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CSIR campus to be bought for R60m to house new maritime studies centre

THE Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University has invested R60-million in a new campus that it intends turning into the country’s first dedicated maritime studies centre of excellence.

The university has signed an offer to buy the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) campus, which is behind the university’s main Summerstrand campus.

University vice-chancellor Professor Derrick Swartz shared the news at a roundtable discussion with one of the world leaders in the blue economy, the Norwegian government, on ways of harnessing the full potential of the ocean-based economy.

“Marine spatial planning and ocean governance are crucial areas on which this university will be focusing over the next few years. With that in mind . . . we’re in the process of acquiring a new campus. We’re finalising the negotiations right now,” he said.

“I just signed the offer a few weeks ago and that campus, in time, will become dedicated to the ocean and the marine and maritime sector.

“We will be the only one, as far as I know, on the African continent with a dedicated maritime campus.

“We will be developing and refurbishing that with new labs, facilities and relocate some of our state-of-the-art capabilities in science and technology in a mixture of technologies.”

The university’s focus shift towards marine and maritime studies coincides with the government’s massive blue economy drive, Operation Phakisa, which is aimed at optimising economic benefits from the country’s vast coastline.

It is estimated Operation Phakisa could create 26 000 jobs by next year, 65 000 by 2019 and more than a million by completion in 2033.

It is projected to come with a GDP contribution of R7.5-billion next year, R26-billion in 2019 and up to R177-billion in 2033.

Yesterday, the university hosted Norwegian ambassador Trine Skymoen and head of innovation Siw Heggedal Longvastol.

Norway, a small country with an extremely long coastline, depends on its ocean economy.

Swartz said the university would also focus on maritime tourism, which should have been part of Operation Phakisa. It was a “vast area that this university should focus on”, he said.

In its quest to become the continent’s academic leader in maritime studies, the university has set up the R300-million SA International Maritime Institute (SAIMI).

SAIMI, which is doing cadet training and research in maritime skills development and education, could move into the new campus next year, Swartz said.

Contact information
Ms Roslyn Baatjies
Media Liaison Practitioner
Tel: 041-5042777
roslyn.baatjies@nmmu.ac.za