The MoU, that dates back to 1996, is the cradle of a Land Management capacity building project that matured into a fully-fledged Department of Land Management at the Polytechnic of Namibia, offering a comprehensive suite of degrees, diplomas and certificates in Land Management related fields comparable to none in the SADC region. More than 60 staff members of the former Ministry of Lands, Resettlement and Rehabilitation graduated in Land Management related disciplines at various levels at that time. In addition, the programme attracted over 60 students from Botswana, Lesotho, Mozambique, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania and Zambia during the same period.
This initiative, funded by the Royal Dutch Government for over a decade, was technically supported by ITC. The cooperation also availed scholarships to academic and MLR staff to study at ITC in the Netherlands for Master’s and PhD degrees. NUST also jointly hosted and delivered several refresher courses for ITC African alumni, capacity development and training for Mozambique and the first regional Global Land Tool Network for decision makers with ITC.
In order to remain relevant, focal areas have been timely reviewed to meet the ever-changing needs of communities in Namibia, in particular, and the SADC region at large. The Faculty of Natural Resources and Spatial Sciences now offers undergraduate and postgraduate programmes with the first PhD in design this year, without losing the philosophy of integrating and fusing geospatial information and communication technologies (i.e. GeoICTs) across all disciplines. The qualifications offered in these fields include Geomatics, Geo-information Technology, Town and Regional Planning, Regional and Rural Development, Agriculture Management, Natural Resources Management, Land Administration, Property Studies, and Architecture at undergraduate level while Masters qualifications include Spatial Science, Earth Observations, Natural Resources Management and Agribusiness.
The Vice-Chancellor, Prof Tjama Tjivikua, expressed his gratitude and said: “Through this funding we were able to deliver one of the most basic needs of humanity in the form of land. One cannot address issues of livelihood such as food, energy and shelter without land. We were able and continue now to support the land reform programme with practical skills and knowledge through education, training and advisory services. We are grateful to the Royal Dutch Government for adding value to Namibia’s development.”
The renewed MoU now focuses on knowledge creation and deployment through research and innovation to take the existing land resources and manage them more efficiently. “Partnering with a globally recognised technical university with over 900 spin-off ventures is crucial for us and Namibian society”, Tjivikua concluded.
The Rector of ITC, Prof Tom Veldkamp, acknowledged NUST’s vision and said that he and his team found great pleasure in working with the most innovative Namibian institution. He welcomed the need to lift the cooperation to enhance creation of new knowledge to support sustainable development in Namibia and the SADC region.