Tribute to Professor S.K.B. Asante
We pause to remember and celebrate the life of a distinguished son of Ghana and dedicated Pan-Africanist who was driven by a dream and passion to promote the realisation of African regional integration, as a key development strategy for the continent.
Prof SKB Asante liked to quip that his life’s journey was unpaved with “No Road Signs, No Manual.” However, by God’s grace, Prof’s journey led him to build his own capacity, during the early days of Ghana’s independence, first as a Civil Servant and then as an Administrator at the University of Ghana. The University work whetted his appetite to steer his professional work through advanced graduate degrees at the London School of Economics. In turn, these educational achievements led him to an extraordinary academic career through lectureships at the University of Ghana, as well as Harvard and Florida International University in the U.S.
Prof. often spoke about his time in America and, in particular, the occasion when he attended the Canadian African Studies Conference in 1984 where he met the acclaimed Prof. Adebayo Adedeji who was highly impressed by Prof. Asante’s scholarship. Prof Adedeji astutely recruited Prof. Asante to work at the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA). This pivotal meeting led to Prof Asante’s illustrious career as an international and continental servant, working as a Senior Cabinet Adviser with particular focus to promote Economic Cooperation and Integration. In addition, he advised the governments and capacity building institutions of the newly independent Southern African Development Community (SADC) states of Namibia and South Africa.
Upon retirement, Prof neither slowed down nor relaxed, but rather continued working at a remarkably busy pace, teaching M.A. courses in Regional Integration at the University of Ghana’s Legon Centre for International Affairs and Diplomacy (LECIAD), while simultaneously publishing articles and books, and providing sustained and crucial advisory services to the Government of Ghana and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). Prof. Asante used to mention, with great satisfaction, four areas of advisory services he rendered to promote region-building as being his “finest hour” and greatest contributions. These included his: i) role in the evaluation of the ECOWAS Treaty; ii) advice to establish the West African Monetary Zone (WAMZ) and the West African Monetary Institute (WAMI); iii) recommendations to build the capacity of ECOWAS National Units for the betterment of West African sub regional integration; and iv) advocacy to establish a whole ministry dedicated to the national business of regional integration—the Ministry of Regional Integration and NEPAD.
In his “retirement”, Prof Asante’s international, continental, regional and national experiences continued to shape and propel his passionate drive to address a persisting gap in African regionalism and development—the lack of human capacity to manage regional integration processes. His clear-eyed vision to meet capacity needs of regional economic communities, governments, private sector and civil society is what gave birth to the mission and vision of the Centre for Regional Integration in Africa (CRIA).
The Board of Trustees of the Centre for Regional Integration in Africa is chaired by Dr. Mary Chinery-Hesse and its members include Nana Dr. Owusu-Afari, Prof. P.E. Bondzi-Simpson, H.E. Dr. E. Bennett, and Prof. L. Tlou. The CRIA Secretariat includes Prof. L. Tlou, Mrs. Juliana Abu, Mr. T. Kitcher, Dr. F. Danso, and Mr. D. Boateng.
We, along with countless colleague associates and students, have had the enormous privilege to journey through life with a brilliant academician, a prolific writer, engaging intellectual, passionate advocate of African regional and continental integration, loving husband, doting father, and loyal colleague. We celebrate the genius of Prof. SKB Asante and take pride in his awe-inspiring life’s work, which led to the establishment of our Pan African institution for creating awareness, building much needed capacity and generating knowledge in African regional and continental integration. CRIA remains steadfast in its commitment to carry on delivering the mission and vision of the Centre and to preserve the all-important legacy of Prof. SKB Asante.
We whole-heartedly concur with the documentary produced by the United Nations African Institute for Economic Development and Planning (IDEP), which recognises Prof SKB Asante as an iconic “Maker and Shaper of African Development”.
Prof SKB Asante, rest in peace and in the ever loving embrace of the Almighty