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Marvellous Measurements: Kick-off Event of New Project in Ghana

Already the Egyptians knew how important accurate measurements are – the pyramids stand testament to that. Measurements – and their impact – was what this 19 May in the Kempinski Gold Coast Hotel in Accra was all about. Here, just one day short of the World Metrology Day 2021, PTB’s project “Establishment of a Fit-for-Future National Metrology Institute in Ghana” was officially launched in the presence of many high-ranking guests. Among them were the Honourable Minister of Trade and Industry, Alan Kyerematen, the German Ambassador to Ghana, Christoph Retzlaff, the Head of Delegation of German Industry and Commerce in Ghana, Burkhardt Hellemann, Director General at the Ghana Standards Authority, Professor Alex Dodoo, and Professor Fred McBagonluri, Consultant at GSA. Professor Joachim Ullrich, President of PTB, and Dr. Barbara Siegmund, Head of the Sub-Saharan Africa Section at PTB’s International Cooperation, joined the event virtually from Germany.

“To create jobs, we must industrialise. To industrialise, we must modernise. A key part of modernisation and industrialisation is metrology.”

– Prof. Alex Dodoo

Enhancing the metrological capacities of the Ghana Standards Authority and thereby strengthening the country’s industrial development and leaving it well-equipped for the future and its challenges – that is the aim of the new project.  Ghana’s challenges are manifold: creating jobs for the youths who enter the Ghanaian job market every year, battling climate change, participating in global markets and in the opportunities digitalisation offers. Every single one of these is, in its own way, connected to metrology. As Professor Fred McBagonluri so aptly put it in his address: “Metrology is critical to everything we do.” Likewise, Professor Alex Dodoo underlined the importance of high-class metrological services: “To create jobs, we must industrialise. To industrialise, we must modernise. A key part of modernisation and industrialisation is metrology.”

The new project is thus providing support in exactly the right place. Alan Kyerematen drew attention to the fact that this is precisely the type of aid his country needs right now: catalytic aid. The project objective, as Christoph Retzlaff pointed out, fits perfectly with the Ghana beyond aid approach, which the Ghanaian President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo Addo set in motion. This approach envisions a self-reliant Ghana, that is economically stable, active in the global market and an attractive place for the next generation. Mr Retzlaff went on to emphasise the significance of standards by highlighting that metrology was an important building block for being competitive in export markets. The Ghanaian Minister of Trade and Industry saw it the same way: “If you want to play in the export market, you have to be sure that you respect standards and measurement. If we want to produce, we have to be able to trade.”

Professor Joachim Ullrich’s speech was transmitted from Germany.

When it comes to local production, the African Continental Free Trade Area, which came into force in 2019, offers enormous potential for enhancing manufacture and accelerating intra-African trade. Its secretariat is placed in Accra – “fitting perfectly with GSA’s ambitions”, Barbara Siegmund stressed. To implement these ambitions, a fit-for-future national metrology institute is vital. Professor McBagonluri indicated that a joint measurement system “ensures that nations are speaking the same language.” This is not only relevant for trading – whether it be in a single or global market – but was also a fitting reference to the signature of the Metre Convention in 1875. To establish uniform measurements was the goal on 20 May 1875 in Paris when representatives of seventeen nations signed the convention, and it still is today – which is why, each year on 20 May, we celebrate World Metrology Day.

By achieving higher calibration standards, GSA will be able to provide internationally recognised metrology services to the region in West Africa. Hence, local production, and, in turn, Ghana’s social and economic development, will be fostered, Professor Joachim Ullrich explained. Consumer protection is another integral part of the project, showing again that metrology is the golden thread when it comes to our daily lives as well as to the broader scope of a nation’s position in the international economic context. As Alan Kyerematen expressed it: “Without measurement, it means that anything can happen.”

To prevent anything – that is, chaos – from happening, GSA and PTB, now in their sixteenth year of cooperation, continue their resourceful efforts to provide relevant and first-rate metrological services. Underlying this collaboration is not only the common interest in advancing uniformity in international metrology, but a mutual respect, which makes its presence felt: Burkhardt Hellemann addressed this “heartwarming and professional cooperation” in his speech, saying that “good human relationships, this is at least my experience after five years in Ghana, are the basis for a constructive and impactful cooperation between two countries from different continents.” We are very much looking forward to continuing the journey with our partners at GSA!

You missed the event? Click here to watch the recorded live stream.


Prof. Alex Dodoo (15:24)

Prof. Dr. h. c. Joachim Ullrich (22:55)

Dr. Barbara Siegmund (33:50)

Burkhardt Hellemann (41:30)

Prof. Fred McBagonluri (46:54)

Christoph Retzlaff (54:20)

Hon. Alan John Kwadwo Kyerematen (1:01:00)

George Anti (1:22:48)

Images © Okyere Photography