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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

Call for Nominations 2016/2017 NSTF - South32 Awards!

Posted by Lynette Pieterse on Wednesday, 16 November 2016 14:29


Call for nominations: 2016/2017 NSTF-
South32 Awards!

Now is the time to present the excellence of South Africa’s science, engineering and technology (SET) contribution. Our country produces outstanding work. The youth need role models that show what can be achieved. Individuals working in SET deserve recognition for their hard work. Globally, South Africa’s standing within SET needs to be highlighted. You can make a difference – nominate champions for the NSTF-South32 Awards.

Register nominations online: 9 December 2016

The National Science and Technology Forum (NSTF) hereby calls for nominations for the 19th prestigious NSTF-South32 Awards. Register nominations for individuals and/or teams and organisations for an outstanding contribution to SET and innovation in South Africa.

The contributions that are recognised are:
  • Scientific research
  • Capacity building in engineering and research
  • Research leading to innovation
  • Environmental sustainability and biodiversity
  • Water management solutions * new feature
  • Data for research * new feature
  • Management of SET and innovation
  • Science Communication
  • Technology transfer
  • Education and training
  • And a Special Annual Theme Award for contributions that promote Sustainable Tourism for Development

What’s new this year?

  1. The NSTF and the Water Research Commission (WRC) forged a new partnership to launch the NSTF-WRC Award this year. The new NSTF-WRC Award recognises individuals and researchers in teams and organisations working towards sustainable water management and knowledge generation solutions. The Award recognises demonstrated leadership and impact.
  2. Another new award is launched this year - for an outstanding contribution to SET and innovation by advancing the availability, management and use of data for research. This is meant to encompass the work of an individual or a team (including for example researchers/scientists, data scientists, data stewards) to be rewarded for the generation, preservation and sharing of a valuable scientific resource in the form of a data set/ or data collection process for a data set that is of national interest or for the public good, and that is openly available to be re-used and / or re-packaged in products that are of public good and interest or that could be integrated into products that contribute to the development of South Africa.
  3. Special Annual Theme Award: The NSTF is making a special award this year for a contribution to SET and innovation which contributes to or supports Sustainable Tourism for Development, in recognition of the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development declared by the United Nations (UN). Nominators are being asked to make a nomination in any of the other categories as appropriate, and where they consider that the contribution can also be considered for this award, they indicate this in the relevant tick box and then complete additional questions at the end of the criteria, which will support the nomination in this category. This is expanded on in the section on the Special Annual Theme Award.

The Vision of the NSTF is:

A transformed country where SET and innovation contribute to a high quality of life for all who live in SA, where the profile of SET professionals is representative of the population’s profile and where the education system is effective, particularly in terms of performance in SET subjects and promoting innovation.

The Awards are one of the ways in which the NSTF strives to realise this. Partnerships for specific awards such as that with the WRC, GreenMatter, and Eskom lead to recognition of contributions that have the potential to make a positive impact on South Africa, and on the world. Watch this space for news on new partners.

Two-step nomination process:

  • Step 1 – Deadline: 9 December 2016: Identify your candidate and register your nomination online by 12:00 on this day. The information will be captured in the NSTF database and provides the basis for all further processing and communications relating to the nomination. The NSTF will acknowledge receipt of the registration electronically, and provide the official Nomination forms for completion by the second and final deadline of Stage 2 of the nomination process. Please look out for this email, and note its content carefully. Contact the NSTF Office if you did not receive the confirmation e-mail.

  • Step 2 – Deadline: 3 March 2017: The completed nomination documents must be e-mailed to the NSTF at any time up to this closing date but must reach the NSTF by no later than this closing date. The criteria interpretation in relation to each of the awards is clarified in the examples of Nomination Forms on the NSTF web site.

NSTF-South32 Awards categories:

All the awards are for “an outstanding contribution to SET and innovation…” (The complete title of each award starts with this wording.)
Categories – Full title: Working title:
1. Awards for individual contributions  
1.1 An outstanding contribution to SET and innovation over a lifetime (15 years or more) Lifetime award
1.2 TW Kambule-NSTF Awards: an outstanding contribution to SET and innovation by an individual researcher (up to 15 years after award of PhD or equivalent in research) Senior researcher award
1.3 TW Kambule-NSTF Awards: an outstanding contribution to SET and innovation by an emerging researcher (Post-docs up to six years after award of PhD or equivalent in research) Emerging researcher award
1.4 An outstanding contribution to SET and innovation through management and related activities Management and related activities award
2. An outstanding contribution to SET and innovation through research or engineering capacity development, by an individual. Sponsored by Eskom Capacity development award
3. NSTF-GreenMatter Award: for an outstanding contribution to SET and innovation in South Africa, towards achieving biodiversity conservation, environmental sustainability and a greener economy (over the last five to ten years) GreenMatter award
4. NSTF-Water Research Commission Award: for an outstanding contribution to SET and innovation in South Africa, towards sustainable water management, and knowledge generation solutions; to be awarded in recognition of demonstrated leadership and impact Water Research Commission award
5. An outstanding contribution to SET and innovation, for advancing the availability, management and use of data for research Data for research award
6. Awards for research leading to innovation: an outstanding contribution to SET and innovation through:
6.1 A Corporate organisation; or
6.2 A Small, medium or micro enterprise (SMME)
Research for innovation awards
7.Award for communication for outreach and creating awareness (over the last five years by a team or individual) Communication award
8. Award to a Non-governmental organisation for an outstanding contribution to SET and innovation (over the last five to ten years) NGO award
9. Special Annual Theme Award (awarded according to criteria in any of the above categories and the additional criteria in section 12 of the Nomination Form): For 2017 this Award is made for an outstanding contribution to SET and innovation which contributes to or supports Sustainable Tourism for Development, in recognition of the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development as declared by the UN Special annual theme award


The NSTF Awards were established in 1998. This was just three years after the founding of the NSTF, a uniquely South African non-profit forum of SET organisations promoting SET and innovation collaboratively with its members in South Africa.


The Awards and associated youth outreach projects aim to contribute to national efforts to:
  • Achieve sustainable economic growth for South Africa
  • Improve the quality of life of its people
  • Promote excellence among SET practitioners and in research, development and innovation
  • Profile SET and innovation to communities and the public
  • Encourage young people to undertake careers in SET

Post-nomination Processes

The processes that will follow the final deadline are:
  • An adjudication panel of independent judges, representing six different sectors of the NSTF membership as well as the award partners, will review the nominations to select the finalists and winners
  • The announcement of the nominees through the NSTF e-Newsletter during April 2017
  • The announcement of the finalists during May 2017
  • Summaries of the finalists’ work are published in the annual Who’s Who in SET and innovation booklet, which is distributed at the Gala Dinner and made available online on the web site
  • The announcement of the winners and celebration will take place at the prestigious Awards Gala Dinner with the Patron, the Minister of Science and Technology, planned for late June or beginning of July 2017

Publicity and Outreach Campaign with Winners

This prestigious recognition also profiles the winners as role models to thousands of young people at Science Centres and Universities across the country, through an outreach programme named the Share 'n Dare Programme, in which the youth are inspired by the Award winners to take up careers in SET. Thousands of South Africans are also reached through the Awards media partnerships with Business Report and Mail&Guardian, ensuring that not only the winners but also their employers are recognised for their expertise in SET.

Please forward this email to your colleagues, business contacts and all interested persons and help us find and acknowledge the Who’s Who in SET and innovation in South Africa!

2017 is the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development #IY2017, as declared by the UN. This theme will be celebrated by the NSTF in various ways, including the 2016/2017 NSTF-South32 Awards Gala Dinner.

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

Winners of the 2015/2016 NSTF-South32 Awards

Posted by Lynette Pieterse on Friday, 1 July 2016 11:47

Winners of the 2015/2016 NSTF-South32 Awards

Media Release – 30 June 2016

The 18th National Science and Technology Forum (NSTF)-South32 Awards Gala Dinner was held in Gauteng on Thursday, 30 June 2016. Contributions to excellence in science, engineering and technology (SET) and innovation were awarded and celebrated in the following broad areas:
  • Scientific research
  • Capacity building in engineering and research
  • Research leading to innovation
  • Scientific contributions towards environmental sustainability
  • Management of SET and innovation
  • Science communication
  • And a Special Annual Theme Award for Crop Science and Food Security
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, thereby 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-South32
Awards is the flagship project of the NSTF, the most representative multi-stakeholder non-profit forum in South Africa promoting science and technology through collaborative effort. The awards are a showcase of the research and development capacity of our nation. The outstanding contributions of the Awardees to SET and innovation generate 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 and they were also 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 Awards were the first scientific awards in the country to run this type of initiative.

Award winners: The awards were presented by the Honourable Minister of Science and Technology, Mrs Naledi Pandor, who is also the patron of the event. She celebrated along with almost 600 guests and over 40 different organisations from the broader community. Details of the award finalists, including the winners’ work are available online in the Who’s Who of SET and innovation in SA booklet that is published to honour the finalists competing for the prestigious NSTF-South32 Awards. The booklet is also meant to list the skills complement critical for the development and socio-economic growth of South Africa.

The NSTF and its sponsors take pride in congratulating the 2015/2016 NSTF-South32 Award winners!

These are all awards for an outstanding contribution to SET and innovation by teams, organisations and individuals…

Prof. Bert Klumperman

Distinguished Professor of Polymer Science, Stellenbosch University (SU)
Lifetime Award

Prof. David Kenneth Berger
Professor, Department of Plant Sciences, University of Pretoria
Special Annual Theme Award: Crop Science and Food Security, in honour of the 2016 International Year of Pulses, as declared by the United Nations (sponsored by the Department of Science and Technology - DST)

Prof. Crick Lund
Director: Alan J Flisher Centre for Public Health, University of Cape Town (UCT)
TW Kambule-NSTF Awards for research and its outputs over a period of up to 15 years after award of a PhD or equivalent by an individual - by an individual (two awards),


Prof. Bhekisipho Twala
Director: Institute for Intelligent Systems, Professor of Artificial Intelligence and Statistical Sciences, University of Johannesburg
TW Kambule-NSTF Awards for research and its outputs over a period of up to 15 years after award of a PhD or equivalent by an individual

Prof. Sue Harrison
Director: Centre for Bioprocess Engineering Research, DST/National Research Foundation (NRF) Chair: South African Research Chairs Initiative (SARChI), Bioprocess Engineering, UCT
For Engineering capacity development over the last 5-10 years - 2 awards (sponsored by Eskom)


Prof. Thokozani Majozi
DST/NRF SARChI Chair: Sustainable Process Engineering, School of Chemical and Metallurgical Engineering, University of the Witwatersrand
For Engineering capacity development over the last 5-10 years (sponsored by Eskom)

Prof. Peter Dunsby
Professor of Cosmology and Co-Director: Astrophysics, Cosmology and Gravity Centre, Department of Mathematics and Applied Mathematics, UCT
For Research capacity development over the last 5-10 years

Dr Tolu Oni
Head of Department and Director: School of Public Health and Family Medicine, UCT
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 (prizes sponsored by proSET – sector of the NSTF representing Professional Bodies and Learned Societies)


Dr Sudesh Sivarasu
Senior Lecturer, Biomedical Engineering, UCT
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) - (prizes sponsored by proSET)

Dr Suprakas Sinha Ray
Chief Researcher and Director: Polymer Nanocomposites, DST-Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) Nanotechnology Innovation Centre; and National Centre for Nano-structured Materials, CSIR
For Management and related SET activities over the past 5-10 years

Mondi Ecological Networks Programme
Team Leader: Prof. Michael Samways, Distinguished Professor and Academic Principal, Department of Conservation Ecology and Entomology, SU
NSTF-GreenMatter Award towards achieving biodiversity conservation, environmental sustainability and a greener economy (sponsored by GreenMatter)

Prof. Jan Smit
Manager: Science Centre, North-West University
For Communication for outreach and creating awareness

Advanced Casting Technologies, CSIR Materials Science and Manufacturing
Research Group Leader: Dr Gonasagren Govender
Research leading to innovation by a team or individual through a Corporate organisation

Umvoto Africa (Pty) Ltd
Managing Director: Ms Rowena Hay
Research leading to innovation by a team or individual through a Small, Medium and Micro Enterprise

Chief Executive Officer: Mr Jonathan Naidoo
Non-Governmental Organisation over the last 5-10 years including technology transfer and education/training activities
The winners were awarded with state-of-the-art trophies, manufactured through additive manufacturing (industrial 3D laser printing) with advanced materials (titanium), a first in SA and possibly the world. View the video on the story behind the making of the trophy.

Ms Jansie Niehaus
Executive Director and Spokesperson

NSTF, the non-profit stakeholder body for all SET and innovation organisations in South Africa

Media release: Collaboration and alignment – way forward for SA food security

Posted by Lynette Pieterse on Tuesday, 21 June 2016 09:36

Collaboration and alignment – way forward for SA food security

10 June 2016

Fact: The South African constitution, the highest law in the land, says citizens have the right to adequate food access.
Fact: SA, a developing country, needs to improve its economy for growth, wealth equity and global competitiveness. With an economy based on free market principles, there is limited government intervention on pricing. Now consider food security as it sits right in the middle of these competing positions.

The complex issue of food security was a core theme at the Discussion Forum on Pulses and Food Security, an event aligned to the United Nations’ International Year of Pulses 2016 (IYP 2016). Held from 2-3 June 2016, the forum was hosted by the National Science and Technology Forum (NSTF), sponsored by the Department of Science and Technology (DST) and partnered by the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) and AGT Foods Africa.

UN’s International Year of Pulses 2016
The IYP 2016 focuses on the nutritional benefits of pulses – as part of sustainable food production for food security and nutrition.

While pulses provide an introduction to food security, the issues around food security go beyond this crop.

Understanding food security
In 1996, the World Food Summit defined the multi-dimensional nature of food security: “Food security exists when all people, at all times, have physical and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food that meets their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life.”

About pulses

Pulses are the dry edible seeds of certain plants in the legume family. This includes chickpeas, lentils, dry beans and dry peas.

Pulses provide a concrete example of crops that provide better food security. They are:

  • Nutrient rich and an inexpensive source of protein
  • Shelf-stable which means low food waste
  • Can be grown in marginal areas and many are drought-resistant
  • Beneficial to animal and soil health, very water efficient, and support biodiversity
Find information, tool kits and educational material on: www.pulses.org,
www.fao.org/pulses-2016/en/ and
Dr Tobias Takavarasha, the UN’s Food and Agricultural Organization Representative: SA, highlighted some of the global challenges:
  • The world population will reach 9.1bn in 2050, with 70% living in urban areas. Food production must increase by 70% to meet demand.
  • Food security is also challenged by food loss (due to pests and waste), climate change, droughts and floods, and poverty.
SA’s systemic competing interests
While access to food is a human right, food is also a commodity. The competing interests don’t end there – they are embedded along the food value chain.

Consider the apportioning of SA’s agricultural land. Mr Sibongiseni Ndimande, DAFF Deputy Director: Food Security Policy Analysis and Development, noted that SA has only 12% agricultural land that is high potential, 22% suitable and 66% considered marginal lands. Yet prime agricultural land is lost to mining in SA. And there is no law that protects agricultural land as exists in other countries.

While the amount of agricultural land is being reduced, SA’s population is going up – and that includes the number of people with inadequate access to food. (It rose to 14,1mn in 2014.) This doesn’t only have a present-day impact. Malnutrition in children causes irreversible damage with a lifelong influence on the individual and implications for the labour force.

Human resource challenges are part of the food security challenge. Ndimande noted that less people are farming full-time.

Hunger in SA
  • 14.1mn citizens have food access challenges.
  • The poor spend over 66% of their income on food.
  • Food prices increased by 9.8% in March 2016 – with a significant negative impact on this income group
(Information provided by DAFF.)

Drought has also affected food security, with agricultural production falling by 14% since the fourth quarter of 2014. Preliminary estimates indicate that the 2016 maize crop will be 25% less than 2015 – and maize meal is a food staple. The crop value chain is also integrally connected to other food chains, such as poultry which feeds on maize. Consequently, an unprecedented 3.8mn tons will need to be imported.

The solution? While we need to keep the economy moving it cannot be at the expense of food security. Ndimande says it comes down to collaboration.

SA’s integrated Food Security Strategy (IFSS 2000)

DAFF is currently finalising the food security implementation strategy, IFSS 2000. The pillars consider various factors such as:

  • Improved nutritional safety nets (eg school food programmes)
  • Improved nutrition education including about pulses
  • Investment in agriculture
  • Improved market participation
  • Promoting smallholder producers for the Government Food Purchase Programme
  • Food and nutrition risk management (including prioritising investment in research and technology development)
  • Improved access to information
Call to input into the IFSS 2000

The IFSS 2000 has various platforms for multi-stakeholder involvement. Contact
Sibongiseni Ndimande at sibongiseniN@daff.gov.za for
more information.

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

  • The need for more communication between producers, distributors and consumers so that expectations are aligned.
  • Collaboration – not only across the food chain but between government and the private sector and between government departments.
  • The recognition of indigenous knowledge systems around food security.
  • The urgent need for investment in R&D.
The NSTF will release a full discussion report within two weeks. Currently individual presentations and video clips are available.

Spokesperson: Ms Jansie Niehaus (Executive Director: NSTF)
Speakers that addressed the forum can be contacted through the spokesperson at the contact details below.

Calling all unemployed Built Environment Professionals

Posted by Lynette Pieterse on Sunday, 6 March 2016 20:36

Please find attached document from the Council for the Built Environment (CBE). All enquiries should be directed to Khuthala Mokoene at khuthala@cbe.org.za.


Advert_unemployed BEPs 14012016.pdf 22.1K 6 Mar 16 20:36

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