NMMU hosts talks around untapped blue economy

SEPTEMBER 18, 2015

Ways and means of harnessing the untapped potential of Africa's blue economy will come under scrutiny on Monday when a high-profile Norwegian delegation comes to cement relationships with Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU).

An open round-table discussion and innovation expo will be hosted by the university that plans to offer research, knowledge, innovation, policy guidance and educational training solutions to the national call for support in developing South Africa’s blue economy.

The meeting between key players from one of world's most successful sea-faring nations and NMMU follows an earlier visit by NMMU Vice-Chancellor Prof Derrick Swartz and senior university officials, to Norway to  establish partnerships as well as promote academic and scholarly collaborations, and the developmental objectives of South Africa in respect of the oceans economy.

Norway's ambassador Trine Skymoen and head of innovation Siw Heggedal Longvastol will join Prof Swartz in discussing student/staff exchanges, research and teaching partnerships, programme offerings and innovative solutions as the University evolves into the country's preferred marine and maritime education destination.

A 2013 Department of Environmental Affairs study estimated that the country’s oceans have the potential to contribute an additional R177-billion to the GDP, and an additional 800 000 to one million jobs by 2033.

As a new generation university which has adopted an integrated and transdisciplinary approach to teaching, learning, research, innovation and engagement, the NMMU round-table discussion will include potential maritime and marine partners such as Coega, two key sectoral provincial departments (Economic Development and Transport); the business sector and the Nelson Mandela Bay Maritime Cluster as organised by the metro's Business Chamber.

NMMU is hopeful of fostering cooperation of the public sector, the private sectors and academia for the benefit of technology and innovation.

SAIMI, the South African International Marine Institute, established in the metro last year will also be actively involved in the discussion as part of its vision of coordinating quality post-school education, training and research with partner institutions across South Africa and internationally.

“This discussion also gives us the opportunity to demonstrate how everyone can be involved in the marine and maritime economy – from law and business to science, engineering and technology. Everyone should be able to see their space in contributing to enhancing the competitiveness of South Africa’s ‘blue’ economy,” says NMMU Senior Director of Institutional Planning Prof Heather Nel, who has been part of the ongoing negotiations and planning of the university’s role.

The round-table discussion in the university’s South Campus Council Chambers from 11am includes a number of presentations around the university’s strategic approach to the marine and maritime sector as well as presentations by the Norwegian delegation and a perspective from the Business Chamber.

Viewings of various innovation projects by the university will follow in the adjacent venue at 12.45pm as a means of showcasing the university’s many exciting innovations.

They include exhibits from NMMU’s engineering technology station, eNtsa, its Centre for Renewable Energy, the Advanced Mechatronic Technology Centre (AMTC), the Innovation Office and robots from the Faculty of Science’s Computing Science students.