UNIVEN team led by the Vice-Chancellor and Principal, Dr Bernard Nthambeleni and the Chinese delegation led by Minister Counselor Long Shen (Pictured at Research Conference Centre)

On Monday, 05 June 2023, a delegation from the Chinese Embassy visited the University of Venda (UNIVEN) to discuss the current and future plans of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) that was signed between UNIVEN and Hubei University of Technology (HBUT) in 2019, as well as potential collaborations that could be undertaken by UNIVEN and other Chinese institutions. This hybrid meeting took place at UNIVEN Research Conference Centre.

Dr Bernard Nthambeleni

In his opening and welcome address, Dr Bernard Nthambeleni said this occasion marks a significant milestone in our diplomatic relations, reinforcing the mutual respect and cooperation that exists between China and South Africa. Dr Nthambeleni mentioned that China has a rich history that spans thousands of years, and its contributions to art, science, philosophy, and culture are truly remarkable. “China’s rapid economic growth and technological advancements have made it a key player on the international stage. The Chinese Embassy serves as a bridge, connecting our two nations and facilitating meaningful exchanges in various fields,” he said.

Dr Nthambeleni continued to tell attendees that the collaboration between UNIVEN and Hubei University of Technology (HBUT) started with the signing of the MoU in 2019. He said this partnership has grown with the support of the Chinese Embassy in South Africa and some of UNIVEN staff and students are involved with some proposals submitted for funding. “The Department of Science and Innovation (DSI) has endorsed UNIVEN as a leader in South Africa to work with the Chinese University in Beijing on Africa-China Joint Laboratory Programme on Beidou Satellite Navigation System and Remote Sensing Applications,” he said.

When concluding his speech, Dr Nthambeleni mentioned that the two parties can foster greater understanding and collaboration between our countries. It is through dialogue, openness, and cooperation that we can address the challenges of our time and work towards shared goals. “The Chinese Embassy plays a vital role in facilitating these exchanges, promoting cultural understanding, and strengthening the bonds between our people.”

Minister Counselor Long Shen

In his purpose of the visit, Minister Counselor Long Shen said that the essence of the visit is to promote the science and technology co-operation between UNIVEN and Chinese partners. Since the launch of the Belt and Road Science and Technology Innovation Action Plan in 2017, China and the Belt and Road countries have conducted cooperation in four aspects: science and technology people-to-people exchanges, joint laboratory construction, science and technology park cooperation, and technology transfer. As the first three-year plan of the China-Africa Cooperation Vision 2035 started in 2021, China will work closely with African countries to jointly implement the nine projects. First is the health project. Second is poverty reduction and beneficiation of agriculture. Sixth is green development projects. Most of them are related to STI, the Ministry of Science and Technology in China has signed several MOUs with the DSI to enable these projects. Under this framework, both sides have joint research labs and have launched joint research project calls each year which are one flagship project and no more than 15 other projects.

The Minister Counsellor concluded by noting that the “China-South Africa Young Scientist Exchange Programme” is an important cooperation thrust under the mechanism of the China-South Africa Intergovernmental Joint Committee on Science and Technology Cooperation. It aims to broaden the channels of exchange between young researchers of the two countries and consolidate the foundation of China-South Africa science and technology innovation cooperation. “We encourage more universities like UNIVEN to apply for the joint research labs.” “There are a lot of opportunities for these young scientists.” Minister Counsellor Shen continued to mention that he has realised that UNIVEN has a lot of potential farmers who could teach the Chinese farmers a few skills about farming and surely those farmers could also learn from the Chinese. “This is a good move for both Countries,” he said.

Remarks from Vice-President of Hubei University of Technology, Prof Song Xiaochun, who joined the meeting virtually said the partnership between UNIVEN and Hubei University of Technology should be cherished and nurtured because it will bear fruitful results for both countries.

Director of Department of International Relations at the Hubei University of Technology, Ms Amy Long, virtually presented the overview of HBUT and UNIVEN cooperation and future plans. She outlined their proposals for future plans that had five areas of focus.

Acting Director International Relations and Partnerships – Dr Segun Obadire

In his overview of UNIVEN collaboration with China and state of play, the Acting Director International Relations and Partnerships, Dr Segun Obadire said internationalisation at UNIVEN has international footprints across the world and there are lot of MoUs that are signed with other international organisations. He said there are a lot of collaborative projects that are successful today and are bearing fruitful results. Dr Obadire continued to outline the proposed UNIVEN niche areas which included African heritage and Indigenous Knowledge Systems; Transformative Education; Law and Transformative Justice; Sustainable Development; One Health and Digital Transformation. He further indicated the university’s research interest with the Chinese.

When presenting the overview of the Faculty of Science Engineering and Agriculture and Flagship projects, the Executive Dean of the Faculty of Science Engineering and Agriculture, Prof Natasha Potgieter indicated that the faculty has several NRF rated scientists and there are still more that will be rated later this year. She also presented the role of Vuwani Science Resource Centre including the way this Science Centre contributes to the surrounding communities. She further presented about the DSI/SARChi Chair; Projects that the Department was working on such as the Biomass Digestors that are being offered within South African communities; Agricultural Projects; Research Niche Areas and other possible areas of partnerships.

The Executive Dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences, Prof Tshilidzi Mulaudzi and her colleagues in the faculty, Prof Lufuno Makhado, and Prof Rachel Lebese presented their flagship projects in the Faculty of Health Sciences. Some of the projects include Glad Africa Epilepsy Research Project and Ubuntu Community Engagement Campaigns.

Prof Tharien van der Walt

Prof Tharien van der Walt from the Faculty of Management, Commerce and Law, representing the Executive Dean of the faculty, Prof Modimowabarwa Kanyane presented the overview of the Faculty of Management Commerce and Law and Flagship projects including community engagement projects and the faculty’s research niche areas/Thematic Thrusts.

The Executive Dean of the Faculty of Humanities, Social Sciences and Education – Prof Bongani Bantwini

The Executive Dean of the Faculty of Humanities, Social Sciences and Education, Prof Bongani Bantwini presented the overview of the Faculty of Humanities, Social Sciences and Education and its Flagship projects.

Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Research and Postgraduate Studies – Prof Nosisi Feza

When deliberating on the way forward, the Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Research and Postgraduate Studies, Prof Nosisi Feza said when people want to establish a relationship, they look at their strengths and weaknesses and explore possible areas of collaboration. She said there is no poverty in this region, what we need is resources to make sure that the food that is available here enhances the economy of this area. “Let us work together in making sure that we provide the skills that are needed.” Prof Feza highlighted that the challenges cannot only be solved scientifically but through a combination of our Indigenous Knowledge Systems and science, we can solve a lot of issues to alleviate poverty and take a step towards sustainable development.

UNIVEN team led by Dr Bernard Nthambeleni (4th from left), and the Chinese embassy delegation led by Minister Counselor Long Shen (5th from left)


Skip to content