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2016-05-30 09:10:00

The signing of the Memorandum of Understanding by the University of KwaZulu-Natal and Trade & Investment KwaZulu-Natal (TIKZN) is a significant development in that it facilitates the transfer of new knowledge and new technologies to relevant markets that will apply the knowledge to boosting the South African economy. It also allows where necessary for the review of certain existing programmes and to re-align those programmes where necessary to the needs of the economy.

Attendees at the signing, Mr Michael Mabuyakhulu, MEC for Economic Development and Environmental Affairs and UKZN's Acting Vice-Chancellor Research, Professor Salim Abdool Karim welcomed this initiative and agreed that it would go a long way to advancing investment and growing the economy. Speaking on behalf of Trade & Investment KwaZulu-Natal, Chief Executive Officer-Zamo Gwala said that this initiative will be a game changer in attracting foreign direct investment in the province, those with the best investment climate are more likely to succeed in attracting more foreign direct investments. As a country, we would like to see South Africa ranked amongst the top conducive investment destination. However this cannot be achieved over night, forging relations with other like-minded industries such as the Department of Trade & Industry, KZN Economic Development Tourism and Environmental Affairs will go a long way in achieving this. As TIKZN we approached a number of academic institutions asking for areas of collaboration in facilitating investment promotion programme, University of KwaZulu-Natal responded positively to this request to be offered at an executive level said Gwala. Professor Salim Abdool Karim, Acting Vice-Chancellor for Research at UKZN said “This initiative is linked fundamentally to the mission of UKZN. To be the Premier University of African Scholarship” he further emphasised that the notion of being a premier University of African Scholarship involves a sound partnership with the community, investors, government, business fraternity. Universities are not only meant to train people to secure jobs within the economy, but a university is meant to engender a new generation of imaginative people, who are willing to push the boundaries and drive the economy of the province and the nation at large said Professor Salim Abdool Karim.

Endorsing the partnership, MEC for Economic Development Tourism and Environmental Affairs stated: As a democratic government in the country, we have invested billions of rands into the restructuring the education system. It is promising that the universities are now responding to the developmental agenda, by being open to developing relevant programmes, in partnership with government. This confirms that universities must become centres that are moving away from being ivory towers that are designed to maintain the status quo; we want to see a situation where we become equal in order to become unequal. We need to remain comparatively and competitively fit to claim our industrious space in the world, said Mabuyakhulu. In the long-term an opportunity exists for the development and introduction of an academic Executive Programme in trade, investment and economic development in Africa. In the short-term, UKZN's Extended Learning Unit has agreed to develop a customised programme for TIKZN to address the needs of its stakeholders and upskill professionals in the area of Trade and Industry promotion designed to address Africa´s specific development needs. It is anticipated that this programme will commence in January 2017. Currently the University of Edinburg-Napier is the only institution in the world that offers a Masters Degree in Investment Promotion and Economic Development. Investment promotion professionals from all over the world enrol in this programme. Experts from the University will be on hand to assist UKZN to develop capacity in this area.

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