Africa’s first billionaire, Patrice Motsepe, donates $1 million to Wits University to bolster innovation.

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Patrice Motsepe has committed a substantial R20 million (equivalent to $1 million) endowment to facilitate financial support for innovation and research at the University of the Witwatersrand. The funding aims to advance research in crucial areas such as water, energy, and digitalization within South Africa. Commencing in 2024, the initiative will initially fund 10 postdoctoral fellows annually. The University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg has partnered with Africa’s first billionaire, Patrice Motsepe, in this collaborative effort to boost postdoctoral research focused on water, energy, and digitalization.

Motsepe, who graduated from the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits) and is the founder of the mining company African Rainbow Minerals (ARM), has committed a significant R20 million (equivalent to $1 million) endowment to support innovation and research in key areas such as water, energy, and digitalization.

“Engaging with South African higher education institutions is vital in our pursuit of knowledge, innovation, skills, and sustainable development,”

he emphasized. “Establishing public-private partnerships is indispensable for addressing the environmental and socioeconomic challenges that our nation and communities encounter,” he remarked.

The ARM Postgraduate Fellowship Programme at Wits University is designed to cultivate a substantial pool of skills in South Africa by providing support to a new cohort of postdoctoral fellows specializing in water resource management, digitalization, and contributing to a fair energy transition.

Commencing in 2024, the initiative will initially sponsor 10 postdoctoral fellows each year. The selection criteria will prioritize academic excellence, research potential, and alignment with the program’s objectives. Fellows will gain advantages such as mentorship, networking opportunities, and exposure to industry best practices.

Professor Zeblon Vilakazi,

Prof Wits
Prof Zeblon Vilakazi on being appointed a fellow of the Royal Society in the UK

Wits Vice-Chancellor and Principal, underscored the significance of digital transformation in the mining sector and stressed the urgency of nurturing essential skills to propel South Africa’s economy forward.

“We acknowledge the crucial role of digital transformation in the mining industry and the imperative to foster the critical skills necessary for advancing our economy,” remarked Vilakazi.

This investment is firmly located in the Wits University Mining Precinct and dovetails with our broader initiatives in quantum computing, fintech and innovation. We are confident that through more private sector partnerships like the ARM Postgraduate Fellowship Programme, Wits University can help make a real difference in developing the critical skill and research needed to secure the long-term sustainability of the mining industry,” he said.

Source: Business Insider