By Charles Molele
Plans to establish the state-of-the-art University of Ekurhuleni are underway, according to the City’s executive mayor Mzwandile Masina.
In his state of the city address on Wednesday, Masina said they’ve received a green light from department of higher education and training to build a university in the region.
“We started the process of lobbying national government for the establishment of a University. So far, we have reached a common understanding with the Department of Higher Education and Training and have an in-principle agreement that this University can be established. We are still negotiating modalities of what shape and form it will take and over what period will it come to life,” said Masina.
“The significance of building a university in the city will not be limited only to the area of education. A university is a complex institutional setup that broadly impacts urban development. It will concentrate high numbers of people in a central area which will produce new human settlements, commercial enterprises and transportation networks that will produce a dynamic urban centre. This will inform the development of many business ideas that straddle the business, artistic, cultural and entrepreneurial value chains.”
The proposed project would have an estimated cost of between R5bn and R6bn, which was the national average based on the universities currently being built in Mpumalanga and the Northern Cape.
Masina said they had considered the feasibility and budget of the project since Ekurhuleni contributes 23.1% to the economy of Gauteng and 8.1% to the national economy.
“We commissioned a feasibility study on the University of Ekurhuleni to focus in the areas of applied engineering, logistics, science, aviation, tourism and hospitality. That study gave us the understanding that indeed there is a need and immense potential for a University within the city,” he said.
Ekurhuleni is one of the only two metros in the country without a university. Masina said they had engaged with various stakeholders, including the private sector and government, to develop skills and training in the area.
Although a formal name had not been agreed upon yet, an interim name of Ekurhuleni Applied Sciences and Technology University was being used.
The curriculum design would focus on engineering, agriculture, logistics, aviation and aerospace studies, as well as design.
Masina also announced the establishment of the Teraco Data Management Centre, the largest data management facility in Africa.
The data housing facility, which has R2-billion in total investment and R600-million in the 2018/2019 financial year, will have significant benefits for the telecommunications, banking and retail industries.
“The City of Ekurhuleni is at the heart of the Fourth Industrial Revolution that is changing the ways in which technology is used to ensure a better life for all. The Fourth Industrial Revolution is a march towards an age of advanced technology, where cyber-physical systems radically transform every industry in the country with new technologies such as artificial intelligence, additive manufacturing, robotics and the Industrial Internet of Things, among others,” said Masina.
Masina also said that in advancing the skills development project in Ekurhuleni, the city has increased its education allocation to R100-million for community bursary funds.
“This is a 10-fold increase from the previous years when the bursary fund was at R10-million. The net effect of this investment has been an increase in the number of beneficiaries from 297 to 1,850 with an intention to increase it 3-fold in 5 years,” he said.
“This increase in our bursary allocation has enabled us to help many young people to realize their dreams of pursuing academic training in different career fields. One outstanding recipient of this bursary assistance is a young lady by the name of Dr Naledi Mashishi. Dr. Naledi Mashishi is bursary recipient of the City of Ekurhuleni who graduated with a degree in medicine in 2018. She is currently doing her internship at the Far East Hospital and sits on the board of Silence Violence – a non-profit organisation dedicated to developing leadership and educational skills in Mannenburg.”
Through this bursary programme, Ekurhuleni has been working systematically to boost the enrollment of as many young people as possible in the scarce skills fields.
We have funded the enrollment of students into mathematical, computational, engineering, medical and aviation studies among others. Jabulani Mthembu from Vosloorus and Nathaniel Netshidzivhani from Germiston are bursary recipients who enrolled at the Elite Aviation Academy, at the Rand Airport in Germiston. Both have already received their private pilot licenses, which required 100 hours of flying. Nathaniel has already completed his 200 hours and is now officially a commercial pilot. Jabulani Mthembu is still working towards his 200 hours. We wish him all the best in completing his required hours,” said Masina.