Stellenbosch Rector accompanies President Zuma on State Visit to Norway

Stellenbosch University (SU) Rector and Vice-Chancellor Prof H Russel Botman is accompanying President Jacob Zuma on a State Visit to Norway this week.

Russel Botman

Prof H Russel Botman.

He has been invited by the Department of Trade and Industry and Business Unity South Africa to form part of the business delegation making the trip. He will be signing a contract with Nordic aquaculture firm STORVIC on behalf of SU. In terms of this agreement, the Division of Aquaculture in the University’s Faculty of AgriSciences will be testing new technologies at SU’s Welgevallen Experimental Farm.

“We will be releasing tailor-made microorganisms into specially constructed fish-farming ponds. They will both clean the water and serve as food source for the fish,” Mr Henk Stander, a senior technical official in the Faculty’s Department of Genetics, explained.

Similar initiatives are underway in Brazil and Russia, but the Welgevallen project will be the first of its kind in Africa. SU’s Division of Aquaculture is a key role-player in the development of technologies aimed at benefiting rural and coastal communities.

The Norway trip is a reciprocal one, following a 2009 State Visit to South Africa by Norway’s King Harald V. On that occasion, the King and his wife, Queen Sonja of Norway, paid a visit to the Uitsig TB Clinic between Ravensmead and Bishop Lavis as guests of Prof Botman. Uitsig is one of the communities where the Desmond Tutu TB Centre in SU’s Faculty of Health Sciences is active, and Norway had funded a TB research project there.

The Presidency said in a statement the relationship between South Africa and Norway includes development cooperation in such sectors as energy, higher education, research, environment, democracy and the promotion of human rights.

South Africa and Norway also enjoy extensive economic relations. Total trade increased more than fourfold between 2005 and 2010 – from R746 million to R3,2 billion. Last year, South Africa’s exports to Norway reached R2,3 billion, and imports R853 million.

Apart from aquaculture, the business delegation accompanying the President also covers the sectors of oil, gas and resource management; renewable energy; information and communication technologies; as well as tourism and agro-processing.

From the government’s side, President Zuma is accompanied by International Relations and Cooperation Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, Energy Minister Dipuo Peters, Higher Education and Training Minister Blade Nzimande, Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies, Water and Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa and Tourism Minister Marthinus van Schalkwyk.

According to the Presidency, Justice and Constitutional Development Minister Jeff Radebe has been appointed Acting President because Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe is also out of the country on a visit to Guinea Bissau.

Prof Arnold van Zyl, Vice-Rector: Research, has been appointed Acting Rector in Prof Botman’s absence. The Rector is due back on campus on 5 September.