The Department of Economics at Stellenbosch University, in Matieland, South Africa, is the latest to join the Virtual Institute. The department has a rich tradition of policy-oriented research aimed at issues pertaining to Africa and South Africa.

"The university values its association with the Virtual Institute highly," writes Vi member coordinator, Johan Fourie. "And, in growing partnership with the Trade Law Centre for Southern Africa, which is also based in Stellenbosch and other South African universities, hopes to inspire a new generation of trade economists to tackle the challenges facing developing economies."

The relationship with Stellenboch began in 2006, when Fourie attended the Vi's workhop on Tools and Methods for Trade and Trade Policy Analysis held in Geneva in partnership with the International Trade Centre and the World Trade Organization.

The next year, Fourie spent three weeks working on his doctoral thesis at UNCTAD as a Vi fellow. In addition to providing opportunities to meet with trade experts and to attend sessions at Geneva-based international organizations, the Vi facilitated his participation in the World Export Development Forum held in Montreux, Switzerland.

"This was an eye-opening experience, as it was attended by mostly private-sector participants and government officials. Social networking with many of the delegates provided me with new insights into the operation of intrenational trade, especially at the practical level," he wrote in his fellowship report.

Soon after the fellowship, Fourie participated in UNCTAD's Regional Course on Key International Economic Issues held in Dakar.

As a result of his positive experience, and upon discussion with Vi's Chief, Vlasta Macku, Fourie pursued his university's affilition with core university member, the University of Pretoria, who in turn recommended Stellenboch's admission into the Vi network.

For more information about our new member, take a look at its university profile. Johan Fourie can be contacted at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..