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Change the world

10/08/2021

Nelson Mandela University has partnered with the Eastern Cape Automotive Industry Development Centre (AIDC-EC) towards the provision of relevant industry-aligned degree programmes and other capacity building initiatives aimed at bolstering the manufacturing sector and provincial economy.

The automotive industry remains the largest manufacturing sector in South Africa, accounting for a third of the country’s manufacturing outputs and a significant injection into the national gross domestic product. It is also the backbone of the economy of the Eastern Cape, which is home to a number of manufacturing plants and suppliers, and a major employer in the region.

Last week (29 July 2021), Mandela University Vice-Chancellor, Prof Sibongile Muthwa, and AIDC chief executive officer, Mr Thabo Shenxane, signed a memorandum of understanding, following a tour of some of the University’s automotive engineering facilities, including the Uyilo e-mobility unit and mechatronics centre.

“Our linkages with industry are particularly important as a comprehensive university. In fact, our partnership with the automotive industry is enduring and very long. We would like to practicalise it in terms of the areas of cooperation through this partnership,” said Prof Muthwa.

“We also want to emphasise that as a university, our own presence and impact should be felt in the region in which we are situated, and we take this seriously, hence we have positioned ourselves as an institution in the service of society.

“We believe that this will enable and enhance our capacity to work alongside government and regulatory bodies to appropriately align our educational programmes, research and innovations with the needs of the sectors that we serve.”

The MOU signing follows a series of discussions with the automotive industry body, where the parties explored how they could collaborate on various areas. These include the revival of the research Chair for Automotive Engineering at the University; enhancement of the Uyilo e-mobility and ENTSA programme activities on campus; relevant industry-aligned degree programmes, research and other capacity-building initiatives and partnering on industry 4.0 activities as relates to the manufacturing and automotive industry.

Giving an example of university and industry collaboration and its economic impact in other countries, Mr Shenxane said he was pleased to realise the extent of industry collaboration at Nelson Mandela University.

“I learnt some time ago that 39% of the intellectual property (IP) generated in the country of Spain, is situated in Barcelona, where there are 12 universities that are all linked to industry,” he said.

“So the innovation that comes out of that city lends itself to a number of opportunities linked to those universities. That is essentially what started the conversation.

“Unbeknown to us, Mandela University is so linked to industry, as we have seen [during the campus visit]. My mind was thus blown when we realised how entrenched the institution is to industry.”

Mr Shenxane said the University needed to be more visible in spaces where policy discussions are held for its input, hence talk of the need to revive the Automotive Engineering Chair.

Mandela University Vice-Chancellor, Prof Sibongile Muthwa, and AIDC chief executive officer, Mr Thabo Shenxane, seal the deal.

Contact information
Ms Zandile Mbabela
Media Manager
Tel: 0415042777
Zandile.Mbabela@mandela.ac.za