, by Chris Mullard

HE Dr Zola Skweyiya, accompanied by Yusuf Timol (Minister, Economic), Cathy Moruke (Second Secretary, Political) and Professor Chris Mullard (Honorary Consul for the South West), visited the West Country last summer with a view to cementing and establishing links with several higher education institutions.

The visit began with a welcome dinner at the Camborne School of Mines in Falmouth, moving on to the University of Exeter and the Royal Agricultural College (Cirencester), and ended at the Said Business School (Oxford University).

Several very positive developments arose from the visit, as follows:

  • Camborne School of Mines (CSM): CSM offered to make available to the South African authorities the full findings of its research into particularly WAVE technology. It also expressed its firm commitment to the educational objectives of South Africa, by stating that it is prepared to help raise funds for South African undergraduate and postgraduate students to attend the mining courses for which it is world-renowned. http://emps.exeter.ac.uk/csm/

  • University of Exeter: The High Commission is working with the University to develop a clear plan of implementation of its proposed Geography South Africa Project. This is a unique educational partnership aimed at building a community of leaders who have the knowledge and expertise to help meet the challenge of balancing the demands of economic development with the need for environmental and social sustainability, embedding sustainability into businesses, government agencies, local communities and educational institutions. Personnel from the University and the High Commission will next be meeting to further the project at the offices of the Honorary Consul at the beginning of March.
    The University has advised that a donor has provided scholarship funding for one African student to start on the course in 2012-2013; and in addition, that it would provide scholarships for two students to attend its international summer school in 2012. Furthermore, the University of Exeter Business School has invited the High Commission to continue talks on an annual business seminar. http://www.exeter.ac.uk/

  • Royal Agricultural College (RAC): The RAC, in partnership with the African Fellowship Trust, has for several years been running an African Fellowship Programme (linked specifically to the RAC’s MSc International Rural Development and MSc Sustainable Agriculture and Food Security courses), which has to date accommodated twenty-four students from South Africa. As a result of his visit to the South West, the High Commissioner has since met with the Minister of Agriculture, Forestry & Fisheries and the Minister of Rural Development & Land Reform to discuss relevant opportunities. http://rac.ac.uk/africa

  • Said Business School (SBS): The High Commission is planning a business conference in conjunction with SBS not only to address the business community in Oxford and the surrounding areas but also to act as a vehicle for the harnessing of UK/South African business interests. The new Dean, Professor Peter Tufano (who was formerly Deputy Dean at Harvard Business School), has a particular interest in southern Africa, and at a recent meeting suggested that the School could host a specialist seminar for UK businesses either based in southern Africa or engaged in doing business in South Africa. This idea is currently being developed in the expectation that the seminar would be held in 2012. http://www.sbs.ox.ac.uk