What We Do

Academic, Technical and Intellectual Service and Capacity

Mandela University has identified a number of thematic areas where it has expertise, research and engagement skills to offer the sector in combatting the pandemic.

These include:

  1. Engineering and Design
  2. Public Awareness and Understanding
  3. Public Health and Safety
  4. Clinical and Medical Assistance
  5. Data Analytics and Research Information
  6. Mental Health

Since the beginning of the pandemic, the University has joined up with other institutions and with government in order to produce research and modelling to assist with understanding and responding to COVID-19.

Inter-Governmental and External Stakeholder Liaison

Essential to the University’s COVID-19 response has been building a strong relationship with external stakeholders in order to drive collaborative projects for the benefit of society, particularly those worst affected by the pandemic. For this purpose, the University liaises with government at national, provincial and local level; with business and the private sector, such as through the Business Chamber; as well as with non-profit organisations, civil society organisations, forums and networks; and its local communities.


In response to the pandemic, eNtsa has been involved in a number of initiatives, particularly around the production of PPEs (such as face shields) and other equipment required by hospitals. They were particularly active during the beginning of the COVID-19 spread in South Africa, when resources such as face shields and ventilators were in short supply.

The Mandela Bay Development Agency funded a number of these projects. Apart from the production of face shields and intubation/extubation units, and involvement with a national project on reverse-engineering parts for the Nuffield ventilator, the team also works to assist SMEs affected by the National Lockdown, especially by providing subsidised engineering and testing support.

Please see link to-

Business Chamber Infocom article with regard to the 3D printed face shields:


Engineering news link:

Mask Production & Distribution

The mask project was originally initiated by the Department of Visual Arts as their contribution to the Nelson Mandela University’s COVID-19 response activities. The University’s dream was that individuals and groups within the broader Metro community would, with the help of patterns and instructions, a) make cloth masks for themselves and b) make cloth masks that could be distributed at no cost to the most vulnerable and needy communities in and around the University area of Summerstrand.

The strategy was aimed at ensuring that all members of the public were able to mask-up with a non-medical cloth mask consisting of at least 2 layers of fabric. The project soon gained momentum and the team broadened its reach into the greater metro region of Nelson Mandela Bay. Now, under the auspices of the Community Convergence Workstream (CCW), the project is being reconceptualised with the aim to provide individuals with sewing skills to produce masks for schools, but also start their own sustainable sewing businesses.

ICT Solutions

The Centre for Community Technologies (CCT), in partnership with the ICT industry and the Eastern Cape Department of Health, has been working on a number of solutions for assisting with the COVID-19 response. As part of the Memorandum of Agreement with the Office of the Premier, collaboration has been ongoing between the District Office of the Department of Health in Nelson Mandela Bay and Sarah Baartman. In addition, the CCT supports the Provincial Departments of Health, Education and Social Development with a variety of technology solutions not only to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, but to also strengthen service delivery in the Province.

A number of the ICT solutions were developed in a manner that will allow for their continued use in a post-COVID-19 scenario. Notable solutions are the COVTOR self-monitoring tool for contact tracing (www.covtor.co.za), the COVID Trace Case Management solution and the Cloud-based Hospital Management Solution (HMS2). The CCT has assisted with end-to-end support at the Rev Dr Mamisa Chabula-Nxiweni Field Hospital.

Centre for Community Technologies Applications for COVID-19.pdf

Sanitiser Production

Following the outbreak of COVID-19 in South Africa in early March 2020, there was an acute shortage of hand sanitiser throughout the Republic. InnoVenton had a Kilo Lab facility that contains suitable explosion-proof equipment in which alcohol-based hand sanitiser can be produced at a production capacity of 400 litres per day. This was soon scaled up to assist the Eastern Cape Department of Health and the Chris Hani District Municipality. InnoVenton has produced sanitiser for internal use at the University and has also partnered with Sasol to produce sanitiser for donation to identified beneficiaries in the local community.


Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation

Prof Sijekula Mbanga and his team have been engaging the Eastern Cape Provincial Government Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation sector to find common ground on post-COVID-19 sector priorities where the government can explore utilisation of the University’s capabilities. The focus of the government engagement effort has thus far been on COVID-19 interventions in the provision of basic services such as shelter, water and sanitation.

The engagement intervention has been focusing on the short and medium term. This workstream’s approach has been to use a hybrid of short-term interventions in vulnerable communities with a post-COVID-19 innovative strategy in informal settlements to upgrade infrastructure and sustainably provide clean water and sanitation services in the Eastern Cape province.

Nelson Mandela University Presentation -ISUP Partnership with NMBM.pdf

Nelson Mandela University Convergence Fund

As South Africa navigates the national COVID-19 lockdown, hunger and food security in communities have emerged as critical challenges. Despite the interventions by SASSA and other government agencies and NGOs, poor communities are suffering untold hardship. Given the socioeconomic challenges in this region and the immediate need for resources to aid the fight against COVID-19, the University is of the view that the establishment of a Nelson Mandela University Convergence Fund, to which staff and students can make monetary donations, on a completely voluntary level, would serve as direct assistance to the needy in our immediate community.

This fund builds on the University’s existing commitment to create Hubs of Convergence and to partner with civil society and communities to assist in resolving pressing societal issues. It also seeks to extend the University’s COVID-19 interventions beyond supporting government to also supporting communities.

For more info, or to donate, see:

COVID-19 Data Modelling

Prof Muronga and his team from the Faculty of Science have been working on modelling the pandemic, such as attempting to predict the peaks of the various waves. With a group of interns from different South African universities hosted at Mandela, they are also working to understand the dynamics of various social behaviours, especially in relation to movement between metropolitan and rural areas. Other areas of work include collaboration with other African countries to explore the behaviour of the pandemic on the continent.

Community Convergence Workstream (CCW)

The Community Convergence Workstream (CCW) draws on the expertise and networks of the Engagement and Transformation Portfolio (ETP) to respond to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Hubs of Convergence project and the Center for Integrated Post-School Education and Training (CIPSET) are responsible for the over-arching administration and coordination of the CCW. The specific focus of the CCW is marginalised community-based workers (including healthcare workers), people affected by GBV, vulnerable groups experiencing hunger, education stakeholders, farmworkers, casual workers, and unemployed youth, amongst others.

The CCW coordinates a number of projects:

  • Tele-counselling: This project entailed setting up a structure of suitably qualified volunteers who provided telephonic support around mental health issues (debriefing) to Community Healthcare Workers.
  • Community-based food systems: This project aims to provide support for existing food systems in various communities across the Metro. The team continues to work on supporting 25 People’s Action Teams (PATs) (consisting of approximately 150
    people in total) who are establishing or maintaining community gardens, school gardens, clinic/hospital gardens, and backyard gardening projects around NMB.
  • Food and material relief: This project aims to facilitate the distribution of multiple forms of relief to communities, frequently working with the Convergence Fund Deployment Committee (CFDC).
  • Capacity-building in GBV for first responders: This project aims to co-construct a GBV programme that is responsive to the immediate needs of communities.
  • Archiving website and citizen journalism: The project consists of two components: 1) development of an archiving and information website, along with the EC COVID-19 People’s Coalition, which stores important information that will assist or ganisations, social movements and activists in their work on the ground; and 2) promotion of community/citizen journalism sponsored by the University and published on the site and/or online media.

You can explore the Ubuso Bethu community journalism project here: https://www.ubusobethu.co.za/