Stellenbosch University researcher awarded chair

Josephine Kaviti Musango.

A prominent researcher at the faculty of economic and management sciences at Stellenbosch University (SU), associate professor Josephine Kaviti Musango, was recognised for her research when she was awarded one of only two research chairs in South Africa by a trilateral research chair initiative.

Ms Musango, of the faculty’s School of Public Leadership, obtained the chair through the SA-AFRICA-UK Trilateral South African Research Chairs Initiative (SARChI).

The SA-AFRICA-UK Trilateral SARChI is supported by South Africa’s Department of Science and Technology through the National Research Foundation (NRF) and the British Council.

It promotes collaboration between research and academic centres of excellence in South Africa, the United Kingdom and an African country. 

The key objectives of the research chair are to:

Build capacity across Africa by enabling mobility of African students and technical support staff to SARChI research chairs in South Africa, UK and an African country;

Provide mentorship and support PhD co-supervision;

Contribute toward increasing the output of PhDs in South Africa; and

Build new links between SA-AFRICA-UK- higher education and research institutions.

Ms Musango was appointed the chair in May, following an application process that started in July 2018. The chair will be officially launched in October.

She says being awarded the chair is recognition for her research efforts – inspired during her trans-disciplinary doctoral at SU – to understand and respond to global and policy challenges relating to energy poverty, energy security and energy policy in an African context.

As the chair, Ms Musango will collaborate with Dr Amollo Ambole of the University of Nairobi in Kenya, and Dr Fabrizio Ceschin of the Brunel University, London, to develop and advance evidence-based research under the cross-cutting theme of “Gender Mainstreaming”, and the trilateral chair name of “Mainstreaming Gender for Energy Security in Poor Urban Environments”.

She says by unpacking the three key-phrases of “Mainstreaming Gender”, “Energy Security” and “Urban Poor Environments”, they intend to utilise gender mainstreaming as a strategy to achieve energy security in poor urban societies.

“The overall objective of the Trilateral SARChI Chair during the first five years, is to explore gendered innovations and commercialised energy opportunities in poor urban societies through two case studies in Nairobi and Cape Town,” says Ms Musango.

Another feather in the university’s cap, is that Ms Musango was awarded the accolade despite the trilateral research chair normally only being awarded to researchers who are full professors and considered to be thought leaders benchmarked internationally.

Dr Makobetsa Khati, executive director of Research Chairs and Centres of Excellence at the NRF, says the associate professor deserves the chair because of her impressive academic credentials and track record.

These include leading a research team called urban modelling and metabolism assessment (uMAMA – to track resource flows that shape African cities, and developing innovative tools to understand and measure energy metabolism in informal settlements.

Dr Therina Theron, senior director of research development at SU, says Ms Musango’s chair will enable the university to achieve its objectives of highlighting “research for impact”, becoming South Africa’s leading research-intensive university and addressing challenges in society.

The NRF and the British Council will fund the chair for a period of five years, with the option of having it renewed for a further five years.