Across Africa's higher education sector there is an awareness that the fourth industrial revolution is here. Educators now have a tremendous responsibility to prepare the people and organisations of the continent for a time of rapid change.
It can be argued that in the time of Industry 4.0 the stakes are higher in Africa than anywhere else in the world. Africa's economic development has been accelerated by an ability to harness technology to leapfrog developmental steps in multiple industries. However, in a continent where many places have never seen the benefits of Industry 3.0, there is a danger of many being left behind as the demands of industry no longer match the skills available in the workforce.
Technology has the power to uplift millions of Africa. Similarly, it carries the threat of leaving millions more unemployed and locked out of the global economy.
How is the higher education sector preparing young Africans for an uncertain future? And how can Africa ensure it remains globally relevant in the fourth industrial revolution?
Our oceans are choking on plastic debris. In fact, marine plastic debris is one of the most pressing environmental concerns facing the world today, with devastating effects for both humans and the environment.
Prof Henk Bouwman, from the North-West University’s (NWU’s) Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences, says that this is by no means an easy question to answer because of gaps in the available data.
Carina explains their concern that earlier quantitative assumptions used in various assessments of marine plastic debris may not have been accurate, and therefore resulted in an over-estimation of the amount of plastic that enters the South African marine environment
The social and economic impact of neuromuscular diseases (NMDs) is staggering. These diseases, which include motor neuron disease and muscular dystrophies, can cause premature death or lifelong disability and are believed to affect one in every 400 people – meaning about 20 million children and adults across the globe.
There is hope on the international front, however. Precise genetic diagnoses, gene discoveries and new therapies are having a positive impact on patient care and well-being in developed countries.
This is not yet the case in developing countries with under-studied populations such as South Africa, where more research is desperately needed to develop effective genetic diagnoses and treatments for rare inherited disorders such as NMDs.
This is where the North-West University (NWU) is playing an important role, both as partner in an international collaborative study and as coordinator of the core South African team that will investigate NMD in the region.