The eThekwini Municipality extended its partnership with the universities in the region by renewing its commitment to collaborate with the Durban University of Technology (DUT), Mangosuthu University of Technology (MUT) and the University KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) leading to the establishment of an approved City and University Research Committee.
The Municipality also welcomed on board the University of South Africa (UNISA), University of Zululand (UNIZULU) and the Human Science Research Council (HSRC) at an event held at the Moses Mabhida Stadium on Friday last week (17 July 2015).
The partnership serves to strengthen and synergise efforts through closer collaboration in order to enhance research, skills, experiential learning and knowledge within the municipal context. In just over four years of formalising the Memorandum of Understanding, the City has strengthened relations with the universities, spawned a number of new sub-agreements and worked jointly on numerous sectoral based projects.
Going forward, the partners agreed to integrated planning and alignment of projects and to translate research into innovative development projects that will benefit communities of Durban.
The Municipality is among the first in South Africa to secure a formal strategic partnership with six institutions of higher learning that drive research, innovation and development. This aligns well with the City’s intention to position Durban as a Learning City. Internationally, there are good practices of cities and academia that have collaborated by aligning their long term vision, resulting in very positive outcomes.
eThekwini Municipality Speaker, Cllr Logie Naidoo, said that the City leadership has supported the establishment of a dedicated fund to further research and innovation. “The partnership presents us with opportunities to harness our resources, networks, expertise and knowledge to improve the quality of life for all those that work, play and live in Durban. I am optimistic that the City’s intention to collaborate in the areas of applied research that is relevant to the City, our willingness to share knowledge and our commitment to complement praxis with policy has placed us ahead of others in the research and innovation community,” he said.
Cllr Naidoo added that research outputs, innovations and new knowledge must result in the improvement of citizens’ lives. “We also look forward to working with the higher education institutions to improve our ability to better deliver services to our communities at large,” he said.
Professor Ahmed Bawa, DUT Vice-Chancellor, said universities are a key feature in the City and called on the City to create space for serious engagement and forward thinking. “If we want to draw on the best output from universities, we have to look at long term strategic partnership that is more forward looking and innovative,” said Prof Bawa, also touching on the need to build capacity and partnerships with significant institutions globally in order to add more value to the collaboration.
UKZN Vice-Chancellor, Professor Albert van Jaarsveld, said having a common vision will give Durban the competitive edge and enable it to be a global player. He committed his institution to making Durban not just “a great City in Africa, but a great African City.”
* This report was supplied by the eThekwini Municipality’s Communications Unit.
Pictured: Strengthening the collaboration are MUT VC Professor Mashupye Kgaphola, Acting UNIZULU VC Xoliswa Mtose, UKZN VC Professor Albert van Jaarsveld, eThekwini Speaker Cllr Logie Naidoo, HSRC’s Dr Shisana, DUT VC Professor Ahmed Bawa and Durban’s Deputy City Manager Sipho Cele