UKZN to Develop Aerotropolis Institute
UKZN is to create an Institute – the first of its kind in Africa – to assist in the development of an aerotroplis close to Durban’s King Shaka International Airport.
An aerotropolis is an economic hub developed for the benefit of a region.
The KZN Aerotropolis Institute, to be housed within UKZN’s innovation and commercialisation unit, UKZN InQubate, will bring together various organisations including ACSA, eThekwini Municipality, and the Durban Chamber of Commerce to leverage funding from Government.
The KZN Department of Economic Development and Tourism will inject about R10 million to create the first phase of the Institute.
UKZN would also establish a sustainability model to look at how to further fund the Institute.
The Institute will play a major role in developing the aerotropolis by drawing on the University’s academics and developing a large national and international consortium.
UKZN’s Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Research, Professor Jonathan Blackledge said: ‘An aerotropolis is a bit like a metropolis, but it’s centred around a honeypot of an airport.’
Blackledge likened the development of an aerotropolis to how countries have developed ports and harbours for the past 300 years. ‘Wherever you get a port, you get business. In this way, wherever you get an airport, you get business.’
Dubai, Heathrow and JFK in New York are examples of the world’s leading aerotropoli.
The KZN aerotropolis is expected to be located in the precinct around King Shaka International Airport, anywhere from 50 to 100km around the airport.
UKZN’s Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Innovation, Commercialisation and Entrepreneurship, Professor Deresh Ramjugernath, explained the role UKZN would play in the mammoth project. ‘What we are proposing is an aerotropolis institute which studies everything there is to know about the whole aerotropoli concept.
‘At the moment, there are limited resources to train flight traffic controllers in Africa. We’ll be creating a site at which training can take place for air traffic controllers.’
Ramjugernath said the Institute would be the first of its kind in Africa.
‘It’s about developing economic and commercial opportunities that are related to the infrastructure that you would normally find around an airport.
‘When people think about InQubate or when they think about innovation, they think purely about enterprise opportunities. But this is an opportunity where the University is going to be working in partnership with provincial government, the city and various other stakeholders in impacting the society and the economy of a region.’
Ramjugernath said InQubate was looking for opportunities where the University could play an integral part, not just in education, but in the development of the province and the nation. ‘There’s tremendous potential, not just for our graduates but for creating job opportunities in the region.’
According to Blackledge, the Institute plans on developing partnerships with other Higher Education Institutions, including Mangosuthu University of Technology, the Durban University of Technology and the University of Zululand.
A major partner in developing and submitting the bid has been TSE Consulting, a team made up of South African experts on aerotropoli and an expert from the United States regarded as the father of aerotropoli, Professor John Kasarda, who pioneered the aerotropolis concept in the late 1990s.
Ramjugernath and Blackledge are also exploring the use of helium airships in KZN’s ecotourism sector.