Transnet research centre expands knowledge economy
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.