At its annual strategic planning towards the end of January, SU International's Centre for Collaboration in Africa (CCA) chose as its motto for the year “Inspiring African collaboration". This the Centre will achieve, among others, through two new entities: the AUDA-NEPAD Centre of Excellence in Science, Technology and Innovation (AUDA-NEPAD CoE-STI) and the Sustainable Development Impact Hub (SDG/2063 Hub).
Homegrown innovations for homegrown solutions
The AUDA-NEPAD CoE-STI was jointly established by the African Union Development Agency, the South African Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and Stellenbosch University (SU) in June 2021. The aim is to leverage the research and science capabilities of the African continent to upscale and commercialise homegrown innovations, thereby responding to Africa's development priorities. Critically, the centre seeks to support the implementation of the African Union's Agenda 2063 through science-backed evidence-based innovations.
The CCA's Dr Nico Elema serves as lead expert at the CoE-STI, while Simohn Engelbrecht is responsible for coordinating the upscale of identified innovations. To date, 35 homegrown South African innovations have been identified. These all emanate from well-established SU and CSIR programmes. Based on widely tested and proven technologies and techniques, the innovations are ready for upscaling or commercialisation across the continent.
Initial innovation categories earmarked for upscaling include advanced agriculture and food, health, water-related networks, biosciences, e-government, information and cybersecurity, aquaculture and agro-processing. (Look out for further articles and progress updates on the respective innovations.)
Advocating for overall sustainability
The SDG/2063 Hub, in turn, was established at the end of 2021. Managed by Corina du Toit, the hub seeks to use SU's global network of partnerships and consortia to advocate for both the United Nations' sustainable development goals (SDGs) and the African Union's Agenda 2063 goals in the international higher education sector. At the same time, it aims to raise awareness in the broader SU community of both sets of sustainability goals, as well as SU's role in promoting them. To this end, the SDG/2063 Hub will offer sustainability literacy interventions for SU students, being the thought leaders and policymakers of the future. Another key activity will be to collect sustainability data, measure impact and consolidate resources. One current initiative that is enjoying special attention is the drafting of SU's Times Higher Education impact report. The report, which is due in October, will provide an overview of the University's contribution to the overarching sustainability goals.
To help give effect to the hub's objectives, SU students and mentors (academic staff) are participating in Future17, a virtual SDG-focused challenge presented by QS University Rankings, Exeter University, the Chinese University of Hong Kong and the University of São Paulo. The programme started in mid-February and runs until late May, with a second instalment to commence in September.
* For further information on these initiatives, contact the respective programme managers. For the AUDA-NEPAD CoE-STI, e-mail Dr Nico Elema (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Simohn Engelbrecht (email@example.com). For the SDG/2063 Hub, e-mail Corina du Toit (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Image from Future17 Course