Johan van Zyl, president of Toyota Europe. Picture: FINANCIAL MAIL
Johan van Zyl, president of Toyota Europe. Picture: FINANCIAL MAIL

Carmaker Toyota SA and Pretoria University’s Gordon Institute of Business Science (Gibs) have combined forces to create Africa’s first specialist manufacturing Masters in Business Administration (MBA) in an attempt to boost the sector, which plays a key role in economic development.

The degree programme will be introduced in 2019 following today’s launch of the Durban-based Toyota Wessels Institute for Manufacturing Studies.

Former Toyota SA CEO Johan van Zyl, now president of Toyota Europe and a trustee of the Toyota SA Educational Trust, said: “The creation of a deep manufacturing culture has contributed to the development of Asian economies such as Japan, Thailand and Korea. I believe we need to start building a similarly deep culture of manufacturing in SA.”

Institute executive director Justin Barnes said the MBA was not automotive-specific but would address manufacturing in general. Despite manufacturing being considered vital for the growth of developing economies, its contribution to SA’s GDP was in decline.

“We hope to address that by developing a new generation of world-class, business-minded manufacturing specialists,” he said. While the first group of students would probably all be South Africans, he hoped about 25% of future intakes would come from the rest of Africa.

Barnes, a former chair of industrial studies at the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN), is chair of Benchmarking and Manufacturing (B&M) Analysts and lead consultant to the department of trade and industry on motor industry policy.

The institute, named after the Wessels family that founded Toyota SA, has its campus in a Kloof mansion built at the turn of the 20th century by industrialist Sir Guy Hulett. Johannesburg-based Gibs beat several business schools, including UKZN’s, to win the right to offer the MBA. It will also teach a postgraduate diploma (PGDip) in business administration, which students will complete before tackling the MBA. Combined, the two courses will take two years to complete.

Gibs dean Nicola Kleyn said her school was wholly responsible for student selection and teaching. Programmes, taught by Gibs faulty, would include both online tuition and 10-day block-releases at the institute. Annual intakes would be limited initially to about 40 students.

She said much of the MBA’s content would be general business administration. However, elective subjects, research, dissertations and overseas trips would concentrate on manufacturing. “We need to grow manufacturing and train people to manage it,” she said.

In addition to the Gibs programmes, the institute plans to create research chairs, co-operate with international manufacturing centres and run its own non-academic activities, including executive development programmes and certification courses.