US President Barack Obama gestures during a speech at a food security expo in Dakar, Senegal.

Johannesburg - US President Barack Obama has accepted an honorary doctorate of laws from the University of Johannesburg, vice chancellor Ihron Rensburg announced on Friday.

“It is my delight and pleasure to announce, on behalf of the entire community of the University of Johannesburg, that Dr Barack Obama has become our newest alumnus, and that all matters relating to the award were concluded according to the relevant policies and charters of the university,” he said in a statement.

Obama would not accept the award in person at this stage.

“First, it is normal and standard that the formal procedures relating to the conferral of an honorary degree do not coincide with the actual conferral of the qualification,” said Rensburg.

“Secondly, Dr Barack Obama's visit to South Africa is a matter between the South African state and the US. Accordingly, and on this occasion, Dr Obama is a guest of the South African state and the South African people, and not of the University of Johannesburg.”

The fact that Obama's visit coincided with former president Nelson Mandela's hospital stay was also cited as a reason for the university not physically conferring the doctorate.

“Accordingly, the ceremonial conferral of the honorary doctorate on Dr Barack Obama will take place at a future occasion on a mutually agreed date,” Rensburg said.

Sapa