UCT's Nelson Mandela School set to build a world class African Policy School

04 Jul 2023
The School
04 Jul 2023

The Nelson Mandela School of Public Governance at UCT is building a world class African Policy School dedicated to developing the next generation of Africa’s ethical leaders. Our focus is on supporting social and economic transformation on the continent and strengthening the resilience of democratic institutions. The passion that informs our vision, strategy, and way of working is visually reflected in our video, accessed at https://youtu.be/BZSVZGMzWaY

MDPP 2022 cohort

To respond to the immense challenges and opportunities for the African continent, our ambitious vision is implemented through three academies:

The Leadership Academy

The glaring leadership challenges facing the African continent have to be addressed. As a School, we are building a Leadership Academy that draws on the lessons from leaders such as Nelson Mandela. The Leadership Academy is harnessing an approach to leadership premised on vision, courage, humility, perseverance, integrity, forgiveness, empathy and collaboration.

Executive Leadership Programme

Climate Change and Development Academy

As a continent, Africa has to be equipped to respond to the impacts of climate change. The School’s Climate Change and Development Academy creates platforms to build knowledge and foster debates on policy responses to the impact of climate change and Africa's structural transformation. Through the learning platforms of the Climate Change and Development Academy, policy makers, negotiators, civil society leaders and private sector stakeholders are immersed in discussions on issues such as just urban transitions, food security and climate resilient development.

The AfCFTA Academy

In partnership with the AfCFTA Secretariat, the School developed a masterclass series grounded in a set of foundational and core topics important to understanding the context and potential of the AfCFTA. The masterclass series was launched in March 2023 as an online offering. The masterclasses are tailored for actors across the continent who will be involved in the negotiation and implementation of the AfCFTA, as well as staff members within the newly established AfCFTA Secretariat.

The rich information obtained within each masterclass provides a foundation for the development of online certificated executive education courses. To ensure that the delivery of the online courses can occur at scale, partnerships have been forged with institutions such as the
UN Systems Staff College, SOAS and Sciences Po. Partnerships are also being established with institutions on the African continent, with the expressed intention to strengthen institutional capabilities.

Developing the next generation of Africa's ethical leaders

Our re-imagined Executive Education programme has also seen immense growth, with the conceptualisation of programmes which commenced during COVID, coming to fruition. In the past few months, the Executive Education team has managed the implementation of several offerings on leadership within the public sector. The School, in collaboration with the National Treasury’s Cities Support Programme (CSP) hosted the Executive Leadership Programme (ELP) from 14-18 May 2023. This initiative is the first part of a leadership offeringaimed at strengthening metro capabilities.

Field trip

As part of the School’s thematic focus on Democratic Governance, the Executive Education Programme convened a short course,
Re-imagining the State and Civil Society, which took place from 13 to 17 March 2023 in Cape Town.The course, which comprised of 22 civil society leaders from across the continent, examined the theoretical and practical challenges of building democratic governance and vibrant civil societies to construct national public spheres based on consent and legitimacy.

MDPP 2023 Cohort

The year 2023 was marked with the highest enrolments for the Academic Programme since the School officially started.
In total, we now have 62 registered masters’ students and 10 PhD candidates.

MDPP 2021 Cohort

We are proud of the multidisciplinary academic curriculum that we have crafted to ensure our Academic Programme equips our students to engage with the complexities facing our continent. The value-add of the strengthened Academic Programme which balances theoretical and practical learning is captured in the voices of some of our students: https://youtu.be/2Wm6u5BwZxc

Leading policy-driven research

The School's research programme has been steadily growing, with our work on the AfCFTA being the most advanced research stream within the School. The Nelson Mandela School has aligned its research to the goals of the AfCFTA, thus giving attention to researching ways to stimulate and develop African-wide regional value chains (RVC).

Our Research in this area covers the following:

  • Renewable - building renewable energy infrastructure while leapfrogging in green manufacturing
  • Textiles - building cotton, textiles, apparel and retail regional value chains
  • Pharmaceuticals - manufacturing vaccines, pharmaceuticals and healthcare technologies
  • Agriculture - developing Africa's agriculture, agro-processing and food securing and addressing climate change adaption
To learn more about the School's research contribution, you can can access policy briefs and summary reports from this link: https://issuu.com/buildingbridgesuct

Making policy implementation happen

The School, in partnership with the AfCFTA Trade and Industrial Development Advisory Council, hosted a hybrid textile-to-apparel panel discussion breakaway session at the AfCFTA Business Forum in April 2023.The session was aimed at accelerating the discussion and activating awareness around the ongoing RoO negotiations and the broader role the private sector can play in promoting the development of textile to-apparel regional value chains under the AfCFTA.

Woolworths factory visit during the AfCFTA Business Forum

Creating space for key policy debates

Leading thinkers from around the world provide guest lectures on key policy debates of relevance to Africa. Since the start of 2023, the School has successfully convened a number of lectures - recordings accessible from here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCi8FWNWRyohGyxGPS2zmvBg

Forging Strategic Partnerships

The School works collaboratively with leading global institutions, universities and think-tanks.We have been able to travel to different parts of the world and engage with new and old strategic partners, who are keen to support the vision of building a leading public policy school for the African continent.