Africa’s First Billionaire, Patrice Motsepe Grants $1 Million to Wits University for Innovation

Patrice Motsepe, Africa’s first billionaire, has partnered with the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits) in Johannesburg to promote postdoctoral research in water, energy, and digitalisation.

Motsepe, a Wits alumni and the founder of mining company African Rainbow Minerals (ARM), has donated an R20-million ($1 million) endowment to support innovation and research in the key sectors of water, energy, and digitalization.

“Collaborating with South African higher education institutions is essential to our quest for knowledge, innovation, skills, and sustainable development.” “Public-private partnerships are essential for tackling the environmental and socioeconomic issues that our nation and communities face,” he noted.

“Partnering with South African institutions of higher learning is paramount in our pursuit of knowledge, innovation, skills, and sustainable development,” he said. “Public-private partnerships are crucial in addressing the socio-economic and environmental challenges confronting our communities and country.”

Wits University’s ARM Postgraduate Fellowship Programme intends to establish and sharpen a critical mass of capabilities in South Africa by supporting a new generation of postdoctoral colleagues who will specialize in water resource management, digitalization, and work toward an equitable energy transition.

Beginning in 2024, the initiative will initially support 10 postdoctoral fellows per year. Academic excellence, research potential, and compatibility with program objectives will be prioritized as selection factors. The fellows will benefit from mentorship, networking opportunities, and exposure to best practices in the business.

Wits Vice-Chancellor and Principal Professor Zeblon Vilakazi acknowledged the importance of digital transformation in the mining industry and stressed the importance of developing the necessary skills to move South Africa’s economy ahead.

“We recognise the importance of digital transformation in the mining industry, and the necessity to develop the critical skills needed to advance our economy,” Vilakazi noted.

“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 skills and research needed to secure the long-term sustainability of the mining industry,” he said.

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