. However, by the end of his tenure it was generally agreed that Dr. Evans-Anfom had been a successful leader, not least because he made the decision to establish the Technology Consulting Center (TCC) before it had any guarantee from the government or international development agencies that funds would be provided.
Dr. Evans-Anfom came from a prominent Accra mixed-blood family, as indicated by the Welsh name Evans. An affable light-skinned, soft-spoken gentleman with an upper-class English accent, Dr. Evans-Anfom matched the perception many people had of a successful Harley Street specialist. It may have been his appearance and his mannerisms that prolonged his unpopularity, but there was no doubt that Dr. Evans-Anfom had more than usual difficulty chairing the Academic Council and winning his support for the various initiatives of his. In fact, his rule might have been nearly impossible had it not been for the support of a strong minority of expatriate members.
Dr. Evans-Anfom firmly believed that a university should not only teach and research; it should also have a ‘third role’ in community service. He wanted KNUST to be not an Ivory Tower but a dynamic force in national economic development. Shortly after taking office, he asked Dr. EF Schumacher’s Intermediate Technology Development Group (ITDG) to send a mission to Kumasi to advise on the ‘third role’ of the university. The mission of Sir John Palmer and Mr George McRobbie was carried out, and a plan for a Technology Consulting Center was drawn up. Then in 1971, Professor Harold Dickinson of the University of Edinburgh spent six months at KNUST talking to local businessmen and entrepreneurs to gain community support for the initiative.
Having a doctor run KNUST exacerbated a longstanding grievance in Ghanaian academic circles. Lecturers and professors at the University of Ghana College of Medicine, Legon, Accra, received a salary supplement to make up for the lack of opportunities for consultancy work. KNUST engineers felt that they too should be paid the supplement or allowed to do paid consulting for outside agencies. The dispute led to a crisis in 1970 with the resignation of 13 engineering professors.
With the help of the Association of Commonwealth Universities, London, short- and long-term replacements were recruited from the UK and elsewhere, arriving in Kumasi in early 1971. The university now had a body of young foreign academics eager to participating in the new field of (appropriate) intermediate technology, as well as a group of Ghanaian engineers equally eager for paid external consulting contracts. The time seemed right to go ahead with the TCC, which could meet both needs, but funds were not available for this purpose. It was then that Dr. Evans-Anfom decided to release funds from the university’s meager reserves and asked the first director to open the TCC office on January 11, 1972.
Two days later, the democratically elected government of Prime Minister Kofi Busia was overthrown in a military coup that brought Colonel IK Acheampong to power. Changes at the top were expected to herald changes in national institutions and Dr. Evans-Anfom must have felt that his days as Vice Chancellor were numbered. However, he was able to hold on for over a year and, shortly after his departure in 1973, he reappeared as the government’s Commissioner of Education. It was in this capacity that he visited KNUST in his ministerial Range Rover luxury 4×4 saloon, and visited the TCC to review progress. He with some pride he referred to himself as ‘The Father of the Technology Consulting Center’.