The Centre of Collaboration in Africa (CCA) was involved in various activities during the latter part of the year, including supporting the School of Climate Studies in hosting the African Regional Forum (read more). This reflection will feature some of the activities the CCA has been involved in, both regionally (SADC – Southern African Development Community) and beyond:
The SADC Multi-Stakeholder Dialogue (Maseru, Lesotho – 5-7 September 2022)
The SADC Multi-Stakeholder Dialogue is a biennial event organised by the SADC Secretariat that is traditionally presented as events driven by the water sector. It provides a forum for practitioners and other influencing sectors to have a dialogue on the pertinent issues that need to be addressed to deepen regional integration and address poverty in the region. The underlying objective is to ensure that the region unlocks the potential of sustainable water resources development in contributing to regional integration, poverty eradication and socioeconomic development. The theme of this edition of the event was, “Bolstering regional productive capacities for water, energy, food security and ecosystem resilience to achieve inclusive and sustainable industrial transformation". The objective of the dialogue was holistically positioned around the strategies and approaches, regional instruments, and the mobilisation of inclusive capabilities to support water, energy, food and the environment. Participants included senior officials from the water, energy and food sectors across all 16 SADC member states' regional institutions (named below), youth representatives, women groups, civil society organisations, the private sector, international cooperation partners (the Water Strategy Reference Group [WSRG] and other financing partners), government ministries responsible for economic planning, and selected utilities and regional agencies from the water, energy and food sectors. Dr Nico Elema represented the CCA through the Southern African Network of Water Centres of Excellence (AUDA-NEPAD SANWATCE). AUDA-NEPAD SANWATCE is a network of higher education and research institutions conducting high-end scientific research and capacity development in water and related sectors, to achieve a positive impact on societies (read more).
Member states' regional institutions: SADC Secretariat (Industrialisation Strategy [IS]; Policy, Planning and Resources Mobilisation [PPRM]; and the Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources [FANR]). Regional and Pan-African institutions: SADC Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (SACREEE); Centre for Coordination of Agricultural Research and Development for Southern Africa (CCARDESA); Regional Energy Regulators Association of Southern Africa (RERA); River Basin Organisations (RBOs); African Development Bank (AfDB); the Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network (FANRPAN); International Water Management Institute (IWMI); Climate Resilient Infrastructure Development Facility (CRIDF); and the African Union Development Agency – New Partnership for Africa's Development (AUDA-NEPAD).
The Ministerial Meeting on Integrated Early Warning and Early Action System Initiative in Southern Africa (Maputo, Mozambique – 5-9 September 2022)
At the invitation of the African Union Commission (AUC), in collaboration with the SADC Secretariat, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and other key technical partners, the CCA, represented by Mr Carinus de Kock, participated in the Ministerial Meeting on Integrated Early Warning and Early Action System Initiative in Southern Africa. This was the first of a series of early warning conferences at ministerial level across the African continent, starting with the SADC region. The conference aimed to seize evolving political moments following the adoption of the Africa Institutional Framework for Multi-Hazard Early Warning and Early Action, the inauguration of the Africa Multi-Hazard Early Warning and Early Action System (AMHEWAS) Situation Room, and the recent announcement made on 23 March 2022 by the United Nations Secretary-General, His Excellency António Guterres, calling for a new initiative that will provide every citizen on the planet with early warning systems to reduce vulnerabilities and improve preparedness and response to natural hazards in the next five years.
Early warning systems allow people to know that hazardous weather or climate events are on their way, and inform the possible actions of governments, communities and individuals to minimise impacts. These systems are, however, inadequate in the region. Efforts are therefore needed to tap into the WMO and other partners' supportive frameworks to enable effective forecast and prediction systems that will provide information and warnings to disaster management institutions, decision makers, and citizens in general to take appropriate actions to safeguard life, property and development gains. The CCA hosts the “Partners Enhancing Resilience for People Exposed to Risks'' (PeriperiI U) secretariat. Periperi U is a platform for university partnerships to reduce disaster risks in Africa with a special focus on advancing university action on risk and vulnerability reduction in Africa (read more).
The second offering of the Future17 SDG Challenge (Stellenbosch, 27 September 2022)
Stellenbosch University's (SU's) SDG/2063 Impact Hub held a contact briefing session for students selected to participate in the second offering of the Future17 SDG Challenge (Future17) on 27 September. The student-centred offering is led by a consortium of universities from four continents: the University of Exeter, the Chinese University of Hong Kong, the University of São Paulo and Stellenbosch University (read more). This is the first Sustainability Literacy programme offered at SU that focuses on the sustainable development goals (SDGs) and the Agenda 2030 in its entirety. There has been an increase in student and staff interest in Future17, with more than 50 students and 12 mentors participating in this second offering. The course, which started in August, is set to run until December, with the induction phase of the course being finalised this week. This will be followed by group collaborations on a project partner-initiated sustainability challenge between 10 October and 2 November, where students will engage with peers from participating universities. Successfully assessed projects will be certified by QS World Rankings and SU.
18th Session of the Africa Working Group on Disaster Risk Reduction (Algiers, Algeria – 4-6 October 2022)
The African Union Commission (AUC) and the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR) convened the 18th session of the Africa Working Group on Disaster Risk Reduction. The session was held in virtual format under the theme “From commitments to action – Enhancing anticipatory action in Africa through effective implementation of the Africa Multi-Hazard Early Warning and Early Action Programme". The session reviewed progress and concurred on a way forward to accelerating the implementation of recommendations from the 17th session held in March this year as well as priorities and commitments in the Nairobi Declaration and the Africa Common Position to the Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction as related to the theme. The session also provided an opportunity to exchange experiences, lessons and best practices in disaster risk reduction, including anticipatory action and multi-hazard early warning and action systems, through field visits as well as marketplace and lightning talks. The director of Periperi U, Dr Nico Elema, participated in person in these proceedings.
23rd WaterNet/WARFSA/GWP-SA Symposium (Sun City, 19-21 October 2022)
The 23rd WaterNet/Water Research Fund for Southern Africa (WARFSA)/Global Water Partnership (GWP-SA) Symposium was jointly convened by the International Association of Hydrological Sciences (IAHS), AUDA/NEPAD Southern African Network of Water Centres of Excellence (AUDA/NEPAD SANWATCE), and the local organising committee led by the North-West University. These symposia have been held annually in the continent's Eastern and Southern African regions for the past 22 years to promote interaction among policy makers, academics, practitioners from water and related sectors, and cooperating partners. This year's theme was “Integrated Water Resources Management for Sustainable Development in East and Southern Africa". The Secretariat of the AUDA-NEPAD Southern African Network of Water Centres of Excellence (AUDA-NEPAD SANWATCE), hosted by Stellenbosch University, was represented by Dr Nico Elema and Mr Carinus de Kock of the CCA and Mr Renoir Hindley of the SU Water Institute. The trio chaired, presented and reported on the work undertaken within the AUDA-NEPAD SANWATCE at different sessions of the symposium.
Volta River Authority Delegation (Stellenbosch, 17-21 October 2022)
A six-person delegation from the Volta River Authority (VRA) in Ghana visited Stellenbosch University from 17 to 21 October. The VRA is a public institution established in 1961 to generate, transmit and distribute electricity under the Ghanaian Volta River Development Act. Following various amendments (relating to the Ghana government's power sector reforms of 2005), the business dynamics of the VRA changed from operating in a monopolistic environment to operating in a competitive one, as a result of the acceptance of independent power producers on the Ghanaian energy market. In view of the current business trends in the energy sector, the VRA considers innovation and creativity to be strong pillars for driving its business sustainability after 61 years of successful operations. In this regard, the VRA has several subsidiaries including education, health, hospitality, agriculture, lake transportation and electricity distribution companies. The purpose of the visit was to (i) engage and discuss SU innovation programmes and approaches to support industry innovation; (ii) share lessons and discuss models suitable for the VRA's innovation programme, which incorporates management and industry work processes; and (iii) visit successful innovation projects/companies. Ms Norma Derby (Programme Manager: Africa Partnership Development) and Ms Simohn Engelbrecht (AUDA-NEPAD Centre of Excellence for Science, Technology and Innovation [CoE-STI] Project Coordinator: Innovation Upscaling) of the CCA received and hosted the delegation and covered the various activities associated with their visit.
ARUA Data Gathering and Benchmarking Project Workshop (Stellenbosch, 1-4 November)
The African Research Universities Alliance (ARUA) was inaugurated in Dakar in March 2015, bringing together sixteen of Africa's leading universities spread across ten African nations. It is a network of universities from different countries and different historical backgrounds, but with a common vision. The network is generally about expanding and significantly enhancing the quality of research done in Africa by African researchers.
ARUA's vision is to make African researchers and institutions globally competitive while contributing to the generation of knowledge for socioeconomic transformation in Africa. This requires that the ARUA network collect and track data on the developments within its partner universities. Stellenbosch University participated in a workshop in Ghana on data collection from 24 to 28 May 2022, recently (August 2022) hosted ARUA collaborators from Uganda and Mauritius, and had various online meetings (14 July 2022, 25 July to 2 August 2022) to share its practices and systems for data collection.
Dr Elema also represented the Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Research, Innovation and Postgraduate Studies, Professor Sibusiso Moyo, at ARUA's deputy vice-chancellor (DVC) meeting in Accra, Ghana. The meeting saw the congregation of deputy vice-chancellors (and/or their representatives) of ARUA member institutions between 19 and 23 September. Although covering other business, the meeting follows the ARUA Secretary-General, Professor Aryeetey's visit to Stellenbosch University and other member institutions in August (read more). Dr Elema's visit also allowed for a meeting with the University of Ghana (also an ARUA member institution) and the South African High Commission in Accra, where they could build on existing partnerships as well as promote mobility and exchanges.
From these collaborations it became clear that common practices and a shared system for the collection, management and analysis of data on ARUA universities and their research will strengthen collaboration and management of the network. SU proposed several contributions to the ARUA project, but decided on contributions to strengthen the data management capacity and has allocated time for activities geared towards the ARUA project. These efforts have culminated in the hosting of the Data Gathering and Benchmarking Project workshop, which apart from serving as an opportunity for reporting on SU's progress on the tabled proposal and following up on consultations and discussions, offered guidance on the availability of data and the data required for the new system, and initiated the development of the data management system as well as the compilation of a data definitions document.
Contributions to the Sustainable Development Agendas: The SDG/2063 Impact Hub
The Sustainable Development Goals Impact Hub (SDG/2063 Impact Hub), founded in late 2021 and located within the Centre for Collaboration in Africa (CCA) at Stellenbosch University International (SUI), aims to ensure that the sustainability goals of both the UN Agenda 2030 and the AU Agenda 2063 are reached through international collaborations. The SDG/2063 Impact Hub will address the two agendas collectively as there is a high level of alignment between the two, to further advance sustainable development in South Africa and on the continent.
Periperi U as a collective, through its work in risk reduction and early warning systems, will further contribute to sustainable development on the African continent by supporting the UN's SDGs 13 and 15 (Climate Action/Life on Land) and the AU's goals 6 and 7 ('Blue' or ocean economy for accelerated economic growth/Environmentally sustainable climate resilient economies and communities).
Through the work of AUDA/NEPAD Southern African Network of Water Centres of Excellence (AU/NEPAD SANWATCE), SU and our partners will contribute to SDGs 6, 13 and 14 (Clean Water and Sanitation/Climate Action/Life below Water) and the AU goals 5, 6 and 7 (Modern agriculture for increased productivity and production/'Blue' or ocean economy for accelerated economic growth/Environmentally sustainable climate resilient economies and communities).
Overall, SDG 17 (Partnerships for Progress) and Goals 9, 19 and 20 (Key continental financial and monetary institutions established and functional/Africa as a major partner in global affairs and peaceful co-existence/Africa takes full responsibility for financing her development) offer an opportunity for SU to strengthen our collaborations on the continent (and beyond), educate our students, build synergies, and contribute to sustainable development in an impactful way.