Inventor Dr. Mensah pushes for high speed rail system in Ghana
A Ghanaian-American-fibre optics inventor, Dr Thomas Owusu Mensah, says he is collaborating with the Chinese government to develop a high-speed rail system for Ghana.
According to him, the proposed high-speed rail system would link northern Ghana to the southern part, using the fibre optic technology to optimise travel time at about 200 miles per hour (mph).
That, he said, would mean travelling from Tamale to Accra would take one and a half hours.
Dr Mensah, 67, announced this when he addressed a dinner organised by the Adisadel Old Boys Association (Santaclausians) in Accra last Saturday.
The dinner was held to honour him for his contribution to the world of technology.
He said if the proposal was adopted, the project could be done in three years at a cost of US$6 billion and it would provide jobs for about one million people during the construction stage.
Dr Mensah said the 10 fastest high-speed rail systems in the world were in Japan, France, China, Germany and Canada, leading the pack, followed by emerging countries such as India, Saudi Arabia, Mexico, Morocco, Ethiopia and Zambia.
He said if Morocco, Ethiopia and Zambia could use the high-speed technology, Ghana ought to be there as well, noting that it was surprising that “we are not even thinking about it”.
“We cannot, in the 21st century, have a single lane road and travel to Tamale in nine hours. That is impeding the development of Ghana and we can’t have that. Therefore, we are proposing what is called high-speed train -Bullet train - to be built in Ghana from Accra, Takoradi through Kumasi to Tamale,” he said.
He said India had just signed a contract for the Japanese to build a high-speed train for India and Dr Mensah, said he wanted Ghana to use the India model.
Dr Mensah, together with three other people, pioneered the manufacture of fibre optics and communications systems to help make data transmission on the Internet faster and carry more data than copper cable without interference.
A fibre optic cable is faster because it carries more than a thousand times the bandwidth of a copper cable and more than 100 times farther as well.
Dr Mensah is noted for dramatically improving fibre optic cables.
He has 14 patents, seven of which were awarded within six years, and was inducted into the US National Academy of Inventors in 2015.
Dr Mensah also hinted that he was leading a team from the USA to partner the government to construct a maintenance facility at the Kumasi Airport.
The facility, he said, was to attract international aircraft flying to Ghana and other West African countries to do their maintenance in Ghana to help open up the county’s aviation industry.
The Asantehene, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, had provided a 20-acre land for the proposed project at Jachie Pramso in the Bosomtwe District of the Ashanti Region.
Dr Mensah said it would be an opportunity to train engineers from the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), as well as secondary school students as mechanics.
He said he had already asked the KNUST Engineering School to do a mapping of the proposed site and added that he and his team were already doing a similar project in Istanbul, Turkey.
The Santaclausians presented Dr Mensah with a citation, a medal, a gold ring and a piece of Adisadel cloth for his contribution to the development of fibre optics and nanotechnology, smaller devices and technologies that produce better and more efficient results.
He completed Adisadel College in Cape Coast in 1968.
Led by Santa Kojo Yankah, Sir Sam Jonah, an old boy and renowned businessman, decorated Dr Mensah with the medal.
Mr Prince Kofi Amoabeng handed over the gold ring to Dr Mensah, while Dr Sam Mensah presented the cloth to him.
The citation read: “The Adisadel Old Boys Association (AOBA) proudly presents the AOBA Distinguished Award for Excellence, 2017 to you, Dr Thomas Owusu Mensah, Santa 68, for your outstanding achievements, inventions in fibre optics and nanotechnology which have impacted the world’s scientific and technological advancement.”
Dr Mensah did his undergraduate studies in Chemical Engineering at the KNUST from 1970 to1974.
He won a French government fellowship in 1974 to do graduate studies in Chemical Engineering at the Montpelier University in France.
He attended Adisadel College, Cape Coast, where he obtained his ‘O’ and ‘A’ Level certificates in 1968 and 1970, respectively.
He holds a Ph.D in Chemical Engineering from the Montpelier University and a certificate in Modelling of Chemical Processes from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.