Transnet re­search cen­tre ex­pands knowl­edge econ­omy

Public Sector Manager - - In Other News -

Transnet's new re­search cen­tre will con­trib­ute to job cre­ation and the ex­pan­sion of the coun­try's knowl­edge econ­omy.

The state-owned rail, port and pipe­line com­pany re­cently launched the Mat­lafatšo Cen­tre.

This is a hub ded­i­cated to in­creas­ing the com­pet­i­tive­ness, ca­pac­ity and ca­pa­bil­ity of small, medium and mi­cro-sized en­ter­prises (SMMEs) through skills trans­fer and ac­cess to re­search and de­vel­op­ment fa­cil­i­ties.

“We also aim to em­power black­owned and black-man­aged en­ter­prises by pro­vid­ing fi­nan­cial sup­port,” said Transnet Group Chief Ex­ec­u­tive Siyabonga Gama.

The Transnet Mat­lafatšo Cen­tre is be­ing run in part­ner­ship with the Univer­sity of the Wit­wa­ter­srand (Wits) and is lo­cated at the univer­sity.

To date, R19.4 mil­lion has been spent on the cen­tre. It will use in­no­va­tion and re­search to pro­mote high-value en­ter­prise de­vel­op­ment. Transnet will spend about R62 mil­lion on the cen­tre over a five-year pe­riod.

“We know that a lot of peo­ple face dif­fi­cul­ties and chal­lenges when they are try­ing to find jobs but here we are… [cre­at­ing] en­trepreneurs who can pro­vide jobs, peo­ple who can grow and con­trib­ute to the econ­omy, which is im­por­tant,” said Gama.

Transnet hopes that its part­ner­ship with Wits will lead to new ideas, in­cu­ba­tions and in­ven­tions that can be com­mer­cialised.

“The model we are un­veil­ing to­day is one that cre­ates a ful­crum for re­search and in­no­va­tion ini­tia­tives. Once it has ma­tured,Transnet will roll the con­cept out na­tion­ally in a struc­tured and well-co­or­di­nated fashion to reach all the com­muni-

ties of our coun­try,” Gama said.

Wits Deputy Vice-Chan­cel­lor Pro­fes­sor An­drew Crouch said the coun­try needs to find in­no­va­tive solutions to ad­dress the chal­lenges of the

21st cen­tury such as ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence, ro­bot­ics, big data, poverty and in­equal­ity.

“Wits is tack­ling th­ese chal­lenges head on. We are look­ing at try­ing to re­solve th­ese chal­lenges with in­no­va­tive ways go­ing for­ward,” he said.

“We also have a teach­ing and learn­ing plan be­cause teach­ing in the clas­si­cal sense has changed. We have to em­brace tech­nol­ogy and make sure that tech­nol­ogy be­comes an en­abler to sig­nif­i­cantly in­crease our ac­cess to higher ed­u­ca­tion,” said Prof Crouch.

Pub­lic En­ter­prises Min­is­ter Lynne Brown was ex­cited about the po­ten­tial of the Transnet Mat­lafatšo Cen­tre.

“In­creas­ing the com­pet­i­tive­ness and ca­pac­i­ties of black-owned and man­aged SMMEs to take their place in the Transnet sup­ply chain – and those of other large com­pa­nies − is ex­actly what is needed to spread the wealth th­ese com­pa­nies gen­er­ate and to change peo­ple's lives,” Min­is­ter Brown said.

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