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NSTF eNews: 10 outstanding women scientists, part 2 of unpacking the NDP, and more

Posted by Lynette Pieterse on Wednesday, 2 August 2017 14:02


Message from NSTF Executive Director

Women’s Month 2017 – featuring 10 women in science

August is Women’s Month, so the National Science and Technology Forum (NSTF) calls attention to 10 outstanding women scientists who were crowned at the NSTF-South32 Awards or ‘Science Oscars’. These awards showcase the research and development capacity of our nation. The excellence of the winners in science, engineering and technology (SET) and innovation brings hope for the advancement of our country and the social upliftment of all people in South Africa. Read more.


Science and Sustainable Tourism: 3-4 August 2017, Kempton Park, Gauteng

The NSTF is hosting a national Discussion Forum on Science and Sustainable Tourism (#ScienceTourism). SET and innovation are part of the solution to environmental sustainability – which is fundamentally linked to tourism.
Sustainable tourism crosses over into many science-related fields, from the green economy and environmental protection to astro tourism.
Attend the Discussion Forum to raise SET issues that impact on tourism policy. Click here to register. This is a FREE event for all employees of NSTF member organisations and individual members. It is aligned with #IY2017.

Upcoming Discussion Forums

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), in collaboration with the Science Councils sector. This is scheduled for 4-5 September 2017. Look out for an invite in early August 2017. Topics will look at: The importance of R&D for attaining the SDGs; ways publicly-funded institutions contribute to reaching the SDGs, and the relation between institutional research strategies and the SDGs.
Language Issues in School Education taking place on 3-4 October 2017. If there are specific organisations and individuals who wish to present, please apply to Ms Wilna Eksteen at enquiries@nstf.co.za. The event takes place during the school holidays – all educators are welcome to attend (for free).

Bursary Directory

The latest SET bursary is from Anglo Ashanti Gold. Recently-added bursaries include those from: Visit the NSTF Bursary Directory to find information on available bursaries, the different SET careers, and inspiring stories of people in SET. The Bursary Directory is sponsored by the Fuchs Foundation.

July Share ‘n Dare activities

Activities: Winners from the 2015/2016 NSTF-South32 Awards have been sharing science, engineering and technology with youth around the country. In July 2017: Prof Bhekie Mamba was on Radio 2000 on 4 July 2017, Ikwekwezi FM on 12 July 2017 and SAFM on 7 July 2017. To see upcoming activities, click here.
Collaborate with the NSTF: Organisations that would like to collaborate on outreach with the Share 'n Dare programme – and have an NSTF Award winner speak to their staff/audience/community – please contact Ms Fulufhelo Gelebe on enquiries@nstf.co.za. 

The NSTF Share 'n Dare programme is sponsored by the Fuchs Foundation.

Getting to know our award winners: Prof Melville Saayman

Prof Melville Saayman is research director of Tourism Research in Economic Environs and Society (Trees) at North West University. A key area is determining how tourism makes a contribution to people’s lives. He won the 2016/2017 Special Award for Sustainable Tourism for Development. Read more. Join the Science and Sustainable Tourism Discussion Forum to hear his talk on nature-based tourism and a framework for socio-economic research.

Mzansi Bright Sparks

Learn more about Bronson Rudner who is studying BSc (Mathematics, Physics and Applied Maths) at the University of Cape Town.

He is one of the group of first-year students who were recognised in the 2016/2017 NSTF Brilliants Programme for top marks in mathematics and physical science in the National Senior Certificate Examinations.

New NSTF members

The NSTF would like to welcome its new members:

Featured SET policy: Part 2 – The National Development Plan (NDP) and the developmental state

In a series of articles, the NSTF is unpacking the NDP. Part 2 looks at factors for creating a successful developmental state and the developmental framework. Read more.
  • “The COET Council decided to support the South African Institute of Civil Engineers (SAICE) in their forthcoming court case against the Engineering Council of South Africa (ECSA). Some 15 organisation have given donations to SAICE for this matter” – Chamber of Engineering Technology newsletter (July 2017) from the Chamber of Engineering Technology

  • “The CESA Aon Engineering Excellence Awards will be held on the 16th August 2017 at Vodacom World, in Midrand... [The awards] showcase the extent to which local built-environment professionals provide the best in engineering expertise.” – Press release from the Consulting Engineers South Africa

  • Information on maths materials for school teachers is highlighted here – the new DQME websiteLatest news from the Southern African Association for Research in Mathematics, Science and Technology Education (SAARMSTE). If you use any of these materials in your classroom, let NSTF know what you think on Facebook: National Science and Technology Forum



Industry development

Civil society



Space science

Environment, climate change and energy




Winners: 2016/2017 NSTF-South32 Awards

Posted by Lynette Pieterse on Wednesday, 5 July 2017 14:51



Winners of the 2016/2017 NSTF-South32 Awards


The NSTF-South32 Awards, was held at a prestigious Gala Dinner in Gauteng on Thursday, 29 June 2017. It is the 19th celebration of this flagship project of the National Science and Technology Forum (NSTF).

Outstanding contributions to science, engineering and technology (SET) and innovation were awarded and celebrated in the following broad areas under 13 distinct categories:

  • Scientific research
  • Management and related activities
  • Capacity building in engineering and research
  • Environmental sustainability
  • Water research and innovation (new award)
  • Data management and stewardship (new award)
  • Research leading to innovation
  • Science communication
  • Technology transfer, as well as education and training
  • Sustainable tourism for development (special theme award in recognition of the 2017 International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development (#IY2017) declared by the United Nations)

SA needs to develop new products, technologies and services: As previously stated by the Minister of Science and Technology, Mrs Naledi Pandor, South Africa’s science mission is to create wealth thus creating jobs and eradicating poverty. Its success depends on our ability as a nation to develop new products, technologies and services.

About the awards, the NSTF and the outstanding contributions from scientists, engineers and other SET professionals: The NSTF is the most representative multi-stakeholder non-profit forum in South Africa promoting SET, including mathematics and innovation, through collaborative effort. The NSTF-South32 Awards showcase the research and development capacity of our nation. The excellence of the winners to SET and innovation bring hope for the advancement of our country and the social upliftment of all people in South Africa.

What makes these awards special: The national NSTF-South32 Awards are the largest SET and innovation awards in South Africa. They are known as the ‘Science Oscars’ and were the first science awards in the country. The focus is on spreading information about SET to the public, which includes the year-long engagement programme with students and learners called the ‘Share ‘n Dare’ Programme. The NSTF Brilliants Programme recognises the top matric achievers in mathematics and physical science and exposes them to the SET network for future careers and motivation. These youth programmes are sponsored by the Carl & Emily Fuchs Foundation.

Award winners: The awards were presented by the Honourable Minister of Science and Technology, Mrs Naledi Pandor, who is also the event’s patron. She celebrated along with almost 600 guests and over 50 different organisations from the broader community. It is an honour to be nominated, it is an outstanding achievement to reach the finals and an exceptional milestone and celebration of excellence to win one of these awards. Details of the award finalists, including the winners’ are available online at www.nstf.org.za/whos-who/.

The NSTF and its sponsors take pride in congratulating the 2016/2017 NSTF-South32 Award winners!

Category Winner`s name and details
Over a lifetime by an individual Prof Nicolas Beukes – Director: Department of Science and Technology (DST) / National Research Foundation (NRF) Centre of Excellence for Integrated Mineral and Energy Resource Analysis, Department of Geology, University of Johannesburg
TW Kambule-NSTF Awards for research and its outputs by an individual over a period of up to 15 years after award of a PhD or equivalent (two awards) Prof Nancy Refilwe Phaswana-Mafuya – Principal Investigator: South African Study on global AGEing and adult health; and Research Director: Human Sciences Research Council; and Honorary Professor, Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University
Prof Aletta Schutte – Unit Director: Hypertension and Cardiovascular Disease, South African Medical Research Council; and Chair: DST / NRF South African Research Chairs Initiative (SARChI) in Early Detection and Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease in Africa; and Professor in Physiology, Hypertension in Africa Research Team, North-West University (NWU)
TW Kambule-NSTF Awards for Emerging researchers by an individual (Post-docs in a period of up to 6 years after award of a PhD or equivalent in research) – two awards (Prize sponsor: proSET) Prof John Ataguba – Associate Professor: Health Economics Unit, School of Public Health and Family Medicine, University of Cape Town (UCT)
Dr Robyn Pickering – Lecturer: Department of Geological Sciences, UCT
Management and related SET activities by an individual over the last 5-10 years Prof João Rodrigues – Professor: Theoretical Physics; and Head: School of Physics; and Deputy Director: National Institute of Theoretical Physics; and Director: Mandelstam Institute of Theoretical Physics, University of the Witwatersrand (Wits)
Engineering capacity development by individuals over the last 5-10 years regardless of nationality or citizenship, who have demonstrated outstanding leadership in increasing the participation of young researchers (sponsored by Eskom) Prof Diane Hildebrandt – Professor: Chemical Engineering; and Director: Material and Process Synthesis Research Unit, University of South Africa (Unisa); and Director: JMDD Energy (Pty) Ltd
Prof Ochieng Aoyi – Professor and Head: Chemical Engineering; and Director: Centre for Renewable Energy and Water, Vaal University of Technology
Research Capacity Development other than Engineering by individuals over the last 5-10 years Prof Colleen Downs – Professor and SARChI Chair: Ecosystem Health and Biodiversity in KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape, University of KwaZulu-Natal
NSTF-GreenMatter Award towards achieving biodiversity conservation, environmental sustainability and a greener economy to either an individual or an organisation (sponsored by GreenMatter) Prof George Ekama – Professor: Water Quality Engineering, UCT
NSTF-Water Research Commision Award towards achieving sustainable water management, knowledge generation and solutions to either an individual or an organisation (sponsored by Water Research Commission – WRC) Prof Bhekie Mamba – Executive Dean and Director: Nanotechnology and Water Sustainability Unit, College of Science, Engineering and Technology, Unisa
Data for Research Award by advancing the availability, management and use of data for research by an individual or an organisation DataFirst – Director: Martin Wittenberg, Professor: School of Economics, UCT
Research leading to innovation – corporate organisation by a team or individual Prof Eugene Cloete for his teabag water filter invention, Rotoscope and other projects, Vice-Rector: Stellenbosch University
Research leading to innovation – Small, medium or micro enterprise by a team or individual CenGen (Pty) Ltd – Director and Owner: Dr Renée Prins
Communication for outreach and creating awareness by a team or an individual DST/NRF Centre of Excellence in Strong Materials (CoE-SM) team, University of the Witwatersrand – Prof Lesley Cornish, Professor: Physical Metallurgy, and Director: DST/NRF CoE-SM, and Director: African Materials Science and Engineering Network; Prof Alex Quandt, Professor: Physics; Prof Deena Naidoo, Professor: Physics; and Mr Casey Sparkes, Operations Manager
Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) by a team or an individual working through an NGO registered in South Africa over the last 5-10 years through activities which can include technology transfer and education and training Mobile Agri Skills Development and Training NPC – Executive Director: Ms Lynette Bezuidenhout
Special Annual Theme Award which contributes to or supports Sustainable Tourism for Development by an individual or an organisation, in recognition of #IY2017 Prof Melville Saayman – Director: Tourism Research in Economic Environs and Society Unit, NWU

The winners were awarded with state-of-the-art trophies, manufactured through additive manufacturing (industrial 3D laser printing) with advanced materials (titanium).

Ms Jansie Niehaus
NSTF Executive Director and Spokesperson

Partners and sponsors:

  • South32 (co-branding sponsor)
  • Business Report and Mail & Guardian (media sponsor)
  • Eskom, GreenMatter and Water Research Commission (category sponsor)
  • Square Kilometre Array South Africa (Brilliants tour sponsor)
  • Department of Science and Technology and Department of Trade and Industry (platinum sponsor)
  • Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (gold sponsor)
  • proSET, a sector of the NSTF representing professional bodies (prize sponsor)



Last updated Wednesday, 5 July 2017 12:51

NSTF and SKA SA collaborate on astronomy tour for 2016 top matriculants in mathematics and science

Posted by Lynette Pieterse on Wednesday, 5 July 2017 14:18


NSTF and SKA SA collaborate on astronomy tour for 2016 top matriculants in mathematics and science

The National Science and Technology Forum (NSTF) is proud to announce a new collaboration with the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) South Africa to reward South Africa’s 2016 top matriculants in mathematics and physical science. The collaboration will see SKA SA support a national astronomy tour from 22-29 June for participants selected for the NSTF Brilliants Programme.

The programme recognises first-year students studying in the fields of science, medicine and engineering. The 2016 top-performing female and male matriculant from each of the nine provinces was selected for the programme, based on their marks in mathematics and physical science in the most recent National Senior Certificate (Grade 12) Examinations.

NSTF and SKA SA celebrate youth: The astronomy tour will conclude with the prestigious NSTF-South32 Awards Gala Dinner to be held at Emperor’s Palace, Kempton Park, Gauteng on 29 June. The Brilliants Awardees will be recognised and introduced to the science, engineering, technology (SET) and innovation community. Both events were scheduled in Youth Month to celebrate: Young people are our future innovators: NSTF’s Executive Director, Ms Jansie Niehaus said that top results in Grade 12 do not guarantee success. Many school leavers and even graduates struggle to find appropriate work and direction in their lives. This is a concern for SET industries, professionals and for the NSTF.

“By honouring the Brilliants top performers, these youth feel more encouraged, motivated and inspired to pursue their goals and realise their dreams. They also have a clearer understanding of the many interesting and fulfilling positions and possibilities that the National System of Innovation (which includes scientific research, engineering and industry) can offer” said Ms Niehaus.

Brilliants students to visit astronomy tourism sites: The astronomy tour hosted by SKA SA will see the Brilliants Awardees visit various astronomy sites, including the Hartebeesthoek Radio Astronomy Observatory outside Johannesburg, SKA site outside Carnarvon, South African Large Telescope (SALT) outside Sutherland, and South African Astronomical Observatory in Cape Town. Awardees will also be trained to assist during stargazing outreach events in the Karoo, participate in an introduction to big data workshop by Google, and visits various scientific tourism sites in Cape Town.

The tour will expose students to new fields of study and careers in SET, bursary opportunities at SKA SA, and role models in SET and innovation in South Africa. It is hoped that a visit to the various astronomy tourism sites will inspire the students to promote astronomy and astronomy tourism in South Africa.
Eastern Cape Eastern Cape
Ms Athini Mqolora Mr Siyabonga Ntshongela
Wongalethu High School Umtata Technical High School
MBChB (Medicine) BSc (Civil Engineering)
University of Cape Town Durban University of Technology
Bursary: None Bursary: National Youth Development Agency
Free State Free State
Ms Riana Nel Mr Ngakana Lawrence Salemane
C&N Meisieskool Oranje Le Reng Secondary School
MBChB (Medicine) BSc (Electro Mechanical Engineering)
University of the Free State University of Cape Town
Bursary: Free State Department of Education Bursary: Free State Department of Education
Gauteng (There were two individuals in the top place for both men and women)
Ms Margaret Jane Mouton Mr Bafana Mbata
Pretoria High School for Girls Sijabulile Secondary School
BSc (Mechanical Engineering) BSc (General)
University of Pretoria University of the Witwatersrand
Bursary: None Bursary: Ekurhuleni Municipality
and and
Ms Marlie Lente Harris Mr Thembinkosi Johannes Manyeruke
Afrikaanse Hoër Meisieskool Tsakane Secondary School
BSc (Veterinary Science) BSc (Mathematical Statistics)
University of Pretoria University of Pretoria
Bursary: None Bursary: Peermont Education Trust
(Emperors Palace)
KwaZulu-Natal KwaZulu-Natal
Ms Romal Naidoo Mr Ndumiso Perfect Ndamane
Danville Park Girls’ High School Umlazi Comtech Secondary School
MBChB (Medicine) BSc (Electrical Engineering)
Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University University of KwaZulu-Natal
Bursary: None Bursary: Ethekwini Municipality
Limpopo Limpopo
Ms Tovhowani Mulovhedzi Mr Dylan Hlamulo Maluleke
Thohoyandou Secondary Thohoyandou Technical High
MBChB (Medicine) BSc (Civil Engineering)
University of Pretoria University of Cape Town
Bursary: AfroCentric Group Bursary: Sasol
Mpumalanga Mpumalanga
Ms Naheeda Ebrahim Mr Nomaan Shoukat Mulla
Hoërskool Piet Retief Hoërskool Rob Ferreira
BPharm (Pharmacy) MBChB (Medicine)
University of KwaZulu-Natal University of the Witwatersrand
Bursary: Mpumalanga Department of Education Bursary: Mpumalanga Department of Education
North West North West
Ms Adriana Christiena Dodkins Mr Phemelo Ontiretse Nawane
Hoërskool Bergsig Holy Family Combined School
BSc (Veterinary Science) BSc (Mechanical Engineering)
Free State University University of the Witwatersrand
Bursary: None Bursary: Anglo American Platinum
Northern Cape Northern Cape
Ms Danique Visser Mr Gift Neo Smith
Hoërskool Hartswater Thabane High School
MBChB (Medicine) BDS (Dentistry)
University of Pretoria University of the Western Cape
Bursary: None Bursary: None
Western Cape Western Cape
Ms Jacobie Christina Mouton Mr Bronson Luke Rudner
Bloemhof High School SA College High School
BSc (General) BSc (General)
Stellenbosch University University of Cape Town
Bursary: None Bursary: None
Role of the NSTF: The NSTF is a stakeholder forum that includes organisations in state entities, business and communities. The NSTF engages with policy issues across various government departments and promotes collaboration and critical thinking among a broad range of stakeholders.

Objectives and background of the NSTF Awards: The NSTF Awards celebrate, acknowledge and promote excellence in the South African SET and innovation community by cross-cutting sectors, levels, gender, and race while recognising individuals, teams and organisations. These awards celebrate scientific research that is professional, innovative, forward looking and relevant to both South Africa and the rest of the world. The awards effort includes initiatives to raise awareness among the youth and the general public about local research and its relevance, as well as science-related careers.

The NSTF Awards have been held annually since 1998. There are a variety of sponsors, from both the public and private sector. The co-branding sponsor is South32 (the company that took over BHP Billiton’s operations in South Africa. Previously BHP Billiton was the co-branding sponsor).

The winners are announced at the NSTF-South32 Awards Gala Dinner, where 500-600 guests attend and the “who’s who” of SET and innovation can be found. The list of 17 winners is strictly embargoed until the night of the Awards Gala Dinner.

For more information on the NSTF initiatives: Visit www.nstf.org.za/awards and www.nstf.org.za/youth or contact us at the contact details below.

NSTF spokesperson: Ms Jansie Niehaus, Executive Director
SKA SA spokesperson: Mr Lorenzo Raynard, SKA SA General Manager: Communications & Stakeholder Relations, lraynard@ska.ac.za

Tom Rozwadowski Medal competition - Nominations

Posted by Lynette Pieterse on Tuesday, 4 April 2017 18:17

Dear ORSSA member,

Notice is hereby given to inform members that the nominations for the Tom Rozwadowski Medal is now open for nominations. Member of ORSSA can nominate papers published within the calendar year 2016 for inclusion in the adjudication process by sending me an electronic copy of the paper by email. All papers published in Volume 32 of ORiON will automatically be considered.

Nominations are open until May 12th, 2017. Please familiarise yourself with the rules of the competition before you send along any nominations.

Rules for the Tom Rozwadowski Competition:

  1. Contributions of an OR nature published in peer reviewed journals of international standing during the calendar year 2016 are eligible for consideration. (Contributions in published conference proceedings, whether peer reviewed or not, are not eligible.)
  2. Confidential or secret material will not be accepted for consideration.
  3. Only persons who were members of the Society, or who had already applied to become members of the Society, when the contribution was made, are eligible for the award. For the purposes of this clause, the publication date of the journal with the paper in it will be taken as the date of the contribution.
  4. Where the winning material is produced by co-authors, every co-author who meets the membership criterion in clause 3 above shall receive a medal.
  5. One or more of the following criteria may be used by the Selection Committee as a basis for selecting the winning entry:
  6. Originality,
  7. The quality of any theory developed,
  8. Interaction between theory & practice,
  9. New areas of application,
  10. New opportunities created for Operations Research, and
  11. Clarity of exposition.
  12. All contributions should be in English.
  13. Any member of the Society may submit a contribution for consideration or draw it to the attention of the Nominating Committee, whether they are an author or not, by sending an electronic copy of the nomination to the Vice President at danielotter@sun.ac.za

Please feel free to send me any nominations for the competition by email, or to make any suggestions that can potentially streamline the work of our committee.

Thanking you in advance for your contributions.

Kind Regards,

Danie Lötter

Vice President

ORSSA - Nominations for the Annual Student Competition are Now Open

Posted by Lynette Pieterse on Monday, 6 March 2017 12:14

The Operations Research Society of South Africa each year awards two prestige medals to the winners of its national student competition. These medals are

  • The Gerhard Geldenhuys Medal for the Best Fourth Year Project, and
  • The Theodor Stewart Medal for the Best Masters Thesis,

as featured in the March 2013 edition of the Society's Newsletter. Halls of Fame, featuring past winners of these medals, may be found at http://www.orssa.org.za/wiki/pmwiki.php?n=Awards.StudentCompetition.

The medals are awarded at the annual conference which this year takes place from 10 to 13 September at Champagne Sports Resort, Central Drakensberg (see the conference website at http://www.orssa.org.za/wiki/pmwiki.php?n=Conf.ORSSA). Entries to the competition will be ranked by an independent Selection Committee of expert judges not affiliated with the tertiary institutions of nominees, based solely on the written project or thesis submissions, after which the top two entries in each of the underlined categories above will be designated as finalists. There will be a special finalists' competition session at the conference during which these finalists (or representatives appointed by them) will be required to present their work in order to showcase the quality of the best operational research work by students in South Africa. Should a finalist neither be able to present their work at the conference nor be able to send a representative to present their work on their behalf, such an entry will be disqualified, in which case the third ranked entry, then the fourth ranked entry and so forth will be designated as finalist, until two finalists have been identified whose work can indeed be presented at the conference.

Nominations for written projects/theses in the above underlined categories are gathered by a Nomination Committee, which acts independently from the eventual Selection Committee. Supervising Lecturers are hereby invited to submit entries for the above competition categories to Marthi Harmse, the convenor of the Nomination Committee, at kmharmse@mweb.co by no later than Friday May 19th 2017. Students are not allowed to nominate their own work. Each nomination should be accompanied by a completed nomination form (see attached), and include a short statement by the supervisor in question on the degree of independence with which the student conducted the research as well as an electronic copy of the relevant project/thesis in pdf format on which the following information should appear clearly:

  1. Name of the student,
  2. Name of the supervisor, and
  3. Name of the University at which the project was submitted.

It is a requirement that students whose projects or theses are submitted should have qualified for graduation at their respective universities late in 2016 or early in 2017 (i.e. no earlier than May 1st 2016 and no later than April 30th 2017). The finalists will be announced on Friday June 30th 2017 and will be required to register and submit an abstract on their submitted work online (at http://www.orssa.org.za/wiki/pmwiki.php?n=Conf.SubmitAbstract) for presentation at the annual conference by July 14th 2017. A new set of competition rules, recently approved by the Executive Committee of the Operations Research Society of South Africa, is attached for your information.


Yours truly,


Marthi Harmse

Chair of the ORSSA Student Competition Nomination Committee


NominationForm.pdf 14.0K 6 Mar 17 12:14
ORSSA National Student Competition - Written competition.pdf 432.1K 6 Mar 17 12:14
ORSSA National Student Competition - Presentation Session.pdf 55.3K 6 Mar 17 12:14

NSTF eNews - Implications of the US President’s actions and policies for science and scientists

Posted by Lynette Pieterse on Monday, 6 March 2017 11:09



Message from NSTF Executive Director: Implications of the US President’s actions and policies for science and scientists

The NSTF discussion forum on 8 March will provide a platform to unpack the possible negative impact of the Trump administration’s actions and policies on science and scientists. Read more



Share `n Dare programme (sponsored by the Fuchs Foundation): Prof. Crick Lund visits Grahamstown

Prof. Crick Lund, winner of the 2015-2016 TW Kambule-NSTF Award for research and its outputs over a period of up to 15 years, visited Grahamstown on 13 February 2017 to talk to students and learners about public mental health. Read more

Update on 2016/2017 NSTF-South32 Awards


The 19th Awards gala dinner during which the winners will be announced will take place on 29 June 2017, with the Minister of Science and Technology in attendance as the patron of the awards. This year’s theme is Sustainable Tourism for Development #IY2017.

Click here for more information on the post-nomination process.

Upcoming Discussion Forums

NSTF Discussion Forums are public platforms that provide constructive interaction and discussion with government and stakeholders on key priority areas of concern to the science, engineering and technology (SET) and innovation community. Topics for discussion in the NSTF programme for 2017 are planned as follows:
  • Sustainable Tourism for Development (aligned with #IY2017, as declared by the United Nations)

  • New Science and Technology Policy, April 2017

  • Science Councils Discussion Forum on Sustainable Development Goals 2030, September 2017

  • Language Issues in Schools, October 2017


Bursary Directory (sponsored by the Fuchs Foundation)

Learners and students interested in joining the exciting world of SET are encouraged to start applying early for 2018 bursaries.

Visit the NSTF Bursary Directory to view the type of bursaries made available each year, such as the bursaries offered by Johannesburg Water (SOC) Ltd; the NRF’s iThemba LABS and the Council for Geoscience.

Click here for updates on available bursaries and to read inspiring stories of bright individuals in SET.

Getting to know the work of the 2015/2016 NSTF-South32 Award winners: Dr Tolu Oni


Dr Oni’s research addresses the challenges facing people and healthcare in the urban setting. She is a senior lecturer at the school of public health and family medicine, University of Cape Town, and winner of the 2015/2016 TW Kambule-NSTF Award for research and its outputs by an emerging researcher.

Read more about her work in an article published in the Mail & Guardian.


Featured SET policy: Marine Living Resources Act: Draft policies on Boat-based Whale and Dolphin Watching; and White Shark Cage Diving

The policy on boat-based whale and dolphin watching will guide the evaluation and allocation of permits in the industry to ensure that all eco-tourism activities related to whales and dolphins are sustainable and effectively managed. The policy on white shark cage diving (WSCD) aims to provide guidance to the processing and decision-making on permit allocations for WSCD activities. Read more

Other SET-related policies currently open for public comment


SET-related policy news




Send us your news

The NSTF invites all our members, as well as all SET and innovation role players, to send us information on meetings, conferences and activities of interest to the broader S&T community. Please send us your news by the 20th of the month, for distribution at the beginning of the following month, to enquiries@nstf.co.za


If you have any comments or suggestions on how we can improve this newsletter, please e-mail the NSTF Secretariat at enquiries@nstf.co.za


About the NSTF

The National Science and Technology Forum (NSTF), established in 1995, is a broadly-representative stakeholder body for all SET and innovation organisations in South Africa, which seeks to influence policy formulation and delivery.

The NSTF-South32 Awards are unique in SA, recognising the outstanding contributions of individuals and groups to SET and innovation.

The science bursaries page provides information on bursaries and bursary providers for science, engineering and related studies.



The NSTF has taken all practical measures to ensure that the material contained in this newsletter is correct. The NSTF reserves the right to make changes as it deems necessary.


Registration details submitted to the NSTF will be treated confidentially and will only be used by NSTF to communicate with its members and subscribers.


For more information

E-mail: enquiries@nstf.co.za
Tel: 27 12 841 3987
Fax: 27 12 841 3025
Non Profit Company Registration Number: 2007/029165/08
NPO Registration Number: 92042
Donor tax exemption for all donations to the NSTF















Last updated Monday, 6 March 2017 09:09

Media Release: Water Research Commission and the National Science and Technology Forum

Posted by Lynette Pieterse on Monday, 6 February 2017 15:53

WRC forges a strategic partnership with the NSTF to celebrate South African excellence in Water Management


The National Science and Technology Forum (NSTF) and the Water Research Commission (WRC) have over the years collaborated on water management solutions and towards enhancing strategic dialogues on water security. The NSTF and WRC are building on this foundation through a new water award category as part of the NSTF-South32 Awards. The partnership will strive to identify and celebrate the excellent work being done in water research and innovation in South Africa and to promote best practices in water management.

Mr Dhesigen Naidoo, CEO of the WRC stated that the Commission plays a strategic leadership role in water research, development and innovation, and the partnership with the NSTF demonstrates the need to move research to impact. He said the WRC-NSTF award will undeniably create a platform to honour and recognise outstanding achievements in water management that often go unseen and encourage the sector to be more pioneering.

The NSTF-South32 Awards takes place annually, honouring and celebrating outstanding contributions to science, engineering, technology (SET) and innovation in South Africa. The Awards have grown to be the largest and most prestigious public SET and innovation awards in South Africa and is a flagship project of the NSTF, in partnership with South32. The Awards are endorsed and supported by the Department of Science and Technology and the Honourable Minister of Science and Technology is the official patron.

NSTF Executive Director, Ms Jansie Niehaus stated that with the water security challenges experienced in our country and globally, it is paramount to drive innovation in this space. She is pleased to have the WRC come on board and raise the profile of SET for water security through the NSTF-South32 Awards platform.


The new NSTF-WRC award seeks to give recognition to the following contributions:

  • Leadership in water research, development and knowledge generation

  • Exceptional contributions towards informing and shaping the national water landscape through policy, decision-making and legislative enhancements

  • Innovations that demonstrate sustainable solutions to water challenges in South Africa

  • Outstanding work in trans-disciplinary approaches and water projects towards the empowerment of communities; and

  • Improved models for integrating water opportunities into entrepreneurship and new product developments that will have a positive impact on water management in South Africa

Registration of nominations are invited and processes for the awards can be found online - http://www.nstf.org.za/awards/

To find out more about the NSTF go to www.nstf.org.za
To find out more about the WRC go to www.wrc.org.za

Jansie Niehaus
NSTF Executive Director and Spokesperson
012 841 3987

Adriaan Taljaard
WRC Media Liaison
012 330 0340

Media release: Universities must fall? Discussion Forum with guest speaker, Prof. Barney Pityana

Posted by Lynette Pieterse on Thursday, 24 November 2016 08:12

Universities must fall?

Context behind the current student unrest

The student unrest, that started in 2015, indicates a fundamental change of attitude to the working out of South Africa’s constitutional democracy. Much is now under challenge and South Africans need to find a way out of this impasse, guided by the constitution’s values.

The students’ revolt exposes the contradiction that while universities are a critical feature of a developing society, there is a lack of understanding among students and the public of the university’s role and purpose. The state doesn’t invest sufficiently in universities and protesters seem willing to cripple these institutions for a perceived greater good.

This revolution has the potential to change South Africa for the better – if we pay attention to the critical elements.

About the NSTF Discussion Forum

The National Science and Technology Forum (NSTF) held a Discussion Forum on ‘Universities must fall? with guest speaker Prof. Barney Pityana. The event was held on 18 November 2016 in Gauteng.

About Prof Barney Pityana

Prof Pityana is the newly-appointed Vice-President of the Academy of Science of South Africa, President of the Convocation of the University of Cape Town, ex-vice chancellor and principal of the University of South Africa and former Chairman of the South African Human Rights Commission.

Rebellion to drive change in South Africa

Guest speaker at the NSTF Discussion Forum, Prof Barney Pityana, positioned the current situation as a rebellion with students casting off allegiances to authority and the current order. He says that this is a further stage in the national democratic revolution that must take place for a better South Africa.

Transformation in universities

“We tend to lose sight that universities have changed, but much still needs to change,” says Pityana. Higher education institutions have developed a great deal since the 1980s. There are new ways of teaching, advancing research, student demographics have changed, and more money has been made available to needy students.

However, white students still go to historically white institutions (HWI) and historically black institutions (HBIs) tend to be 100% black. While there is an increase in the number of black staff and women at universities, it’s difficult for black people to become full professors. These issues exist and need to be interrogated.

Cost of education

For a long time, universities have called for action on the funding problem and the need to prioritise higher education. But there are still ever-increasing costs to students.

This is compounded by government and the private sector contributing increasingly less funding to universities. Pityana says that it’s a continuation of the apartheid system where HBIs receive even less of this third-stream income.

Difficulties with consistent student leadership and identifying problems

The current student unrest is a continuation from #rhodesmustfall and #feesmustfall, highlighting the organic nature of the student action. The elected student leadership has been cast aside, with the result that there is no consistent voice for all the students. “Without consistent leadership, you can’t sit around a table and negotiate,” says Pityana.

Another challenge is understanding demands to ensure they can be met. For example, the funding of higher education is a government responsibility and therefore addressing these demands to Vice Chancellors means they are unlikely to be satisfied.

Secondly, demands should be consistent and not ever-changing. “The purpose of action is to arrive at a goal but, if demands and goals are not articulated effectively, it’s impossible to realise goals,” says Pityana.

Ideology and strategy to combat intolerance and violence

“If you are working towards something, you need a foundation of ideas and principles,” says Pityana. Current student activists need to create an ideology that underlies their actions and outlines future scenarios that respond to their demands.

Without an end strategy, how does one identify allies? How does one arrive at a concrete solution? The convolution of lack of strategy, ideology, leadership and demands also results in an intolerance of difference, violence and threats of violence.

Interrogating the decolonisation debate

Pityana contextualises the decolonisation debate around education and knowledge as “ignoring a body of knowledge because the perception is that it is informed by white power structures and hegemony”.

This presumes that ideas are normative and unchangeable, and that ideas are capable of being ‘owned’ by a race, group or culture. Pityana disagrees with this: “Ideas need to be interrogated from a number of perspectives.”

Can science be decolonised?

Within the call for decolonisation, there has been a backlash against science. But have the concept and history of science been understood?

Science is the ability to use collective thinking to solve problems. The general definition of science is the intellectual and practical activity where there is a pursuit and application of knowledge and understanding of the natural and social world, using a systematic methodology based on evidence.

This concept of science does not belong to the ‘West’. Its origins and ongoing scientific practices can be found all over the world, including Egypt, India and China. Much needs to be done to change the misconceptions around science as a western concept.

Threat to existence of universities

“There is a real and imminent threat to the ideal of the university in our country,” says Pityana. Universities cannot continue with ongoing instability.

He predicts a brain drain, with academics not wanting to be attached to South African universities, students sent to other countries to study, and the quantity and outcome of universities becoming increasingly less viable. “This is a slippery slide that will be hard to reverse,” says Pityana.

Mirror of what is happening in the country

Pityana says that what is happening at universities is playing out in the rest of society. In sociological terms, the country is experiencing a state of anomie. There is government by demand, intolerance, impatience, and distrust of all forms of authority.
There needs to be a new appreciation of constitutional democracy. “We no longer recognise we are a country of multiplicities of language, culture, race etc, and this is what the constitution seeks to protect,” says Pityana. “The imagination that propelled this country in 1994 needs to be recaptured.”

Move forward with discussion

There is a need to get back to basics. “We’re a society based on dialogue,” says the professor and former student activist. “At CODESA, we were willing to sit at a table and discuss because we all loved our country and knew we all belonged.” From the current unrest perspective, students need to talk as a starting point for moving forward.

Taking responsibility

“We have all this mayhem at universities but who is taking responsibility?” asks Pityana. For society to take responsibility, it also means looking to the black middle class, private sector and the government. There is a need for tools to resolve the issues. Pityana recommends a forum for dialogues and a place to test solutions.

Academics and academia also need to take responsibility. Pityana believes that we now have a culture where we’re not supposed to say what is wrong and this has translated into actions of populism.

Universities should be hubs of engagement and critical discussion but, says Pityana, “...academics must take responsibility that we have failed students to enable the process of critical thought and logic to check themselves”.

What is the African university?

Pityana says that not enough time has been spent on the idea of an African university. However, first young people need to understand why they go to university, beyond being able to support themselves and their family.

“The university does more than serve a utilitarian ideal. It’s humanising and it’s an agent of civilisation. Unless, as a society, we agree on a common understanding of the university’s role, it will be difficult to come to a shared mindset about how current problems can be addressed,” says Pityana. “We need to interrogate the idea of the African university, debate the issues and recognise that decolonisation is a process and not an event.”


Following are some recommendations that came out of the discussion forum:

  • Issues in higher education stretch across the entire education system. Critical areas, like education and health, should be the priority and resources need to be allocated accordingly.

  • Revisit the current Fees Commission where issues are considered holistically. The commission needs to be more open and include more education representatives.

  • Appoint a national mediator/university ombudsman to bring together the various student issues concisely.

  • Discuss the notion of ‘free’ education, including dispelling the myth that education is ever really free.

  • More resources need to be put into HBIs, and vocational training institutions. It’s important to eradicate the racist culture and perception that these facilities are not as good.

  • Address the issue of the unemployed and unemployed graduates as this is a time bomb waiting to happen.

Video clips with the full speech and discussion can be found on the NSTF web site (www.nstf.org.za).

TechWomen: Applications for the 2017 program

Posted by Lynette Pieterse on Wednesday, 23 November 2016 09:12

TechWomen, an initiative of the U.S. Department of State, brings emerging women leaders in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) from Africa, South and Central Asia, and the Middle East together with their professional counterparts in the United States for a mentorship and exchange program based in San Francisco. During the five-week program, participants engage in project-based mentorships at leading companies in the San Francisco Bay Area and Silicon Valley.

The 2017 program will include 100 women from the following countries: Algeria, Cameroon, Egypt, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Morocco, Nigeria, Pakistan, Palestinian Territories, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Tajikistan, Tunisia, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Zimbabwe.

We are accepting applications for the 2017 program until January 17, 2017. We are looking for women who have demonstrated themselves as emerging leaders in their chosen profession, through their work experience, volunteer experience, community activities and education. Please consider forwarding this message to your pertinent networks. Flyers in multiple languages, as well as suggested tweets and social media posts, are available here.

TechWomen’s mission is centered on empowering and supporting change agents around the world. I deeply appreciate your help in sharing this opportunity. Please let me know if you have any questions, and thank you for your support of global women leaders!

All the best,

Molly Pyle

Molly Pyle
Program Officer, TechWomen
Institute of International Education (IIE)

530 Bush St. Suite 1000; San Francisco, CA 94108

Tel +1.415.362.6520 x231 | Mobile +1.904.501.8422

www.techwomen.org | www.iie.org/women

Media release: The water sector - a new future of doing things differently

Posted by Lynette Pieterse on Tuesday, 4 October 2016 09:32

The water sector – a new future of doing things differently

Investigating water and the scarcity of skills

Water – a critical and finite resource – doesn’t appear to be top of mind for people. There is news of drought and restrictions yet water is wasted.

It’s clear that water is undervalued. Further challenges include an ageing water infrastructure, increasing water demand and inadequate supply. Now add a critical skills shortage into the mix.

The National Science and Technology Forum (NSTF) held a Discussion Forum on ‘Skills Drought in the Water Sector’. The event ran from 26-27 September 2016 in Gauteng. It was hosted by the NSTF Science Councils sector, in collaboration with the Water Research Commission (WRC).

South Africans need to change the way they think about water

  • SA is the 30th driest country in the world
  • The world average use of water is 177 litres of water per person per day
  • In SA, our average is 235 litres per person per day
(Source: Water research Commission)

Global water crisis

The World Economic Forum’s ‘2015 Global Risk Report’ named ‘water crises’ as the world’s greatest risk in 2015. It remains at the same level of risk in 2016, but climate change (which involves water) is now positioned as the number one threat.

Water can’t be viewed in isolation. It’s part of a nexus: water, food and energy. All of these are interlinked and fundamental building blocks of the future.

How much embedded water do you throw away?

While 60% of water is used by agriculture, households throwing food away waste 30% of that water. This embedded water refers to the amount of water needed to produce something from start to finish.
  • 1 potato = 25 litres
  • 1 slice of bread = 40 litres
  • 1 egg = 135 litres
  • 1 glass of milk = 200 litres
  • 1 hamburger = 2400 litres
(Source: Agricultural Research Council)

Complexity of the Water Sector

The SA water value chain is complex and the skills needed in this sector echo this. The skills go far beyond civil engineering, such as legal, financial and negotiation skills. In the EWSETA Sector Skills Plan (2011-2016), the highest number of skills gaps is in management staff.

Emerging occupations/skills have been identified. In some cases, there are skills gaps with no title for that specific job, as well as jobs that aren’t part of the official occupation codes. How does one develop skills that aren’t recognised in the system?

Considering research and innovation

While the skills needed in the water sector are expanding, so too is the research agenda and its associated skills. New areas include Big Data, the Green Economy and changing behaviours around water.

There are SA innovations that have become game changers. Consider the purple pipes placed alongside the normal pipe system for recycling up to 80% of water in households. New sanitation research has produced a low-flush toilet system that saves 40-70% of water and has a biodigestive system that produces energy.

There is research that can lead to business opportunities, such as in resource recovery (mining water for minerals). With significant financial gain, producing drinking water becomes a by-product and part of the company’s social responsibility

Water research is now transdisciplinary, cutting across sectors and using integrated approaches.

Bringing innovation to market
While South Africa has some excellent research, the challenge is around development stage funding. This is the phase post initial research and before commercialisation.

One of the solutions to commercialising technology involves developing technology business incubators. Part of an initiative driven by the Technology Innovation Agency, this industrialisation of research brings together technology, the commercial world and technology entrepreneurship.

The initiative includes an accredited qualification: the Technology and Innovation Manager. This Masters programme is a world first and begins in January 2017.

Why the critical lack of skills?

Beyond a history of skills shortages in the sector, the reason for the skills scarcity is similar to many sectors: lack of coordination around capacity building and training, duplication of effort and a lack of aligned strategic direction and planning. In addition, there’s uncertainty around qualifications, career paths and standardisation mechanisms.

Chapter 15 of the National Water Resources Strategy 2nd Edition (2013) addresses much of this and the Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS) has made progress on strategic actions. However, a great deal more needs to be done by all stakeholders.

A specific training challenge to be addressed is around the group of unemployed graduated students. Water industry education and training is just the start because, without experience, graduated students can’t qualify nor join professional bodies. However, industry hasn’t bought into internships and mentorships.


Following are some of the recommendations from the discussion forum:
  • Skills around management, leadership and communication should be integrated into training
  • Develop and promote ‘water sector’-type qualifications and careers but these need to be defined first
  • Develop short courses around new skills for continuing professional development
  • Government projects should use the graduate pool so students gain experience
The NSTF will release a full discussion report within two weeks. Currently individual presentations and video clips can be found on the NSTF website (www.nstf.org.za).

Input into the DWS’ national skills and development plan

The Department of Water and Sanitation is in the initial stages of developing a national skills and development plan. While feedback from forum will inform the new strategy, there is still time to send suggestions around skills and capacity in the water sector.

Contact Kentse Mathiba - mathibak@dws.gov.za

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