While the debates surrounding the recent State of the Nation Address (SONA) are still ongoing, we are pleased to hear that the President’s proposed plan to develop a Science and Innovation university in the City of Ekurhuleni is going full steam ahead.

To date there has been a limited amount of information about the university, and specifically the logistical elements that are involved but Higher Education, Science and Technology minister, Blade Nzimande, offered more insight this week.

He explained that the university will be focused primarily on technologies and innovations that would future-proof the country, which has been something that the presidency and other ministers have deemed important over the past 12 months.

“We believe that this location – together with fresh new challenges arising from the revolution in science and technology in the third decade of the 21st century – offers an opportunity for a new initiative to provide cutting-edge science and technology innovations across crucial areas such as data science, machine-learning, artificial intelligence, block chain, robotics, hydrogen-powered technologies, including smart transportation and logistics systems,” said Nzimande.

He added that his department will be working with relevant government and industry partners, the City of Ekurhuleni and the Gauteng Provincial Government, while drawing on the country’s international network and BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) nations, as well as Japan, and some European countries.

Nzimande also highlighted the considerations that will be paid to student accommodation across the country, with adequate provision thereof being a serious issue for local universities in recent years.

“Through the Student Housing Infrastructure Programme (SHIP), we aim to develop large-scale student housing projects at universities and Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) colleges,” the minister said.

“Government’s goal is to provide 300 000 new beds at the 26 public universities and 50 public TVET colleges over 10 years,” he adds.

In order to reach said accommodation goal, President Ramaphosa noted in SONA that R64 billion will be set aside for student housing.

As for when the Science and Innovation university will open its doors to students remains to be seen, but if South Africa is indeed aiming to develop digital and technology skills for the future, more projects like this will be needed.

[Image – CC 0 Pixabay]