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Mutambara clinches top SA academic post

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ROBOTICS and mechatronics professor and pan-African visionary Arthur Mutambara (pictured) has been appointed executive director and full professor of the Institute for Future of Knowledge (IFK) at the University of Johannesburg in South Africa.

Mutambara is a renowned author, academic, engineer and independent technology and strategy consultant.

The IFK is a cross-disciplinary ecosystem – an epistemological interface between the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) and the humanities – devoted to understanding the relationship between what is known and what will happen, for the purpose of improving both.

The IFK comprises six research groups, namely: Data Science Across Disciplines (DSAD), Decentralised Artificial Intelligence and Control Systems (DAICS), Metaphysics and Machines (MnM), the Future of Health (FoH), Green Futures (GF) and the Future of Diplomacy (FoD).

In addition to the overall leadership of the IFK, Prof Mutambara will be establishing and directing the DAICS Research Group and driving the African Agency in Public Health (AAPH) initiative within the FoH.

 The latter is testimony to his pan-African ideological orientation. Further research areas Mutambara will champion at the IFK include Law and Technology, Digital Sovereignty, the Future of Work, AI and Medicine, Climate Change and 4IR, New Ontology (Post-Humanism) and the Unified Theory of Everything.

Approached for comment on his new appointment as executive director and full professor at the University of Johannesburg’s IFK, Mutambara said: “Today’s global problems, challenges and ambitions are complex and interconnected. They cannot be solved in the traditional academic silos but through a multidisciplinary ecosystem approach. More significantly, national solutions are woefully inadequate – only global efforts will suffice. Equally critical, the products of higher education – the graduates – must go through blended learning and be capable of critical and structured thinking. They must master how to think and develop problem-solving capacity anchored in multidisciplinary ecosystem thinking. The students must learn how Mutambara clinches top SA academic post to learn. They must acquire specific and key competencies and capabilities that will make them employable. It cannot be business as usual in the academy. This is our disposition and mandate at the IFK.”

Under Prof Mutambara’s leadership, the IFK will champion UJ’s future-oriented research in South Africa, the continent and globally.

Prof Mutambara’s other areas of consultancy, research and advisory work to private and public entities include 4IR and corresponding technological advancements in the areas of distributed networks, artificial intelligence, automation and instrumentation; thriving under and beyond Covid-19; and mechatronics, robotics and controls.

As an academic, Prof Mutambara has lectured in UJ’s Mechanical Engineering and Electrical & Electronic Engineering departments. He has conducted seminars and public lectures across the continent and globally.

Prof Mutambara is a prolific author who has published five books: two globally in the Electrical Engineering field and a trilogy of highly impactful books titled In Search of the Elusive Zimbabwean Dream: An Autobiography of Thought Leadership. He is in the process of completing a third electrical engineering book. 

 In 2007, Prof Mutambara was accorded the World Economic Forum (WEF) Young Global Leader status and subsequently attended WEF events from 2007 to 2013 in Davos, China, India, and Africa. Alongside fellow principals prime minister Tsvangirai and president Mugabe, Mutambara served as Zimbabwe’s deputy prime minister (DPM) from February 2009 to September 2013.

He was one of three principals who formed and led the county’s Government of National Unity (GNU). As deputy premier, his key functions included assisting the prime minister in policy formulation and supervision of policy implementation.

He worked on three national efforts: the Shared National Vision, Rebranding Zimbabwe, and a National Infrastructure Master Plan.  From 2015 to 2017, Mutambara was president of the African News Agency (ANA). His primary mandate included media technology innovation, digital platform development and harnessing social media tools.

He was driving the use of artificial intelligence and the deployment of intelligent algorithms in media, resulting in new business models. Prof Mutambara is a chartered engineer, a fellow of the Institute of Engineering and Technology (IET), a professional engineer, a fellow of the Zimbabwe Institution of Engineers (ZIE), a fellow of the Zimbabwe Academy of Sciences (ZAS), and a senior member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE).

He was a research scientist at the United States National Aeronautics and Space Administration (Nasa), visiting professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), a professor at FAMU-FSU, and a management consultant with McKinsey & Company.

 Prof Mutambara holds a PhD in Robotics and Mechatronics and an MSc in Computer Engineering, both from the University of Oxford, where he was a Rhodes Scholar. He graduated with a BSc (Honours) in Electrical Engineering from the University of Zimbabwe. — STAFF WRITER.

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