3/2015, In English, Kansainvälisyys, Tutkimus ja innovaatiot

Business with impact through strategic co-operation and research work in Namibia – SAMK and Polytechnic of Namibia heading for urban development in Africa

MOU between SAMK and Polytechnic of Namibia

Satakunta University of Applied Sciences (SAMK) has entered into a co-operation agreement with Polytechnic of Namibia (PON) on issues relating to land and sea since 2012. The co-operation has been especially on R/V Mirabilis and maritime education (Keinänen-Toivola et al. 2014). The three-year project “Improving the maritime education in Namibia 2013–2015 (MARIBIA)” is financed by the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland. MARIBIA project is a partnership between Satakunta University of Applied Sciences (SAMK) the Polytechnic of Namibia and Namibia Maritime and Fisheries Institute (NAMFI) on maritime education in Namibia.

This co-operation was taken to the next level in May 2015 in Rauma, when SAMK and Polytechnic of Namibia signed the memorandum of understanding (MOU) (Fig. 1). Prof. Tjama Tjivikua, Rector of the Polytechnic of Namibia and Associate Professor Samuel John Dean of School of Engineering also visited SAMK’s Faculties both in Rauma and Pori. PON is planning to establish centers of excellence similar to those of SAMK’s centers of excellences, such as on water and solar energy (Fig. 2).

Figure 1. Managing Director Juha Kämäri and President of SAMK and Prof. Tjama Tjivikua, Rector of the Polytechnic of Namibia signed the memorandum of understanding in Rauma, Finland in May 2015. Ambassador of Namibia to Finland, H.E. Bonny Haufiku and Ambassador of Finland to Namibia, H.E. Anne Saloranta were witnessing the occasion. (Photo: Minna Keinänen-Toivola)
Figure 2. Chief Project Manager Martti Latva presenting the world widely unique water system of the Sytytin Technology Center in Rauma, Finland to Prof. Tjama Tjivikua, Rector of the Polytechnic of Namibia , Associate Professor and Dean of School of Engineering Samuel John and Meri-Maija Marva from SAMK. (Photo: Heikki Koivisto)

PON is a Higher Education Institution established by an Act of Parliament (Act No. 33 of 1994) in Namibia and commenced operations in 1995. The Polytechnic was established to offer career oriented programmes to meet the scarce skills challenging the country. The institution is dynamic and fast growing with a strong focus on science, engineering, technology and mathematics. About 55% of the 13000 students are female. The Polytechnic emphasizes on innovation and strives to improve the living conditions of people through the pursuit of applied and problem-solving research. PON is enrolled in six Schools: School of computing and informatics, School of engineering, School of human sciences, School of natural resources and spatial sciences and School of business sciences.

The Polytechnic is also home to several centres of excellence and institutes, from which participants are drawn for the NAMURBAN project. These are the Namibian-German centre for logistic, centre for open and life-long learning, centre for enterprise development, Namibian business innovation institute and the Namibia energy institute. There is also the Harold Pupkewitz Graduate School of Business. In December 2012, the Cabinet of the Republic of Namibia approved the long-standing request for the Polytechnic to transform into the Namibia University of Science and Technology. Hence, the institution is in a change process which will be finalized in 2015.

NAMURBAN – Urban Resource Efficiency in Developing Countries -pilot study of Walvis Bay, Namibia

SAMK and PON have commenced a research project titled NAMURBAN, which stands for Namibia Urban (Fig. 3). NAMURBAN widens the co-operation between SAMK and PON from education to research and development work. The research is aimed at developing a framework for urban resource efficiency utilization in developing countries using Namibia as a pilot country. NAMURBAN is part of Tekes and the Ministry for Foreign Affairs in Finland’s BEAM – Business with Impact -programme for innovations meeting the needs of developing countries and providing Finnish companies with new business opportunities in the growing markets of such countries. The innovations in question can involve technology, service, business or social innovations (Tekes, 2015). A very important part of the NAMURBAN research is the part funding from nine Finnish companies partly, and by implication also actively participating in the research.

Figure 3. NAMURBAN project application meeting at the Polytechnic of Namibia in February 2015. From left going clockwise: Bas Rijnen, Samuel John, Grafton Whyte, Zivayi Chiguvare, Angelica Bergmann and Minna Keinänen-Toivola. (Photo: Minna Keinänen-Toivola)

The specific solutions of NAMURBAN are based on the analysis of the current situation and needs for urban technology and systems in Namibia (Fig. 4 and 5). Namibia’s vision 2030 states that by 2030, Namibia will be a prosperous and industrialized country, developed by its human resources, enjoying peace, harmony and political stability. Namibia’s National Development plan (NDP4) is increased income equality, employment creation, and high and sustained economic growth. The economic priority areas are logistics, tourism, manufacturing and agriculture. This research will be the first to study and develop a sustainable technological concept on urban environments in developing counties using a pilot sites coastal city Walvis Bay in Namibia.

In Namibia, the urban development balance is very fragile as the population is growing at the rate of 2.5 % per year, and in some cities even 4 % per year. Namibia has a peculiar challenge, in terms of urban development due to informal settlements, extreme water scarcity, and dependency on imported energy combined with one of the world’s highly skewed income distribution situation. The social challenges are therefore unequal income distributions, huge unemployment of young people, and low education level, and lack of sufficient skilled people in most sector of the economy. There is an existing and growing population of under-educated young people, who enter the job-market without skills, resulting in the high unemployment rate of over 30%.

Figure 4. Etosha National Park in Northern Namibia is one of the few places in Namibia with several fresh groundwater ponds. (Photo: Minna Keinänen-Toivola)
Figure 5. In Namibia and many other African countries solar energy has huge potential, as a renewable energy source. (Photo: Minna Keinänen-Toivola)

Demand for urban solutions in Africa

In the next ten years, population in Africa is expected to grow by 25% and it is forecasted that 70% of the growing population will be living in slums mushrooming around the megacities. Global megatrends (urbanization, megacities, slumming, clean water, CO2 free energy production, digitalization and food production) are realities in Africa already. At the moment the ongoing infrastructure projects (housing, traffic, energy, water) corresponds to 378 billion USD markets in the sub-Saharan area and 1190 billion USD market in the whole continent. By the year 2020 the number of mobile connections is expected to grow near market saturation point and the number of internet connections will increase 60% from the 2010 level. Furthermore, the discretionary income will grow over 50% compared to present level, creating a 1.4 billion USD mega consumption market.

Big scale urbanization and hugely growing markets require extensive investments to infrastructure (including ICT- and mobile), water, energy, and food production processes also in the future. In several developing countries, lack of pure water and sanitation systems and self-sufficient energy production, are barriers for further development. For example, in Namibia 60% of the consumed energy is imported from outside the country.

Market growth happening in sub-Saharan Africa creates vast possibilities for the Finnish companies for long term business development and expansion (Fig. 6). Finland is a country with extreme conditions and long distances, and Finnish companies have strong knowhow and competence in those areas, which create largest challenges in Africa’s development and growth, namely affordable and energy efficient construction, energy production and water processes as well as ICT-solution development. Resource efficiency in urban development is the key for success for economic and social development while ensuring the minimization of the negative effects to the environment.

Figure 6. Namibia provides a short cut to business with impact in Sub-Saharan markets. (Photo: Minna Keinänen-Toivola)


Dr. Minna Keinänen-Toivola, Project Manager, Satakunta University of Applied Sciences, minna.keinanen-toivola@samk.fi

Dr. Samuel John, Associate Professor, Dean of School of Engineering, Polytechnic of Namibia, sjohn@polytechnic.edu.na

Dr. Anna Matros-Goreses, Director of the Project Services Centre, Polytechnic of Namibia, a.matros-goreses@polytechnic.edu.na

Captain Heikki Koivisto, Project Manager, Satakunta University of Applied Sciences, heikki.koivisto@samk.fi

Dr. Suvi Karirinne, Team leader, Satakunta University of Applied Sciences, suvi.karirinne@samk.fi

Keinänen-Toivola, M., Koivisto, H., Marva, M.-M. & Latva M. 2014. SAMK having co-operation on land and sea in Namibia. AMK-lehti // Journal of Finnish Universities of Applied Sciences, No 3 (2014). http://uasjournal.fi/index.php/uasj/article/view/1606/1530(available online 17.9.2015).

Tekes 2015. http://www.tekes.fi/en/programmes-and-services/tekes-programmes/beam–business-with-impact/ (available online 17.9.2015).

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