Leadership conversation with 2021 Distinguished Alumni Awardee, Ms Emdon

11 November 2021 -11 November 2021 @ 18:00 - 19:00


November 11, 2021
06:00 PM - 07:00 PM
Event Type:


Alumni Relations
046 603 7024

You are invited to the third of our series of Leadership Conversations with our 2021 Distinguished Alumni Award recipients, in honour and acknowledgement of their embodiment of the University’s motto “Where leaders learn”

Event details

When: Thursday, 11 November 2021

Time: 18h00 – 19h00

Topic: Access and Knowledge Networks for Development: Some lessons for Higher              Education in Africa

Registration link: https://zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_OcmMZhnrT3KZSZhSQR_2Yw


Order of proceedings

Facilitator: Ms. Nontobeko Sibisi

Reading of the citation: Ms. Dorothea Hendricks

Congratulatory Message: Dr. Sizwe Mabizela

Conversation between Dr. Ruiters (President of Convocation) and Ms. Emdon on the following key points:

  • Technology interventions and access
  • Knowledge networks
  • Enabling environment for access to knowledge – beyond ICTs in Higher Education


About Heloise Henning Emdon

Heloise Henning Emdon joined Rhodes University in 1976 to study for a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Studies and Philosophy. As fate would have it, her activism was quickly sparked by the nature of the South African political landscape at the time. As a student during the 1976 South African context Emdon became grounded in the student community movement that included reporting on and fearlessly being engaged in the student formations that supported affected communities and advocated against the forced removals in the Eastern Cape. She also got engaged in the SRC organised volunteer programme to tutor township learners and she met them in Fingo Village where they lived although this was not only risky but illegal at the time. Rhodes University did not only provide a foundation of formal knowledge for Emdon but also seeded in her a deep sense of commitment to social justice.

Soon after completing her undergraduate degree in 1980 Emdon joined the CSIR as the Liaison Officer responsible for coordinating co-operative scientific programmes and issues related to freshwater ecosystems. Between 1984-1990 Emdon moved into journalism and made her career in political and economic journalism at the time when apartheid was being challenged from all fronts. She worked for Cross Times, Business Day, South African Press Association, Beeld as well as a reporter for parliament. It was during this period that Emdon experienced the relentless power of the media and seized the opportunity to amplify the voices of the voiceless.

In 1990, equipped with her media experience Emdon sought to work in development and joined the Development Bank of Southern Africa where she found herself enmeshed in the reconstruction process. During this time, she worked closely with the communities supporting Bushbuckridge Radio and working with telecom regulators in Southern Africa in their quest for providing universal services and access. As a telecommunications specialist at the Development Bank Emdon gained a wealth of knowledge and experience in understanding the African context, in particular the institutional barriers to regulations and infrastructure that could hamper the efforts to bridge the digital divide on the continent.

Between January 2002 and October 2012 Emdon joined the International Development Research Centre (IDCR) where she quickly moved up the ranks from the position of Program Specialist & Officer in their South African Office in Johannesburg to being a Program Leader: Innovation for Inclusive Development in Ottawa, Canada. Emdon championed the mechanisms that helped program teams focus on regulatory and infrastructure issues to integrate ICTs into governance, education, health, economic, social, and cultural development. She recognised the urgent need to facilitate the network of researchers across Africa to tackle telecommunication regulations, electronic medical records, university connectivity, as well as connectivity in rural and remote communities. Through her active participation and engagement several networks have evolved into sustained organisations, notably research ICT Africa, UbuntuNet Alliance and Open MRS.  

In her current position as Manager for Internationally Sponsored Research Projects Emdon has significantly improved the reach of Carleton University’s internalisation through securing multi-year sponsored scholarships that enable African PhD scholars to benefit from the university research programs and research placements. Emdon is an outstanding global player who has not forgotten her roots and continues to work tirelessly to ensure that Africa benefits from the various networks that she has established across the globe over the years.

Emdon also holds a Master of Arts degree in Development Studies from the University of Witwatersrand and a Postgraduate Diploma, Policy and Program Evaluation from Carleton University, Canada.  She has not only written extensively but has also published papers on the topic of ICT and Development. She is a Non-Executive Director, Tertiary and Research Networks of Southern Africa and a member of the Canadian Evaluation Society and National Council of University Research Administrators, Washington, DC, USA. Emdon also works with various charities, community development centres, universities both in Canada and Africa to provide student support services, evaluations, conceptualisation of funding proposals as well as facilitating workshops on various social justice matters.

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