In his State of the Nation Address on 13 February, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced plans for a new university on Johannesburg’s East Rand in the City of Ekurhuleni.
Expanding on the announcement in a statement on Thursday (20 February), Higher Education minister Blade Nzimande said that the university will primarily focus on science, innovation and technology.
Nzimande said Ekurhuleni is currently the only major metro without a university, and government wants to address this through the new institution, which will have to develop a dynamic relationship with the ‘industrial and small and medium enterprises (SMEs) heartland of the country.”
While Nzimande said he will more provide details on the establishment of the university during the departmental budget vote 2020 later this year, he did provide an outline of some of the critical areas it will cover.
These will include:
- Data Science;
- Artificial Intelligence;
- Hydrogen-powered technologies including smart transportation and logistics systems.
Nzimande said the university will be developed through work with relevant government and industry partners, the City of Ekurhuleni and the Gauteng Provincial Government, while drawing on South Africa’s extensive international network in the BRICS countries, Japan, Europe and elsewhere for innovative partnerships.
A new university in the region was first discussed in 2017, with executive mayor of Ekhuruleni, Mzwandile Masina, putting the official process to get approval for the institute in play in 2019.
This followed the commission of a feasibility study on a ‘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,” Masina said.