Dr. Kana Nkasanga Patrick Mutombo

South Africa
Dissertation Title: A Holistic Risk-Oriented Framework for Port Infrastructure Adaptation to Climate Change

What attracted you to WMU and/or why did you choose WMU? I work for the Port Authority in South Africa. I have always wanted to further my studies with a PhD and was intending to do so through a local university. Fortunately, I came across an advert from the South African Maritime Safety Authority, advertising for sponsorship to do postgraduate studies at WMU. Before such time, I never heard about WMU but I trusted my instinct and applied immediately by submitting a research proposal. I was accepted a few weeks later after going through an intense skype interview with the PhD admission panel. Since then, things have been going so well for me and I am grateful today for having gone through the WMU journey, which was so enriching in many ways.

Why did you select the research topic you worked on? Given that I was responsible for the planning, provision and maintenance of port infrastructure in the port of Port Elizabeth in South Africa, I felt that there was a need for adapting port infrastructure to the changing climate. However, efforts to implement this concept proved fruitless since climate change is still regarded as a very contentious issue, difficult to comprehend in totality. Attempts to benchmark with international best practices indicated that there was still no provision in the industry for a port wide approach or methodology for assessing and incorporating climate risks in ports. This is the knowledge gap that I identified which made the case for my PhD research.

What is the highlight of studying at WMU? Giving lectures on climate change in ports to a very mature, experienced and professional masters student audience has been the highlight of my PhD studies. As most students are generally well experienced in the maritime sector in their respective countries, I have gained a lot of valuable knowledge from the interaction during the various lectures with masters students in the Classes of 2014, 2015 and 2016. This has significantly enriched my research. I will forever remain so grateful to my supervisor, Professor Aykut Ölcer, for providing me with the opportunity to lecture at such a prestigious institution. It was such a privilege!

What are your plans after graduation? I am presently in the process of establishing a Research and Development unit in Transnet National Port Authority in South Africa. I am glad that the organisation's management is increasingly recognizing the need for research within the organisation. It is our intention to seek areas of possible collaboration with many research institutions, including WMU.