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Young scholar makes his mark in the maritime sector

When Dr Ayanda Meyiwa (32) left his hometown, Pietermaritzburg, in 2007 and headed to Durban for university studies, he decided that he would not leave without a PhD. His wish came true when a Doctor of Philosophy was conferred on him during UKZN’s Spring Graduation Ceremony.

Delighted about his achievement, he said: "This is a very proud moment for me. I am finally able to realise my childhood dream of being among the learned, the philosophers, thought leaders and shapers of ideas that make our world."

As a lecturer in the School of Accounting, Economics and Finance with interests in maritime economics, his thesis was titled: "Articulating South Africa's Port Doctrine for a Democratic Developmental State".

The study addressed multiple port pricing and governance challenges. It focused on ex-ante articulating a port doctrine that best fits South Africa's context of a democratic developmental state. The study contributes a new, contextually relevant port paradigm that enhances strategic social, macroeconomic and maritime policy alignment.

Meyiwa was introduced to maritime studies by Professor Trevor Jones, UKZN Head of the Unit of Maritime Law and Maritime Studies, after which he went on to obtain a Postgraduate Diploma in the field. He was supervised for his Master of Commerce in Maritime Studies and his PhD by Professor Mihalis Chasomeris, a maritime economist and a well-published author in the field.

The university’s proximity to the busiest harbour in the southern hemisphere enabled Meyiwa to apply his research to real life economic challenges. "For me, it offered a lot of exciting opportunities to put theory into practice. Moreover, considering the challenges South African ports face, the field offers plenty of opportunities for me to make scholarly and material contributions," he commented.

Chasomeris congratulated Meyiwa and said: "Dr Meyiwa’s PhD by publication makes a valuable contribution to improving port governance in South Africa. Indeed, the proposals to ultimately separate the National Port Authority from the Transnet Group have been acknowledged by the government and should result in improved investment in port infrastructure, productivity and the competitiveness of South Africa's international trade."

Meyiwa is grateful to the university for establishing the Accelerated Academic Development Programme, which afforded him sufficient time and support to focus on completing his PhD. "The environment created focus and a lot of support was given to me and my contemporaries through writing retreats and other workshops through the University Capacity Development Programme to improve our scholarship," he said.

He looks forward to making a meaningful contribution to academia and to continuing to grow into the ranks of leadership in academia.

Meyiwa is the first among five siblings to obtain a university degree and the first in the family to earn a PhD. He said: "My family is beaming with pride and we have earned greater respect for our family name." The Meyiwa clan was looking forward to filling up a minibus and witnessing this momentous milestone in their history. While this was not possible, celebrations will be held at home under COVID-19 lockdown restrictions.

Hazel Langa

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