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04 June 2019 | Story Valentino Ndaba | Photo Charl Devenish
Prof Cathryn Tonne
Air pollution not only costs lives, it costs money too. Pictured is Prof Cathryn Tonne presenting a guest lecture on air pollution at the Bloemfontein Campus.

Health effects associated with ambient air pollution (AAP) have been well documented. Subsequently, the relationship between pollution and financial outcomes have also become a focus for case studies globally. An Environmental Research journal article revealed that “low and middle-income countries are disproportionately affected by the global burden of adverse health effects caused by AAP”. 

A high price to pay

In 2012, high concentrations of air pollution caused 7.4% of all deaths, costing South Africa up to 6% of its Gross Domestic Product. According to the recent International Growth Centre study conducted by senior University of Cape Town researchers, this is a direct consequence of the country’s heavy dependence of fossil fuels, a source of health-damaging air pollution and greenhouse pollutants.

Stunted human and economic growth

These South African statistics are attested to by Prof Cathryn Tonne who recently presented a guest lecture on air pollution which was hosted by the University of the Free State (UFS) Business School.

“Air pollution can affect economic development through several pathways, and health is an important one. Air pollution is linked to shorter life expectancy, chronic disease, asthma exacerbation and many other health outcomes that result in absenteeism from work and school. These have large direct costs to the health system.” 

Prof Tonne says that air pollution exposure in children is linked to reduced cognitive development, with important impacts on human capital. As a result, children are not reaching their full potential in terms of neurodevelopment, which has an effect on their income prospects and the economy as a whole. 

Resolving a looming disaster

Technology may be employed to radically clean the air. Cities need to lead in the reduction of air pollution by promoting renewable energy, using active transport such as walking or cycling, and investing in infrastructure to make this safe and attractive. 

With researchers playing a major role in strengthening the case for aggressive air pollution control, the government needs to implement policies in order to control sources of air pollution. This global health and economic issue also requires individuals and communities to play their part to improve air quality.

News Archive

Meet our Council: Ndaba Ntsele – Inspiring entrepreneurs
2016-04-19

Description: Ndaba Ntsele Tags: Ndaba Ntsele

Mr Ntsele
Photo: Stephen Collett

 To call Mr Ndaba Ntsele just a businessman seems like a bit of an understatement. The Executive Chairman and co-founder of Pamodzi Group Limited lives and breathes business, entrepreneurship, and wealth creation. He is also a member of the Council of the University of the Free State (UFS) since September 2013.

His greatest passion is entrepreneurship, and sharing his ideas of self-employment with young (and old) South Africans. “I preach self-employment wherever I go. Everyone knows that unemployment is a major problem in our country. However, people often expect the government or big corporations to provide them with jobs. I like to influence people to start thinking about working for themselves, thereby creating opportunities for employing others,” he says.

His entrepreneurial drive extends even to his time on the UFS Council. Now in his second term, Mr Ntsele has been well placed to get a sense of the kind of contribution the university and its students could make to South Africa, and even further afield.  

“In addition to training students for all the other important industries in South Africa, I think the UFS is ideally situated to create agricultural entrepreneurs. The Free State is one of South Africa’s prime agricultural areas, after all. Food security is an issue worldwide, and it is an area in which we could make a real contribution by training food producers, food technologists, and agricultural specialists. In fact, I think the UFS could become the leading agricultural institution in the country.”

Being the best is something that he strives for continually, while high standards are not something he shirks. In fact, he believes that Council members should hold an institution accountable for maintaining the highest standards possible, whether it is in governance, financials, procurement, or any other areas of importance in an institution.

As the executive chairman of a multi-billion African-owned group with assets across the globe, Mr Ntsele does not have a great deal of free time. However, he enjoys sitting down with MBA students and graduates to share his views about entrepreneurship.

“If I can change their mind-set from ‘others must employ me’ to ‘I need to create my own employment’, then I will feel as if I have accomplished something,” he says.

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