A live band rendering popular afro jazz songs, informative and impactful addresses by keynote speakers who are seasoned in their respective fields and an overall jubilant mood among attendees. This sums up how the proceedings of the first day of the 2022 MBALI International Conference occurred at BON Hotel Waterfront at Richards Bay.
The MBALI acronym stands for Management, Business, Administration and Legal Initiatives. The biennial conference was initiated in 2016 by the Faculty of Commerce, Administration and Law (FCAL) within the University of Zululand (UNIZULU). Its intention is to provide novice researchers and postgraduate students with an opportunity to grow and sharpen their research skills, through interaction with experienced researchers.
This year’s theme (Beyond the pandemic: Rejuvenation, Regeneration and Recovery through innovation) tackles an issue that has gripped the globe for over two years now and which still requires much deliberation. Professor Greyling, Dean of FCAL, explained that part of the reason why the organising committee chose the theme was to challenge attending scholars, novice researchers, postgraduate students and industry personnel to “think different and think new”.
Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Teaching and Learning Prof Vuyokazi Nomlomo, in her opening address, was quite hopeful that this year’s event would yield positive results where research output is concerned. In retrospect, she highlighted that FCAL had enjoyed a significant rise in research output since the first MBALI conference was launched. “During the past few years, the faculty has produced a good amount of research. For example, in 2016, FCAL produced about four or five article as output and the output increased to about 30 articles in 2021 – almost the same in 2022, despite the challenges that have been experienced during Covid-19,” Prof Nomlomo boasted.
She did, however, clarify that this success cannot be solely attributed to the conference, although she does believe that the “inner energy of MBALI percolated around and was successful in creating a culture of research in the faculty”. Continuing, the deputy vice-chancellor commended the faculty for also being a forerunner in the institution, having inspired the establishment of other conferences in the other faculties of the institution.
For Prof Nomlomo, research forms the foundation of university activity as it creates new knowledge that is essential for human and economic progress. Hence, she urged the attendees to produce new good quality and innovative research. Particularly, she encouraged UNIZULU researchers to exploit the available platforms the institution offers its researchers.
Offering a commerce perspective and bringing the conference theme into light, Keketso Motsoene, ABSA Managing Executive: KZN and Mpumalanga, shed light on the impact of the pandemic on the business sector. He mentioned that while many businesses closed down due to the hard lockdown, e-commerce was booming in some parts of the world. In this effect, Motsoene reckoned that looking at the disruption that was brought upon by the pandemic, it was clear that the future of banking was bound to change.
The conference will conclude on Thursday, 4 August 2022.
– Naledi Hlefane