#IWD2024: Impactful Investment: African Development Bank Support Shapes Scholarship Graduate Career In Drone-Enabled Public Health


(MENAFN- African Press Organization)
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The African Development Bank's ( )
Japan Africa Dream Scholarship program invests in promising African students from Bank member countries at partner universities in Africa and Japan, financing their tuition, travel, and upkeep for post-graduate studies. The program aligns with the goal of the Bank's Skills for Employability and Productivity in Africa, which is to increase innovation connected to industrialization and development needs.

Scholarship program alumna Mary Yeboah Asantewaa earned her Master of Science degree in Public Health Management from Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University in May 2023. We asked her about her experience.

Please tell us more about how the Japan Africa Dream Scholarship, financed by the Government of Japan's Ministry of Finance, prepared you for your current job at SORA Technology, a Japanese firm in Ghana.

The Japan Africa Dream Scholarship program was instrumental in shaping my career path, offering me the freedom to pursue internship opportunities that aligned with my aspirations, and providing monthly support to facilitate this. This autonomy was transformative. I found SORA Technology, a company whose mission resonated deeply with my goals to enhance public health surveillance across Africa by adopting innovative technology.

This pivotal choice effectively bridged my academic knowledge and the practical demands of the business world. Now, as the SORA Technology's Head of Africa Business, I am leveraging the comprehensive educational foundation laid by Japan Africa Dream Scholarship to devise and implement innovative business strategies that advance public health technology throughout the continent. This skill is not just a personal milestone but a testament to the real-world applicability and impact of my Japan Africa Dream Scholarship-sponsored education in addressing public health challenges with cutting-edge technology.

You'd said in the past that your dream is to use drones to save lives in Africa. What does that mean? To what degree has your educational experience accelerated progress toward reaching that goal?

The dream of using drones is not just about saving lives in emergencies but also about fundamentally strengthening public health systems across Africa. Their vulnerability was starkly highlighted during the pandemic when drones emerged as a critical tool for delivering medical supplies. My internship with SORA Technology opened my eyes to the broader applications of drones beyond delivery. They are pivotal in addressing global health challenges ranging from infectious diseases to climate-related issues. The current flagship project at SORA focuses on cost-effective malaria control. It is attracting interest from stakeholders in Ghana, Sierra Leone, Togo, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Benin and other African nations. My education, supported by the Japan Africa Dream Scholarship, provided a comprehensive foundation in public health management and technology, and set me on a trajectory to explore and implement drone technology in ways that profoundly impact public health infrastructure and disease control in Africa.

This year's International Women's Day theme is“Invest in women, accelerate progress.” To what degree does this theme apply to your Japan Africa Dream Scholarship experience?

This year's International Women's Day theme, "Invest in women, accelerate progress," perfectly encapsulates my journey with the Japan Africa Dream Scholarship. (A paid) internship is a pivotal component of the scholarship program and catalyzed a series of firsts for me at SORA Technology. I became the first African woman to be officially employed and the first African woman to join the management team and advocate for public health innovation. This progression underscores the profound impact of investing in women's education. It affirms the belief that when women get the right opportunities, particularly in Science Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, they don't just fill roles; they break barriers and pave new paths. My experience with the Japan Africa Dream Scholarship attests to how targeted educational investments in women can accelerate societal progress and lead to significant contributions in fields where we are underrepresented.

Some youth with similar international experience and graduates in public health management are seeking employment opportunities outside the African continent. You chose to return to Ghana per the scholarship's conditions. How do you feel about that decision?

My decision to return to Ghana and work with SORA Technologies was driven by a singular vision: to support Africa in developing a robust public health surveillance system. As SORA's Head of Africa Business, I wanted not only to rejoin my home country but also to pioneer the adoption of innovative solutions that could transform our healthcare infrastructure. At SORA Technology, I got a better understanding of the critical need for digitalization, reliability, effectiveness, and impact in our health structures, starting with Ghana and then expanding to other African nations. This commitment to effecting change is fueled by the knowledge and skills I acquired abroad and that I was determined to use in addressing the pressing needs of our continent. SORA is a beacon of innovation and transformation as it strives to raise Africa's health surveillance systems to global standards. My choice reflects a deep-seated belief in the power of technology to make our healthcare systems more efficient and impactful and ensure a healthier future for Africa.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of African Development Bank Group (AfDB).

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