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Africa 4IR

What can Africa contribute to the Fourth Industrial Revolution?

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What can Africa contribute to the Fourth Industrial Revolution?

Africa 4IR

  • September 21
  • Tags Press release, Leadership, 4IR, Africa

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By Prof Martin Butler

The science fiction writer William Gibson remarked that “the future is already here – it is just not evenly distributed”. This is certainly true for the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR).

The First Industrial Revolution explains this perfectly. Even though certain communities and, to an extent, certain countries across the world did not know about the existence of the steam engine and industrialisation in Britain 250 years ago, it transformed the lives of thousands and then millions as it spread globally. That which was unique to parts of Britain in 1770, was well recognised and part of the new normal in 1860 in the developed world.

Fast forward to the Third Industrial Revolution (TIR) and some of the most innovative uses of mobile technologies take place on the African continent. Mobile money is one area where we lead the world in using technologies intrinsic to the TIR. When the World Bank needed the skills to head up mobile payments, they recruited a South African that cut his teeth in Kenya.

Although steam and railways (First Industrial Revolution), mechanisation (Second Industrial Revolution), and computing and automation (TIR) shaped the African content, we remained primarily consumers of the technologies developed in other places. Africa either adapted or implemented the technology owned by global organisations or continue to purchase the products and artefacts. For example, we do not design vehicles or mobile phones at a mass scale. Still, we will create factories to manufacture under licencing, or purchase the products arriving in our harbours.

Three of the industries bucking the trend are telecommunications, financial services and agriculture. Some companies and products in these industries are entirely home-grown, and large organisations that are significant players in these industries have partially transformed the image of the lagging continent as African innovations and role players are starting to shape the transactional environment.

The 4IR, often confused with the third that is all about computers and automation, is blurring the line between the physical and the digital. The omnipresence of technology, as well as significant advances in artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning, is transforming the work that can be performed by, and how we interact with, technology. This cyber-physical world is different from automation in many respects.

This transformation challenges the essence of humanity, our values and beliefs, and most importantly, how systems react in certain situations. Products of the TIR, like drones and computers, responded to inputs from their human masters. Products of the 4IR, like self-driving cars and autonomous weapons systems, react based on their ability to make sense of their environments by using complex logic that continues to evolve. However, at the core of their reactions is complex patterns devised by humans, or at least the methods in which this complex logic evolves.

…we could, and should, play an essential part in the complex ecosystems that allow this blurring of the physical and the digital.

I do not think African companies will become global role-players in developing automated vehicles or autonomous weapons systems. I do believe that we could, and should, play an essential part in the complex ecosystems that allow this blurring of the physical and the digital. Africa can contribute to the 4IR not by resisting the inevitable distribution of the future brought by the 4IR, but by actively seeking to address some of the biggest remaining problems to ensure universal value for all industries, communities, and citizens of her countries.

Facial recognition systems that dispatch a drone to arrest a criminal on Interpol’s most-wanted list, must not embed past biases in the recognition and decision-making process. Autonomous vehicle and weapons systems must have access to ethical frameworks and moral judgements to make the correct decisions. Capacity development initiatives for humans working shoulder-to-mechanical-shoulder with automated manufacturing lines, or with AI algorithms in financial services, must have the capacity to do so.

The question is often asked about the destruction of employment in the face of automation and the 4IR in particular. Our research indicates that total employment is not reduced; it just shifts as the economy restructures. Rather than asking about the number of workers that will be displaced by technologies, we need to ask how we capacitate our workers to exploit the many new opportunities created by the 4IR. Why can we not be proactive and lead the world in devising methods and models to reskill our workforce for the newly structured economy?

Yes, Africa will not necessarily create the artefacts or entire ecosystems of the 4IR. Still, I think we have a critical role to play in contributing to the reasoning and algorithms embedded in the systems. We also have an important contribution to make in defining and setting examples of building human capacities to exploit and use the new world unlocked by these systems.

…we can make a significant contribution towards long-term value from the 4IR by forming part of the critical conversations and implementations and reskilling of the workforce.

Business, in essence, remains relatively simple: create value for customers through the execution of operations. As new customer value is created, and operations are transformed by investments in 4IR technologies, we need to become part of the conversation about creating equitable value for all customers and providing skilled resources to execute operations that deliver the required value.

Although Africa will not necessarily produce the hardware and software at the centre of the 4IR, we can make a significant contribution towards long-term value from the 4IR by forming part of the critical conversations and implementations and reskilling of the workforce.

*

Prof Martin Butler is Head of Teaching and Learning at the University of Stellenbosch Business School (USB) in Cape Town, South Africa. He is also a Research Associate at the Institute for Futures Research (IFR). He holds an Electronic Engineering degree from the University of Pretoria, and an MBA (Cum Laude) and PhD from USB.

**

Butler was the presenter at a USB Alumni Webinar facilitated by the Ghana Chapter of the USB Alumni Association on Friday, 28 August 2020, where he addressed the above topic.

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gwo 2023

USB to host Gender, Work, and Organization (GWO) Conference in 2023

USB News

USB to host Gender, Work, and Organization (GWO) Conference in 2023

gwo 2023
Business people working in high-end modern office

  • September 14
  • Tags Press release, Women in business, Leadership, diversity, inclusion, gender

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The University of Stellenbosch Business School (USB) has been selected from a competitive round of applications received from around the globe, to host the Gender, Work and Organization (GWO) Conference in 2023.

The GWO provides an international forum for debate and analysis of contemporary matters affecting gender studies specifically related to the workplace.

With the theme Marginalized gender identities, Prof Anita Bosch, USB Research Chair of Women at Work will be the lead convenor together with Faith Ngunjiri from the Concordia College in the USA; Nasima Carrim from the University of Pretoria; and Ameeta Jaga from the University of Cape Town.

Prof Bosch said hosting the conference in 2023 will be a first for Africa and a major achievement given the significant positioning of the GWO in global business scholarship.

“USB is ideally placed to take the lead as host institution with our expertise in workplace gender studies and offers us the opportunity to showcase the high calibre of international scientific and scholarly pursuits on the African continent.

“We are extremely proud that USB has been recognised as a partner to the GWO which further strengthens the business school and Stellenbosch University’s international scientific standing.”

Attracting around 500 people from around the world, the conference convenes for interdisciplinary scholarly exchange. The conference evolved in recent years from the Gender, Work & Organization Journal, launched in 1994 and the first journal to provide an arena dedicated to debate and analysis of gender relations, the organisation of gender and the gendering of organisations. It is one of the top journals for explicitly feminist work in organisation studies. The recently released 2019 Impact Factor emphasised this with an increase to 3.101 and a position as the number one title in the ‘Women’s Studies’ Web of Science subject category.

Although initially bi-annually, the conference will be hosted annually from 2021. For 2021, University of Kent in the UK will be the host, followed by the Universidad Nacional de Colombia, Universidad Cooperativa de Colombia and the Universidad Santo Tomás, Bogotá, in Colombia in 2022.

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Sino-African relations: Opportunities and risks for Africa

USB News

Sino-African relations: Opportunities and risks for Africa

  • August 24
  • Tags Africa Rising, Perspectives on African Frontiers, Sino-African relations, industrialisation

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A panel of experts on African matters discussed opportunities, risks, and the future of Africa’s vis-à-vis relationship with China. The panel agreed that the Sino-African relations are beneficial to both Africa and China, though not equally. But how exactly is Africa benefiting from the Sino-African relations and how can the continent leverage this relationship to exploit her boundless opportunities and resources?

The panel discussion, organised by the USB as part of a group assignment for the module Perspectives on African Frontiers and facilitated by Dr Nthabiseng Moleko, convened online on 5 August 2020. The panel included Dr David Monyae of the Centre for Africa-China Studies at the University of Johannesburg; Shuvai Nyoni, Managing Director of the African Leadership Centre in Kenya; Thapelo Lippe, Managing Director of The RightSource, and Fumani Mthembi, Managing Director of Knowledge Pele.

According to Dr Monyae, Africa is part of China’s strategy, and the continent needs to know what she wants from the relationship with China, given the several programmes China has for Africa. “Africa needs to generate her view and stay away from the fights between China and the West,” he said.

Looking at China’s journey to industrialisation, which is perceived as green unfriendly, can Africa incorporate China’s lessons into her growth development plans? Mthembi indicated that though Africa has abundant reserves of coal, embracing renewable energy technologies would be the best way forward because they are cost-effective and green friendly. “However, this may not be the ideal choice for most African countries, looking at the already existing coal generation capacity and the cost of importing renewable energy technologies,” she said.

She added that the continent needs to look into renewable energy as a form of industrialisation, for instance, manufacturing solar panels and wind turbines in Africa.

On the issue of risk, security and trades, Dr Monyae stated that there is a myriad of lessons Africa can glean from China in dealing with the environmental crisis and climate change. He further indicated that Africa must embrace innovation and new technologies and exploit her abundant fossil fuel reserves in an environmentally friendly manner.

“Africa needs to solve issues such as the Inga dam in the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Renaissance Dam in Ethiopia, for her to be energy sufficient. Africa must also start adding value to its raw materials before exportation; both policies and local entrepreneurship would drive such changes,” he said.

On issues of Africa’s youth bulge, and the socio-economic implication thereof, Nyoni indicated that the opportunities lie around high education as there is an increasing number of African youths studying in China. “Africa needs to find ways of harnessing such opportunities to her benefit,” she said.

Regarding digitisation, Lippe stated that technology is an enabler for economic growth and that there are massive opportunities in the information and communications technology (ICT) sector that the African continent can tap into, especially using China’s Huawei 5G technologies. Dr Monyae added that Africa needs to start developing its own ICT technology instead of supporting either the West or the East.

 

*This article was written by the 2020 full-time MBA students as part of a group assignment for the module Perspectives on African Frontiers.

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What USB is doing to ensure teaching and learning continue during COVID-19

USB News

What USB is doing to ensure teaching and learning continue during COVID-19

  • JUL 15
  • Tags COVID-19, studies, teaching, technology, remote learning, blended learning

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The COVID-19 pandemic has required universities around the world to explore online learning. The University of Stellenbosch Business School (USB) is no exception. Although not new – the USB has been developing its Blended Learning format since 2015 – even more digital platforms have been investigated since then.

Prof Martin Butler, Head of Teaching and Learning at USB, says the business school has introduced new technology platforms and online learning conventions for lecturers to ensure that students are able to complete their degrees in the minimum given time – without compromising on the quality of teaching and learning.

“Online classes have been designed by learning experts for delivery via various multimedia platforms. We are using technology to take the teaching and learning to the student. Currently we are using quite a few digital platforms, including Teams, Zoom and the Learning Hub,” he says.

“There are also ample online resources available to support students’ learning journey,” he adds.

USB’s lecturers have also been trained to deliver a world-class virtual learning experience prior to the pandemic and currently there are online learning conventions happening to ensure that the new Blended Learning format provides an optimal experience for USB students.

“We went on a massive remote teaching development drive to get the lecturers to use the new technology platforms effectively and to facilitate the teaching successfully. We want to ensure engaging and interactive classes for the students via the remote online classes,” Butler says.

He says the Zoom Advanced training session has especially been popular, in which breakouts, polls, sharing screen and desktop, and student interaction via chat were discussed. He says from feedback sessions that were held, 92% of the students found the remote online classes average to excellent.

“Most students have indicated that they are comfortable that they will be able to complete their studies in this manner. There has also been a 90% plus class attendance to date (June 2020).”

Comments from students include:

  • “The class is amazingly interactive for an online platform.”
  • “…manages to combine very interesting exercises so that I even forget we are online, and the online participation has been even better than in class.”

Butler says they have also been recording classes so that students can watch it again if they were unable to join at a specific time. “We realise that our students are people who need to work from home, with children, and they sit in front of their computer the whole day.

“This isn’t the time to sweat the small stuff. Lecturers have been encouraging five-minute breaks after every 45 minutes of class to help with online fatigue. Our students’ needs are different, but we have tried really hard to accommodate everyone and to still provide them with a quality learning experience,” he says.

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USB hosts book launch for ‘Fault Lines’ that explores the lasting effects of race and racism in South African society

USB News

USB hosts book launch for ‘Fault Lines’ that explores the lasting effects of race and racism in South African society

  • JUL 02
  • Tags Fault Lines, Book launch, Race, Science, Society, Black Lives Matter, Research

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A book exploring the lingering consequences of race and racism in South Africa and globally was launched during an online event hosted by the University of Stellenbosch Business School (USB) on Thursday, 25 June 2020.

‘Fault Lines: A primer on race, science and society’ delves into challenging questions such as, What is the link, if any, between race and disease? What are the roots of racial thinking in South African universities? Are new developments in genetics simply a backdoor for the return of eugenics?

Co-editor Prof Jonathan Jansen, distinguished professor of education at Stellenbosch University, said the issue is how to educationally address these concerns when people so often scream at each other when it comes to issues of race.

“When you talk to people about terrible racist actions and they say in response to the crisis, Wat het ons verkeerd gedoen? (What did we do wrong), my initial gut reaction was to say, Get real. But I then realised these were genuinely real responses,” he said.

“People don’t have a lot of patience with people who respond with, I really don’t know what I did wrong. Yet the more I thought about that for the past ten years or so, the more I realised that that is true.

There isn’t a moral consciousness that kicks in that says, ‘This is horrible’.
– Prof Jonathan Jansen

“My colleagues, my friends, my students really did not know what they did wrong. There isn’t a moral conscience that kicks in that says, This is horrible. And unless we understand that, you are not going to change the underlying behaviour,” he said.

Dr Cyrill Walters, lecturer on the MBA programme at USB and who co-edited the book, said that “when we talk about ‘Fault Lines’ it would be remiss of us not to mention Angela Saini’s book, ‘Superior: The Return of Race Science’.

Even when people have all the facts, they don’t necessarily want things to change.
– Dr Cyrill Walters

“She touches on ignorance. She says ignorance is probably part of the problem, but the problem is not only ignorance. Even when people have all the facts, they don’t necessarily want things to change,” she said. “Even if people know it’s wrong there’s absolutely no reason for them to commit.”

Ferial Haffajee, associate editor at the Daily Maverick, was a speaker and made reference to UCT Professor Nicoli Nattrass’s research that made headlines recently (the research suggested that black South African students are less likely to consider studying the biological sciences than other students).

“I didn’t know how to approach it because I don’t think its primarily an issue of academic freedom; it’s much more than that. She sent junior researchers out at lunch and they asked 112 students if they had pets, wanted to study conservation, and believed that Rhodes must fall.

“Stupid questions like those were going to beget the stupid answers that she got into a piece of research that to me is quite deformative, and I think Prof Nattrass knows that,” she added.

There are reasons why we should raise our voices against such research while standing up for the rights of academic freedom.
– Ferrial Haffajee

“We sit with three pages of work that finds black students are materialistic and not really interested in the natural science. There are reasons why we should raise our voices against such research while standing up for the rights of academic freedom,” Haffajee said.

She added that it was easy to debunk the Nattrass research with facts. “All I did was call up SANParks to find out that 13 of our 20 beautiful national parks are headed by black South Africans and all of the senior conservationists at SANParks are black South Africans. I think the kind of crude science-based research is really passé and should be on its way out across our campuses,” she said.

Journalist and political commentator Max du Preez, who was also a speaker, said the timing of the book could not have been better “even though the authors could not have known that its publication would coincide with the extraordinary worldwide movement #BlackLivesMatter, unleashed by the murder of George Floyd”.

“I am a bit of a cynic when it comes to human beings’ ability to change in a short amount of time but the scale and intensity of the present movement suggests that history would one day point out that this was a moment when attitudes and sensitivity towards race shifted meaningfully,” he said.

Things can go wrong for a very long time, but we only sit up and notice change when something dramatic happens that gets lots of media coverage.
– Max du Preez

He added: “This is how we roll as human beings. Things can go wrong for a very long time, but we only sit up and notice change when something dramatic happens that gets lots of media coverage.”

Prof Piet Naudé, USB Director, said in his introduction that the book appeared on the cusp of both national and international hard debates about race and other forms of isms in our society. “The reason why it is so important for us at the USB to part of this, is because we are part of South Africa.

“Our students, academics and international students are subject to the same kind of socialisation processes in South Africa. Therefore, there is no reason why we are less prone to racist attitudes, dismissive gender attitudes and issues of sexual orientation,” he said.

Dr Armand Bam, Head of Social Impact at USB, was the facilitator.


Watch the video here >>

Fault lines book launch

 

The book is available at:

Google Books: https://bit.ly/2X7tBN8

Amazon: https://amzn.to/3bJUNFV

ITSI: https://bit.ly/2wOV5wc

Takealot: https://bit.ly/3fII9c2

African Sun Media: orders@africansunmedia.co.za / 021 201 0071

In the media

New book Fault Lines explores the lingering effects of racism in academia; Daily Maverick

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Africa's prospects

Experts on Africa’s prospects under ‘Africa Rising’ concept

USB News

Experts on Africa’s prospects under ‘Africa Rising’ concept

Africa's prospects

  • MAY 28
  • Tags Africa, economy, African Frontiers, Africa Rising, 4IR, Entrepreneurship

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The takeaway from the panel discussion was that economic growth in Africa was incumbent on leadership.

How can Africa consolidate its resources to reap the full benefits of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR)? This was the prominent theme during a recent panel discussion that was led by Dr Nthabiseng Moleko as part of the MBA module, Perspective on African Frontiers, where business leaders and academia met to deliberate on Africa’s contemporary and prospective opportunities.

It drew panellists such as Dr Louis van Pletsen (Founder and Director – InAfrica Holdings), Dr David Monyae (Co-Director – UJCI), Wilmot Magopeni (Executive Head & Business Development – Africa Insurance at FNB) and Andrew McLachlan (Managing Director Development – Hilton Group).

They also discussed strategies that the continent could pursue in order to strengthen its economic acumen including the value of leadership towards growth. China as a catalyst in African development was also discussed.

Dr Louis van Pletsen mentioned that Africa has a competitive advantage in its resource and capabilities. These include the youngest population (50% is younger than 25 years) and various mineral resources. Proper usage of these resources would enable Africa to make its economic mark in the world. However, Africa currently does not refine its raw materials and is also experiencing a brain drain of the younger innovative generation who have the capacity to increase the continent’s refining ability.

He also stated that Africa is more entrepreneurial than any other entrepreneurial society, arguing that there are millions of people involved in the informal sector. This signals a unique ability for entrepreneurship to thrive in Africa.

Dr David Monyae had strong views on trade barriers and argued that these barriers should be lifted completely. Andrew McLachlan’s view was that Africa needs connectors such as hard and soft infrastructure.

The overall view is that Africa must appeal to a broader set of commodities. Economic leaders need to open up to the global environment and African industry is underserved when it operates in isolation. There is a necessity for African economies to coordinate trade as a region so as to reap maximum benefits and for trade to be mutually beneficial. Coordination is critical towards the sharing of industry knowledge, technology, human resources and capital.

McLachlan was of the view that Africa needed to pull its resources strategically in order to usher in 4IR. Magopeni agreed with this sentiment and argued that Africa ought to consolidate capital, reliable trade partnerships as well as risk and rewards principles in order to facilitate unprecedented growth opportunities. McLachlan also highlighted that Africa has a potential to leapfrog technologies due to the lack or cost of infrastructure, meaning Africa is almost forced to leapfrog many barriers.

The panellists had a positive view that beyond COVID-19, Africa ought to take advantage on the usage of technology with Dr Moleko stating that “COVID-19 was an opportunity for us to rebuild, reconfigure and restructure Africa”.

The takeaway from the panel discussion was that economic growth in Africa was incumbent on leadership. Leadership in the 4IR need not only abide by democratic institutions of integrity and ethics but also with entrepreneurial vigour and strategisation. However, contemporary leadership on the continent is not promising on this front which means a new wave of leadership may be required to fill in this void.

USB’s MBA therefore become all the more relevant in this regards as the programme is earmarked to turn managers into entrepreneurs and 21st century leaders. These prospective leaders should be able to learn from the current mistakes and occupy the gaps that exist within the continent’s path towards harnessing the glory of 4IR.

*This article was written by MBA students as part of a group assignment for the module Perspectives on African Frontiers.

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Africa covid-19 economy

Is COVID-19 Africa’s economic curse or cure?

USB News

Is COVID-19 Africa’s economic curse or cure?

Africa covid-19 economy
Source: Pexels)

  • MAY 28
  • Tags COVID-19, pandemic, coronavirus, Africa, economy, African Frontiers

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African business experts converse about COVID-19 and its impact on Africa’s economy.

Will COVID-19 propel Africa to new economic heights? Or will it cause more people to die from starvation and leave Africa’s economy in ruins? These were some of the questions that were addressed by four African business experts who participated in an MBA panel discussion for a module called Perspectives on African Frontiers.

Dr Nthabiseng Moleko, who hosted the event for USB, quantified that due to COVID-19, 30 million people have lost their jobs in Africa, and a third of the continent’s countries are now at risk of debt distress. Africa is also estimated to lose half of its GDP growth, which is expected to plummet from 3.2% to 1.8%.

“The impact of Corona will be felt for decades to come,” said Dr Louis van Pletsen, the Founder and Director of InAfrica Holdings. He added that 580 million informal workers in Africa had seen their average income decrease by 80% in the last month. Van Pletsen emphasised that the impact would be five times that of the 2008 financial crisis.

“We will have more people die of starvation than of COVID-19,” said Andrew McLachlan, the Managing Director for the Hilton Hotel Group in Sub-Saharan Africa. McLachlan stated that jobs should be created in this time rather than taken away.

“We need to understand the catastrophic nature of complete lockdown and look at other ways to live with this virus in our midst,” said Moleko, who asserted that a balance should be found between restrictions and possible labour activities.

Even though the negative impact of COVID-19 is evident, this crisis might also be the trigger that Africa needs for economic development. “COVID-19 represents an opportunity for the continent to re-enter global markets,”, she said.

“After the Great Depression and even after World War II, many countries had to restart from scratch. Now we all have an opportunity to rebuild, reconfigure and restructure.”

Van Pletsen asked: “Africa, do we have to stand back for anyone else in the world?” when he compared Africa’s resources to those of India and China. Africa is home to 1.2 billion people, roughly the equivalent of India and China. Africa is also ten times the size of India and three times the size of China geographically. Half of Africa’s population is younger than 18 years old. “If this was material to work with, you would not find a better place to do so,” he stated.

Dr David Monyae, the co-director at the University of Johannesburg Confucius Institute (UJCI), pointed out that only 12% of Africa’s trade takes place within the African continent. This is another opportunity for Africa to look inwards for development, given that exports and imports are limited.

In closing, Wilmot Magopeni, the Executive Head of Business Development for FNB, shared a quote from Shakespeare: “There is nothing good or bad, but thinking makes it so”. Wilmot added that he sees vast opportunities in the continent.

It is clear from the panel discussion that Africa finds itself at a crossroads. And while it has the resources and the opportunities to make an economic come-back, the only people who will bring this to fruition will be Africans themselves.

*This article was written by MBA students as part of a group assignment for the module Perspectives on African Frontiers.

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USB staff share why they are proudly African to celebrate Africa Day 2020

USB News

USB staff share why they are ‘proudly African’ to celebrate Africa Day 2020

  • MAY 27
  • Tags Africa Day, heritage, African, African Union, community

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In these interviews staff members from Belpark Campus share where they are from, what makes them proud to be African, and leaders who they look up to.

Adwoa Opoku-Nyarko
Customer Experience Brand Manager: USB-ED
Lecturing on the Strategic Analysis module of USB’s MBA programme
South African with Ghanaian heritage

Q: What does ‘being African’ mean to you?
A: I feel privileged to identify as an African, as I believe that our continent holds so much potential. We may be the youngest continent, but our rich cultural heritage and respect for our fellow human beings is truly inspiring. I believe that each and every continent brings something special and unique to the global context, and Africa definitely promotes a sense of community and solidarity: The African spirit is one of deep interconnectedness.

Q: If we use COVID-19 as an opportunity for reform and we imagine positive futures for SA, what comes to mind?
A:
COVID-19 has had a severe impact on the South African economy and its people; we must acknowledge that the pandemic has not been without serious casualties. However, the resilience of both corporate and civil society has definitely come to the fore. Big corporates, individuals, and everything in between, have shown what is possible at the nexus of innovation and a desire to serve others. This considerate, empathetic and solution-driven mentality has the power to really elevate South Africa in the time of re-building that lies ahead.

 

Zelda Cottle
Office Manager: USB International Office
South African (from Cape Town)

Q: What makes South Africa unique?
A:
Our history represents a complex society and while we successfully entered into a democratic economic transformation, the country is still grappling with a legacy of the past. However, South Africa has a lot to celebrate and it is a country filled with many opportunities and a diverse group of people.

Q: What does ‘being African’ mean to you?
A:
“It is said that when you are born in Africa, Africa is also born in and so the love affair with your homeland begins”.
To act with humanity towards each other.
“Umuntu Ngumuntu Ngabantu” or “I am, because you are” is how we describe the meaning of Ubuntu.

Q: If we use COVID-19 as an opportunity for reform and we imagine positive futures for South Africa, what comes to mind?
A: For the South African government to prioritise a sustainable strategy to address the horrific unemployment rate (in addition to the people who lost their jobs during this time). But the unemployment rate is linked to the bad state of our education system so this needs immediate attention.

MacDonald Chapwanya
Hybrid Learning Designer: USB
Zimbabwean
macdonald usb
Q: What makes Zimbabwe unique?
A:
What makes Zimbabwe unique is the resilience of the people. The country has gone through the best and worst seasons and yet through it all they have maintained their principles and values.

Q: What does ‘being African’ mean to you?
A: Being African to me means I derive and draw my identity from the African soil and I proudly embrace, embody, and espouse the African values, principles, and ethos.

Q: What African leader do you admire and why?
A:
Nelson Mandela. He unreservedly fought for peace and reconciliation at a time where most would seek revenge.

Q: Comments on the continent’s response to COVID-19?
A: Even though we were one of the last continents to be significantly affected, the proactive approach by our leaders was remarkable in slowing the spread and flattening the curve. Considering how poor our infrastructure is and how under-developed we are as a continent, we were expected to take the hardest knock. BIG UP to our leaders, our health frontline heroes, and every son of the African soil for being proactive and pro-health.

Dr Njeri Mwagiru
Senior futurist: IFR
Kenyan

Q: What makes Kenya unique?
A:
Kenya is well known for its welcoming culture, we often say ‘Karibu Kenya’ – which means ‘welcome to Kenya’ in Kiswahili, one of our national languages, and also one of the official languages of the African Union.

Q: What does ‘being African’ mean to you?
A: Being African means having a meaningful connection with, and rooting within, the culture, heritage, history, values, peoples, riches and potential of our beautiful continent. I resonate deeply with Africa both as a diverse geographic region – it is my home; but also as an idea and dynamic concept that is all encompassing of all of humanity – it is the birthplace of all of us, as far as we know.

Q: What African leader do you admire and why?
A:
I admire women’s community leadership in African contexts. A characteristic of this leadership is that it binds communities together, it is resilient and innovative in its response to community challenges, and it is inclusive and mindful of all community members’ needs. There are valuable lessons and insights to be gained from women’s community leadership styles across diverse African societies.

Q: If we use COVID-19 as an opportunity for reform and we imagine positive futures for Kenya what comes to mind?
A:
The current President of Kenya, Uhuru Kenyatta has called for African countries to be perceived and engaged as equal partners and contributors to the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, but also in general geopolitical and economic global configurations, and I agree with this commentary. In as much as we must recognise our shortcomings, the ongoing health crisis, and parallel economic and social crises as well as climate change, are an opportunity to imagine better futures. A focus on alternative narratives that celebrate our capabilities, strengths and advantages, may help to pivot the continent towards relevant reforms that not only address failings, but which are also innovative in driving positive change.

Q: What bought you to Cape Town?
A:
Higher education. Having received a scholarship to study my BA in Europe, I wanted to continue my higher education in Africa and to further my learning here. I was attracted by the high ranking and quality of universities in South Africa, as among the best in the continent. I undertook my doctoral programme in Cape Town. I continue to work in higher education and research in my role as Senior Futurist at the IFR, the only institute of its kind in Africa! I’m passionate about growing the futures studies network and strategic foresight community Africa-wide.

Q: What do you miss the most about Kenya?
A: My family and extended community. The equatorial warm weather. Kenyan tea!

Q: Tell us about a Kenyan tradition that you miss the most?
A:
Several traditions in South Africa are similar to traditions in Kenya, sometimes in ways that surprise me, as I was not aware of the many elements our different traditions share. I celebrate the way African cultures are similar in multiple ways regardless of region or country or language.

Q: During lockdown, how have you been staying connected with your friends and family who still live in Kenya?
A:
I’ve been staying connected online! This was the case pre-COVID-19 too, except with less travel currently, online connections are particularly important to maintain.

Sheena Maneveld
Logistical Coordinator: Incoming Programmes: USB International Office
South African (from Cape Town)

Q: What does ‘being African’ mean to you?
A:
Being African, I am very proud to be a part of a diverse, vibrant and innovative nation.

Q: What African leader do you admire and why?
A:
Nelson Mandela, he persevered and never stopped believing in his dream to unite South Africa.

Q: If we use COVID-19 as an opportunity for reform and we imagine positive futures for South Africa, what comes to mind?
A:
Technology during this time has become the most important tool of communication, education and work. For this reason, our country needs to invest more in upskilling people and making free internet available to LSM places. Also need to make IT devises more affordable and available at all schools.

Q: During lockdown, how have you been staying connected with your friends and family
A:
WhatsApp, FaceTime, House Party

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prof mark smith usb director

USB appoints Prof Mark Smith from Grenoble, France as our new Director

USB News

USB appoints Prof Mark Smith from Grenoble, France as our new Director

prof mark smith usb director

  • APR 29

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Strong leadership skills, academic rigour, and belief in the value of research – this is what USB’s new Director, Prof Mark Smith, will be bringing to the table when he takes up this position in October this year. He is currently Dean of Faculty at the Grenoble Ecole de Management in Grenoble, France, where he oversees more than 160 full-time academics.

 

Says Prof Ingrid Woolard, Dean of the Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences at Stellenbosch University, “Prof Smith’s wealth of knowledge and experience sit well with USB’s academic focus areas and vision for the school. USB, its faculty, students and alumni operate in a globally connected world. Fresh perspectives from another world region will help to ensure that we, and our graduates, remain relevant.”

A strong belief in the value of research

Prof Smith’s research areas include youth employment policy, the integration of ethics across the business world, gender and the labour market, the role of business in social innovation, and the transition from education to employment. Over the past few years, he has published in over 70 academic books and journals.

He has considerable experience in leading large-scale funded research projects for the European Commission and global foundations. This research covered topics such as pay transparency, youth labour, women on executive boards, and the improvement of living and working conditions. This will serve USB well as we seek closer collaboration with the business sector and increased income via commissioned research.

“For me, the personal and professional challenge of coming to South Africa and contributing to Stellenbosch University’s vision to be the leading research-intensive university on the continent is very exciting.”

Prof Smith says he is “thrilled to be joining this triple-accredited business school, recognised in Africa and worldwide for its commitment to promoting a societal impact via business research and education. For me, the personal and professional challenge of coming to South Africa and contributing to Stellenbosch University’s vision to be the leading research-intensive university on the continent is very exciting.”

Helping USB to remain relevant

Prof Smith is well connected in the business school ecosystem – among others as an active member of the Responsible Research in Business and Management initiative led by the EFMD and AACSB. He is an expert advisor to various global organisations and foundations. He also comes from a triple-accredited business school.

Says Prof Piet Naudé, whose five-year term as Director of USB comes to an end this year, “I believe Prof Smith’s view of the role of business in society resonates well with USB’s vision to become a source of value for a better world. His strong belief in research will help to ensure that our business knowledge and academic programmes remain current. We look forward to welcoming him to our campus and under his leadership, see USB flourish.”

Prof Smith is passionate about the outdoors, running and cycling. He says he is looking forward to “sample our country’s rich cultural life”. He has two children.

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#WTFuture: Post-COVID-19 possible futures in Africa

USB News

#WTFuture: Post-COVID-19 possible futures in Africa

  • APR 22
  • Tags COVID-19, coronavirus, pandemic, futures, Africa, business, technology, disasters, entrepreneurship, opportunities, foresight, strategic thinking

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Even if COVID-19 is soon eradicated, will it ever be business as usual again on the African continent? Earlier this month (April) we hosted our first online USB Leader’s Angle where speakers Dr Njeri Mwagiru, Senior Futurist at the Institute for Futures Research (IFR), and Dr Lize Barclay, senior lecturer in Futures Studies and Systems Thinking at USB, navigated the uncertainty of post-COVID-19 futures in Africa.

>> Click here for the full recording

COVID-19 and Disasters: Africa’s Preparedness and Resilience

COVID-19 is a public health crisis facing the whole world with multiple challenges. How is Africa positioned in terms of preparedness to respond, and resilience to disasters such as COVID-19?

Dr Mwagiru says it is necessary to apply strategic foresight to respond to disasters like COVID-19 in the best ways possible thinking about alternative futures. “I want to frame it around concepts of disaster risk management.

“COVID-19 is a global disaster – a public health pandemic – and it is not the only disaster we are currently facing. We are facing multiple disasters, like climate change as well,” she says.

She says COVID-19 offers an opportunity to think about Africa’s preparedness and resilience in a broader context as well. “Prior to the disaster we are all quite familiar with the statistics around the continent. We have low human development index performances, we have a low per capita income, our infrastructure development is not up to scratch and we have a high disease burden. We already have multiple challenges so I think COVID-19 also offers an opportunity to think about our preparedness and resilience in terms of that,” she says.

“It is an opportunity to respond to band aid solutions to this particular crisis as one possible situation amongst many but it is also perhaps an opportunity for meaningful and deeply rooted change and transformation so that we really begin to build our priorities,” Dr Mwagiru says.

Preparing for Disasters Using Technology: Gaming Simulation

What role can technology play in understanding and preparing for the future, in terms of disease and other potential disasters? Dr Barclay says gaming simulation plays a significant role and is important in terms of disaster and disaster readiness.

“Shakespeare wrote, All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players. Now what gaming simulation does is, it sets a stage to rehearse possible futures,” she says.

“This is because systems have players, rules, golds and teams that can collaborate or compete. Gaming simulation provides the freedom to run your infinite scenarios so it plugs into those things we don’t always think about or want to think about. The ‘What if?’” she says.

COVID-19 and Insights for African Futures

What lessons are we learning amidst this pandemic that can provide insights to Africa’s futures?

Dr Mwagiru says: “We do have the tools, access and methods like foresight and futures thinking that can assist us to anticipate possible alternative futures and allow us to play a number of possibilities using for instance, scenario planning.

“Another lesson we are learning is the need for agility in our planning and this is very important to keep in mind going forward for organisations and communities. We’re beginning to see the agency of different axes. I think the COVID-19 pandemic has really shown the cooperation and collaboration possible at leadership level,” she says.

Opportunities for Tech Start-ups in Africa

What opportunities have been created for tech start-ups in Africa in dealing with the virus itself and the social and economic dimensions associated thereto?

“The technology start-ups, and not just medical technology, has been absolutely invigorated in many parts of Africa,” says Dr Barclay. “We’ve seen a strong growth in Rwanda, South Africa, Kenya, Nigeria and Morocco, the countries that were most impacted by COVID-19, but their tech eco system mobilised almost immediately.”

She also adds that a lot of mobile money platforms were taking off, even in very remote areas. “It’s specifically designed to work on a lower level or cheaper type of mobile phone with slower internet speed. We’ve also seen a growth in app development,” Dr Barclay says.

Focus on South Africa

In this video Prof André Roux, head of the Futures Studies programmes at USB, is in conversation with Doris Viljoen, senior Futurist at IFR, about what the possible short and medium term futures for South Africa could be.

Post-COVID-19 possible futures in Africa

>> Watch it now

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