International trade relations

High-profile Belgian delegation visits SA

High-profile Belgian delegation visits SA
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Her Royal Highness Princess Astrid of Belgium and a high-profile delegation from Belgium on a strategic trade mission to South Africa will attend a seminar at the University of the Western Cape on Friday that will look at strengthening links between SA and Belgium.

Innovation – the life blood of business, science and technology today – depends on mobility both of ideas and people, which is why the topic of internationalisation is a hot one on most universities’ agendas.

The University of the Western Cape (UWC) is no exception, and this Friday (25 October 2013) will host a high-profile Belgian delegation to explore new ways to link business and academia to boost innovation and create opportunities for local students and academics.

HRH Princess Astrid of Belgium as well as top ministers in the Belgian cabinet and business leaders who are on a joint economic mission to Angola, South Africa and India, will be part of the event, where UWC Vice-Chancellor Brian O’Connell will receive an Honorary Distinction award and Cyril Ramaphosa and Nicholas Oppenheimer will be bestowed with the honorary decorations of Commander of the Order of the Crown and Commander of the Order of Leopold respectively by the Belgian delegation.

The seminar will include talks by the princess as well as the UWC vice-chancellor, panel discussions and networking opportunities during which students, academics, government representatives and business leaders will be able to meet the Belgium delegation to explore business and academic opportunities. 

The academic partnership between Belgium and UWC began post-1994 and has brought about many positive outcomes, not only for students and faculty who have travelled overseas to do research and participate in internships or programmes, but also for businesses, research and developmental programmes.

The latest visit to South Africa is as a result of the rise of the country’s status as a leading African economy as well as a member of BRICS (one of the five major emerging national economies of Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) and CIVETS (one of the six favoured emerging markets of Cambodia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Egypt, Turkey, South Africa). Although a trade mission to SA took place in 2006, it will be the first time that Angola will receive a royal visit.

O’Connell says the seminar is a significant event that points to the strong bond between South African universities and top Belgian universities, a partnership that has been very productive for UWC.

“The collaboration between the University of the Western Cape and our Belgian partners began more than 10 years ago when the university’s future was uncertain in many ways. The collaboration has helped the university to achieve extraordinary successes and academic achievements. It has opened so many doors and networks, showing the strength of partnerships and collaboration.”

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