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SAIIE Newsletter: May 2019

Posted by Lynette Pieterse on Thursday, 9 May 2019 09:58

Please find attached the SAIIE May 2019 Newsletter. 


SAIIE Newsletter_Vol 4_ May 2019_Final.pdf 1.6M 9 May 19 09:58

NSTF eNews April 2019: Idai – a cruel and costly lesson, nominees for NSTF-South32 Awards announced and more…

Posted by Lynette Pieterse on Friday, 3 May 2019 16:21



Email: enquiries@nstf.co.za | Tel: +27 12 841 3987


Idai - A cruel and costly lesson

Message from the NSTF Executive Director, Ms Jansie Niehaus.
Despite the best efforts of development aid, disaster relief, early warning systems, and Beira’s very forward thinking mayor, Idai took everyone by surprise, taking lives and livelihoods. Why could the cyclone not be predicted and what measures were taken to prevent the disaster? What can we do to prevent or mitigate such disasters? Read the message.


Nominees for the 2018/2019 NSTF-South32 Awards announced

The nominees for 2018/2019 NSTF-South32 Awards have been announced. Adjudication commenced and the finalists will be announced in May. The NSTF congratulates all the nominees contending for this year’s Awards.



Two new sponsors join NSTF-South32 Awards

The Lewis Foundation, which funds conservation and animal welfare programmes, is the new sponsor of the Green Economy Awards. The Johannesburg-based Foundation strives for world shaping environmental impact.

The National Intellectual Property Management Office (NIPMO), a specialised service delivery unit of the Department of Science and Technology, is the new sponsor of the Small, Medium and Micro Enterprise (SMME) category of the Innovation Awards. NIPMO is responsible for implementing the Intellectual Property Rights from the Publicly Financed Research and Development Act (No. 51 of 2008).

The NSTF welcomes these two sponsors on board. We appreciate your involvement in the prestigious NSTF-South32 Awards.


Attend the 21st NSTF-South32 Awards Gala dinner

The 21st NSTF-South32 Awards Gala dinner will take place on Thursday, 27 June 2019. The attendance of the Minister of Science and Technology, as the patron of the event, is confirmed.
The dinner, with the theme ‘Periodic Table of Chemical Elements’ will be held in Gauteng. The theme celebrates the 150th anniversary since Dmitry Mendeleev discovered the Periodic System. 2019 has been designated by the United Nations as the International Year of the Periodic Table (IYPT2019).
To book your table, contact Ms Kgaugelo Teffo at enquiries@nstf.org.za.
For sponsorship details, contact Ms Wilna Eksteen at enquiries@nstf.org.za.



Discussion Forum presentations and videos available

The presentations and video clips of the March 2019 NSTF Discussion Forum on Chemical Elements for South Africa’s Future (#IYPT_za) are now available on the NSTF website. You are welcome to send comments to enquiries@nstf.org.za. A media release on the forum, ‘Mining the Fourth Industrial Revolution’, which covered Rare elements for new technologies (#elements4tech) has been released.
The Discussion Forum programme for the rest of 2019 includes:

·         IYPT and Sustainable Development Goals, in partnership with the Department of Science and Technology (DST). This forum follows up on the one held in March and will take place in mid-May. Details will be in the invitation that will be circulated by mid-April. 

·         Advanced Manufacturing and Smart Factories in partnership with the NSTF proSET sector (Professionals in science, engineering and technology) – 11-13 September in collaboration with the SA Innovation Summit, Cape Town.

·         Career pathways of researchers in partnership with the NSTF Science Councils sector – October 2019.

The DST has introduced two new initiatives with the NSTF: Educators’ workshops on the Periodic Table of Elements will be held in July; and girl learners will be inspired by NSTF Awards winners as part of the NSTF Share ‘n Dare outreach programme.
Subscribe to the monthly NSTF eNews to receive invitations first hand.
Become a member of the NSTF to participate free of charge in NSTF Discussion Forums.


Bursary Directory

The bursaries in science, engineering and technology (SET) that are currently available, are:

·         FMCSA Ford Bursary (open)

·         Power Group Bursaries (open)

·         GAST Bursary Programme (open)

·         Allan Gray Fellowship (closes 02 August

·         IDC Bursary Programme (closes 31 July)

·         Kumba Iron Ore’s Bursary Programme (closes 30 April)

·         Sasol Bursary Scheme (closes 30 April)

Find information on the latest SET bursaries in the NSTF Bursary Directory. This service is sponsored by the Fuchs Foundation.


Share ‘n Dare: Award winners inspiring the youth

The NSTF Share ‘n Dare programme provides a platform for NSTF-South32 Award winners to reach out to youth and act as role models and ambassadors for SET (science, engineering and technology) and innovation.  This programme is sponsored by the Carl & Emily Fuchs Foundation.
Scifest Africa 2019
The NSTF hosted its March round of Share ‘n Dare talks at Scifest Africa in Grahamstown from 11-12 March. The NSTF-South32 Award winners who generously gave of their time and shared their knowledge with the youth, were Ms Sibongile Shongwe, the CEO of the Platinum Incubator and Prof Leslie Petrik of the University of the Western Cape. Read more.


NSTF partners with Innovation Summit and Triple Helix Conference

The SA Innovation Summit will be hosting the XVII Triple Helix Conference in Cape Town from 9 – 11 September 2019. It will be the first time the Triple Helix Conference is hosted in Africa. The NSTF is partnering with the Innovation Summit (11-13 September) where it will present a Discussion Forum on Advanced Manufacturing and smart factories.
The Triple Helix model presents an opportunity to achieve innovation outcomes for the socio-economic good through collaboration with multi-stakeholders within academia, industry and government spheres. The first conference was held in Amsterdam in 1996 and bi-annual conferences has occurred since then.
In 2019, SA Innovation Summit is taking competitions to the next level, a level that might take the winner to open markets further up Africa, to India, to Stuttgart and to Silicon Valley. The Summit is associated with the Pitching Den and the Inventors Garage, but in 2019, they are adding more competitions for the tech entrepreneur.


Mzansi Bright Sparks

Refilwe Selepe is from Qwa-Qwa in the Free State. She is studying medicine at the University of the Witwatersrand.
She is one of the first-year students that were recognised in the 2017/2018 NSTF Brilliants Programme for her marks in mathematics and physical science in the National Senior Certificate examination.
Refilwe was ranked number three from the top 100 learners in her province last year.

“Every person who is loving, caring, willing to serve, willing to truly lead, or who is successful, inspires me because that's the whole package of what I want to become as I grow up.”


Join the vibrant NSTF community

If your organisation has a mandate related to science, engineering and technology, and innovation, you have a lot to gain by joining the NSTF as a member. Among the many benefits are involvement with other organisations in the NSTF to engage with government policy issues and enhancing the voice of your sector through your involvement. Your organisation will be supporting a credible, trustworthy non-profit company which undertakes community service projects.
Your organisation can participate in the four or five annual NSTF Discussion Forums with topics covering issues pertinent to science, engineering and technology (SET) and innovation. There is no delegate registration fee for members. Read more and apply here.



Featured SET policy: Social protection (Chapter 11, NDP)

In a series of articles, the NSTF is unpacking the National Development Plan (NDP), which aims to eliminate poverty and reduce inequality by 2030. This section focuses on Social Protection. Read more.
Click here for the complete document of all the previous summaries.

SET-related policies currently open for public comment

Policies open for comment allow the science, engineering and technology (SET) community to keep track of the changing regulation environment.

National Environmental Management: Protected Areas Act: Intention to withdraw portions of land declared as part of Karoo National Park (Comment by 8 May 2019)

SET-related policy news

·         Consultative Workshop on the Shale Gas Science Action Plan (assaf.co.za)

·         Cabinet mulls further financial support for Eskom (engineeringnews.co.za)


·         Postgraduate Engineering Key for Future Growth (assaf.co.za)

Environment and climate change

·         Protecting the heart of South Africa’s water supply (uct.ac.za)

·         South Africa needs specific laws to protect strategic water source areas  (engineeringnews.co.za)

Medicine and health

·         Major battles have been won against TB. But the war isn’t over (wits.ac.za)

·         What to do about South Africa's unemployed doctors (bhekisisa.org)


·         Study shows which policies succeed in developing agriculture (farmersweekly.co.za)

4th Industrial Revolution and technology

·         South Africa needs to think differently and embrace 4IR (mg.co.za)

·         Part 1: Will the so-called fourth industrial revolution propel SA forwards? (bizcommunity.com)

·         Part 2: Will the so-called fourth industrial revolution propel SA forwards? (bizcommunity.com)

·         Africa cannot afford to take the back seat in one of the most important pursuits of modern science (wits.ac.za)

·         Government welcomes Microsoft initiative for artificial intelligence in South Africa (dst.gov.za)

·         Govt commits to build cyber defence skills pipeline (itweb.co.za)



·         Mental Health Symposium: Pretoria, 30 May 2019

·         Road to Registration for Mature Engineers, Technologists and Technicians: Midrand, 17 April and Durban 4 June 2019

·         2nd International Annual Congress on Controversies on Cannabis-based Medicines: Barcelona, Spain, 23-24 May 2019

·         1st International Conference on Agroecology Transforming Agriculture and Food Systems in Africa: Nairobi, Kenya, 18-21 June 2019

·         Small Business Indaba: Johannesburg, 26 June 2019

·         Manufacturing Indaba: The role of manufacturing in Africa, Johannesburg, 25-26 June 2019

·         Species on the Move 2019 International Conference Series: Kruger National Park, South Africa, 22-26 July 2019

·         ESSA & ZSSA Combined Biennial Congress: 3-7 July 2017, CSIR ICC, Pretoria

·         International Palaeohistology Meeting 2019: Cape Town, 31 July – 4 August 2019

·         SAAFoST Congress 2019: Johannesburg, 1-4 September 2019

·         13th International Conference on Paleoceanography: Sydney, Australia, 2-6 September 2019

·         XVII International Triple Helix Conference: Cape Town, 9-11 September 2019

·         12th Annual SA Innovation Summit: Cape Town, 11-13 September 2019

·         The International Society for Ecological Modelling Global Conference 2019: Salzburg, Austria, 1-5 October 2019

·         EduTECH Africa 2019: Johannesburg, 9-10 October 2019

·         International Conference on Financial Services: The Fourth Industrial Revolution and Financial Services: Durban, 9-10 October



Members of NSTF in the proSET (Professional Societies) sector are featured in every newsletter. This month the South African Institution of Civil Engineering and South African Sugarcane Research Institute are profiled.

·         The South African Institution of Civil Engineering (SAICE) is the learned society and professional home for about 11 000 civil engineers, technologists and technicians. The organisation strives, among other things, to advance professional knowledge and improve the practice of civil engineering. Its members plan, provide and maintain the infrastructure which supports the everyday life and activities of modern society all over South Africa and are involved in projects around the globe. On the website you will find information about the SAICE units, their publications, training courses, events, awards and more.

·         The South African Sugarcane Research Institute (SASRI) is a world renowned agricultural research institute at the forefront of the sugar industry. Research at SASRI is clustered within four multidisciplinary programmes, namely variety improvement, crop protection, crop performance and management, and systems design and optimisation. An extension service provides the essential link between researchers and sugarcane farmers. SASRI also offers a range of services including fertiliser advice, disease diagnoses and education courses. Read more about their research focus, sugar cane farming and careers in this field on their website.

proSET members receiving funding from the NSTF proSET fund

proSET members can apply annually for funds from proSET for existing worthy projects consistent to the mandate of proSET.  proSET represents professional bodies and learned societies in the NSTF.  The list of members benefitting from the fund during the fifth round are:

·         Geological Society of South Africa

·         The Institute of IT Professionals South Africa

·         Grassland Society of Southern Africa

·         Water Institute of Southern Africa

·         South African Mathematics Foundation

·         South African Academy of Engineering

SET education

·         Student’s 3D-printer plan to change education (uct.ac.za)

·         SA develops coding, robotics curricula for grade R-9 (ngopulse.org)




Universities and higher education

·         Universities must stop relying on software to deal with plagiarism (theconversation.com)

·         Climate change a ‘must’ for MBA curriculum (uct.ac.za)

·         UP vets assist chimp sanctuary in the DRC (up.ac.za)

Science Councils and Statutory Organisations

·         CSIR unveils novel online climate risk profiling and adaptation tool (csir.co.za)

·         In big shake-up, CSIR vows to embrace the private sector (techsentral.co.za)

Medicine and health

·         Dietary reference intakes for sodium and potassium (nationalacademies.org)

·         UP academic makes significant headway to better diagnose multidrug-resistant TB (up.ac.za)

·         Statement on Call for Moratorium on and International Governance Framework for Clinical Uses of Heritable Genome Editing (nationalacademies,org)

·         Tuks performs world’s first middle ear transplant using 3D-printed bones (iol.co.za)

Astronomy and space science

·         The birth of the SKA Observatory – the largest radio telescope in the world (dailymaverick.co.za)

·         University of Pretoria astrophysicist part of team involved in capturing first black hole image (up.ac.za)

·         Another SKA milestone reached with adoption of environmental management plan (dst.gov.za)

·         Joint media statement regarding the BusinessTech article on the Karoo Central Astronomy Advantage Areas regulations (dst.gov.za)

·         South Africa’s KAT has begun prowling the universe (groundup.org)

Environment, climate change and energy


·         Functioning toilet system a must for female safety (wrc.org.za)

·         Clean water and sanitation: Why it matters (ngopulse.org)

Climate change

·         The human devastation of climate change: Why Cyclone Idai should be a wake-up call for us all (dailymaverick.co.za)


·         Why the fight against this weed could pay off handsomely for an energy-strapped SA (bhekikisa.org)

·         Afarak invests in clean energy at its Mogale Alloys plant (engineeringnews.co.za)

·         South Africans can take control of their household electricity usage and save money at the same time - CSIR energy experts (csir.co.za)


·         Local solutions can boost healthier food choices in South Africa (theconversation.com)

·         Research hailed as a “game changer” for pincushion flower industry (sun.ac.za)

·         The Agricultural Research Council first release of the Tradescantia tip beetle as a biological control agent (arc.agric.za)


·         Employment within the ICT sector showing growth (engineeringnews.co.za)

Technology and the 4th Industrial Revolution

·         Meet Baleka, Africa’s first two-legged robot (uct.ac.za)

·         Shaping the future: topology and big data (uct.ac.za)

Science communication

·         Why science matters so much in the era of fake news and fallacies (theconversation.com)

·         March/April issue of SAJS highlights "Women in Science" (sajs.co.za)

·         Truth and Trustworthiness in Science (assaf.co.za)


·         The Department of Science and Technology (DST) calls for nominations for the 2019 South African Women in Science Awards (SAWiSA). Closing date for nominations: Friday, 31 May 2019.

·         Product Development with specialisation in Materials and Manufacturing: Online Master programme at Jönköping University, Sweden opens up for international students. Deadline for application: 2 May 2019. Contact Nils-Eric.Andersson@ju.se

·         Through our competitions, we provide the space to link you... the entrepreneur... with investors, to connect you to the funding you need to scale your business (innovationsummit.co.za)

·         Top intellectual property creators to be recognised (dst.gov.za)

·         Minister to launch new initiative to support grassroots innovators (dst.gov.za)

·         Korea Research Fellowship Program: Postdoctoral researchers can submit their applications and research proposals in all fields of science and technology for a 3-5 year fellowship in this programme. Closing date: May. Contact Anita.Mnisi@dst.gov.za for more information.

·         Call for expression of interest for institutional representatives to attend the first AAAS-TWAS Train the Trainers Course in Science Diplomacy: Trieste, Italy. Deadline: 30 April 2019. Contact sciencediplomacy@twas.org for information.




·         Geneticist Sydney Brenner, who made tiny worm a scientific legend, dies (nature.com)

·         Twenty top young scientists selected for prestigious Lindau (assaf.co.za)

·         World acclaim for South African ‘wonder women’ scientists (dailymaverick.co.za)

·         Polymer scientist receives international lifetime achievement award (sun.ac.za)

·         FAIMER Fellowship for UKZN Academic (ukzn.ac.za)

·         New Editor for SAJS



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 Friday, 3 May 2019 14:21

SAIIE Newsletter: April 2019

Posted by Lynette Pieterse on Tuesday, 16 April 2019 15:46

Please find attached the SAIIE April 2019 Newsletter.


SAIIE Newsletter_Vol 3_ April 2019_Final.pdf 1.7M 16 Apr 19 15:46

SAIIE Newsletter: March 2019

Posted by Lynette Pieterse on Tuesday, 16 April 2019 15:45

Please find attached the SAIIE March 2019 Newsletter.


SAIIE Newsletter_Vol 2_ March. 2019_final.pdf 1.1M 16 Apr 19 15:45

Media Release: Mining the Fourth Industrial Revolution

Posted by Lynette Pieterse on Friday, 5 April 2019 17:22


Mining the Fourth Industrial Revolution

Chemical elements for South Africa’s future – Rare elements for new technologies
#elements4tech   #IYPT_za   #4IRsciZA   #IYPT2019

There is a lot of controversy around mining. At the same time, people use products and materials from mines just to live… from housing to technology. This tension ramps up further when we face the near future. As we look to reduce carbon output and environmental impact, we focus on green energy sources and the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR). The latter needs minerals from the earth to operate. It seems we have much to investigate.


This is the International Year of the Periodic Table of Chemical Elements 2019 (#IYPT2019) as declared by the United Nations.

The National Science and Technology Forum (NSTF) held an NSTF Discussion Forum on ‘Chemical elements for South Africa’s future’ (#elements4tech #IYPT_za) from 18-19 March 2019. The first day focused on ‘Rare elements for new technologies’. The event was held in partnership with the South African National Convention Bureau (SANCB), SA Tourism.

What are rare earth elements?

Rare earth elements (REE) are elements on the periodic table that range from the atomic numbers 57 to 71.


The NSTF provides neutral collaborative platforms where issues and sectors meet

·         One of the National Science and Technology Forum (NSTF) functions is to hold discussion forums, bringing the private and public sector together to address important issues and engage with government policy.

·         Feedback from these discussion forums is given to stakeholders.

·         Recommendations are put forward to government as part of the SET community’s lobbying efforts.



The REE are the 15 lanthanide series elements, plus yttrium. Scandium is found in most REE deposits and is sometimes classified as a REE. (Source: Geology.com)
REE are called ‘rare’ not because of scarcity. Dr Leon Kruger, Manager of the Hydrometallurgy Division: Mintek, explains that REE are found spread across the globe but in relatively low concentrations. Further to that, REEs are very difficult to separate from each other when processing. (Dr Kruger presented on ‘REE processing – A South African perspective’.)
The REE are also all metals, and are often referred to as ‘rare earth metals’.

REE and the Fourth Industrial Revolution

The Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) moves beyond the digital sphere. It’s defined in the Department of Science and Technology’s White Paper on Science, Technology and Innovation as technological developments that blur the lines between the physical, digital, and biological spheres.
Our current technologies are already the basis for 4IR technologies. 4IR is not a break from the past but an evolution – and mined elements are critical to both existing and new technologies.
Take the cell phone. There are about 40 elements in phones that are mined, says Mr Sietse van der Woude, Senior Executive: Modernisation and Safety, Minerals Council South Africa. “When you look at the periodic table, it’s easier to say what’s not relevant to 4IR because so many are relevant.” Mr van der Woude spoke on ‘Challenges in Mining for the Fourth Industrial Revolution’.
Mr van der Woude says that for green energy technology, even more elements are needed. As the demand for green technologies rises, so will the demand for rare metals. Other examples for REE uses include: batteries, glass, fuel cells, hybrid and electric vehicles, wind turbines, and air conditioning. Is 4IR even possible without mining?

South Africa’s mineral resources

Beyond REE, South Africa’s mineral resources for 4IR rank within top 10 in the world (except for iron ore), notes Mr van der Woude.
Dr Annelize Botes, Principal Researcher: Materials Science and Manufacturing, Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), explains that titanium is considered a ‘rare’ metal because it’s a difficult metal to produce. She presented in her own capacity on ‘Rare Metals in New Technologies’. Titanium is used in many industries including aerospace, automotive, and medical. The CSIR hosts the Titanium Centre of Competence.
Dr Botes notes that rare metals are understood as part of something – such as a cell phone. They also form part of a larger ecosystem: “Materials (including metals) are the pillar upon which most manufacturing is built…” She advocates more work with design engineers who predominantly use steel when so many other materials are available.
REE are used in batteries and Dr Mesfin Kebede focused on lithium ion batteries (LIBs). Dr Kebede is a Principal Researcher: Energy Centre, CSIR. He spoke on ‘The Transition Metals (Manganese, Titanium, etc) for Energy Storage Application’. There is a high availability of these minerals in South Africa. LIBs are used in the automotive industry (consider electric vehicles) and for renewable battery storage, among other things.

Potential futures of mining for 4IR

Mr van der Woude notes that mining’s future lies in new deposits of ‘exotics’ (such as REE where the global demand is expected to rise) and finding new uses for general mining materials. Other areas include:

·         The circular economy with the 3Rs: recover, recycle and reuse

·         Subsea mining

·         Mining of asteroids

It is also of use to look at the report commissioned by the German Mineral Resources Agency at the Federal Institute for Geosciences and Natural Resources, Berlin. Dr Botes says that with Germany depending on metal imports, they examined key and emerging technologies (across industries) and the potential demand for associated raw materials. This assists with estimating long-term price and supply risks. Dr Botes says this can be used as a guideline for South Africa. (See slide 25.)

Impact of 4IR on the mining industry

Accelerated digitalisation heralds exciting changes in mining. Mr van der Woude sees a move to where a great number of activities are driven from inside an office. According to Deloitte, future mining technologies include:

·         Digital capturing of information

·         Autonomous equipment such as driverless trucks

·         Internet of Things (IoT) wearables for capturing real-time data

·         Drones (which help with surveying in all types of temperatures)

·         Diverse mobile workforce with integrated remote operations

·         A digital mine nerve centre with controlled, safe and healthy conditions and data-driven insights for improved planning control and decision support


Dr Botes says there are also new manufacturing technologies. These include: additive manufacturing, collaborative robots (robots designed to work alongside humans), and smart manufacturing (to improve productivity and efficiency).

New frontiers – a centralised refinery for South Africa?

Dr Kruger says that, currently, China possesses 40% of global REE reserves and produces over 80% of the global REE. China’s dominance has an overriding impact on prices, for example, just by changing export quotas.
Because of this, Dr Kruger says that the world is looking for alternative sources of supply. Currently there are two non-Chinese world-class REE refineries: Lynas and Molycorp. Dr Kruger believes there is a gap for South Africa. The real value of REEs lies in physically separating these elements from each other. REEs are found in mixed deposits and not individually and concentrated like gold ore. The REE deposits typically include radioactive elements.
He proposes a centralised refinery where South Africa takes deposits from other countries for processing. (South Africa does not have enough deposits to sustain the refinery and to make it globally competitive.) He says that South Africa has the ability to transport, dispose and store radioactive waste. Not every country can do this. Further to this, South Africa has the expertise as Mintek has been conducting commercial work and R&D on every REE project on the globe (except China).

Governance around mining

Mr Sahlulele Luzipo, then-Chair of the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee (PPC) on Mineral Resources, presented on ‘Benefits to the economy vs harm to communities and environment? Stimulating beneficiation?’. The PPC role is to lead public oversight of the Minister of Mineral Resources and the Department. This looks at whether laws are being implemented and budget spent responsibly.
Mining is seen as the cornerstone of the economy of South Africa, contributing R400-billion. South Africa needs to make the most of its mineral resources – for the benefit of all South Africans.
There is also a need to look at the harm around mining regarding communities and the environment. Mr Luzipo says that South Africa needs a clear proactive strategy and risk qualifications on mine closures. We should not be dealing with disasters as they happen.
One of the issues is that mines often change hands at different phases and this leads to a lack of responsibility. Furthermore, there should be increased legislation or enforcement around management and process (as has been done with diamonds).
The above links to illegal mining and its lack of safety and impact on ground stability. Illegal mining and the ‘zamazamas’ (illegal miners) have grown in criminality, as well as supporting industries such as food trucks. This is just one of the issues showing the need for collaboration between government entities. For example, beyond the Department of Mineral Resources (DMR), the Department of Water and Sanitation and police should be involved.
Mining is an extraction industry. This means it’s impossible to bring back to the soil exactly what was taken out. However, says Mr Luzipo, we need to see what can work with the soil. Mines range from very neglected to those running effectively – with ongoing rehabilitation and a mining area returned to productive agriculture.
He says, in his experience, Social and Labour Plans are not implemented. This results in appalling conditions where communities are left in poverty and there has been no environmental rehabilitation. According to the South African Human Rights Commission, neither the environmental nor the community/public benefit aspects of the laws that apply to mines are being effectively enforced by government.
Mr Luzipo says that the system around mining rights and permits could be redesigned – where businesses with the best motivations around community beneficiaries and socio-economic development plans are given the rights.
South Africa also needs to consider the limits to parliamentary oversight. There is limited manpower and capacity, as well as limited time assigned to meetings. Furthermore, the parliament budget is determined by the institutions that are monitored ie the DMR.
Speakers can be contacted through the spokesperson, Ms Jansie NiehausVideo clips with the full presentations can be found on the NSTF website.


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

The science bursaries page http://www.nstf.org.za/bursary/ provides information on bursaries and bursary providers for science, engineering and related studies.


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



Media Release: Finding a path through the maze – the Fourth Industrial Revolution

Posted by Lynette Pieterse on Monday, 25 February 2019 17:50

Finding a path through the maze – the Fourth Industrial Revolution

Implications of the 4th Industrial Revolution for SET, industry, society and education #4IRsciZA

The Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) feels like the ghost in the machine. We have a sense about it. We know it’s coming or may already be here. It seems to be all around us. However, there isn’t a common understanding of what 4IR actually means.

The National Science and Technology Forum (NSTF) held an NSTF Discussion Forum on ‘Implications of the 4th Industrial Revolution for SET, industry, society and education’. The event was held in Cape Town from 11-13 September 2018. It ran alongside the Innovation Summit. The aim was to unpack some of the issues around 4IR, with reference to science, engineering, technology (SET) and innovation.

So what is 4IR?

There are many names and definitions for the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR). 4IR is the naming convention used for this article as it’s a widely-communicated definition from the World Economic Forum (WEF).

WEF positions the First Industrial Revolution to be that of mechanisation and steam and water power. The Second Industrial Revolution looks at mass production, division of labour, assembly lines, and electricity. The third is seen as electronics, ICT, and automated production.

The NSTF provides neutral collaborative platforms where issues and sectors meet
  • One of the National Science and Technology Forum (NSTF) functions is to hold discussion forums, bringing the private and public sector together to address important issues and engage with government policy.

  • Feedback from these discussion forums is given to stakeholders. 

  • Recommendations are put forward to government as part of the SET community’s lobbying efforts.


                                               Source: World Economic Forum

The Fourth Industrial Revolution is about the emergence of cyber-physical systems, network and artificial intelligence (AI). Cyber-physical systems involve new ways of embedding technology within larger societies, communities, and even in the human body.
Presenting at the NSTF Discussion Forum, Garth Williams says the dominant narrative is the convergence of technologies and convergence of the physical, digital and biological space. Williams is a Research Specialist: Intelligence at the Technology Innovation Agency (TIA), who previously worked at the Department of Science and Technology (DST). He presented in his own capacity. 
There is debate around whether what is happening is, actually, the Fourth Industrial Revolution. There are numerous frameworks available, ranging from this being an extension of the Third Industrial Revolution to Society 5.0. However, we need a name relevant to South Africa.

Is it the name or the aim?

Williams says focusing on what a country wants to achieve is more important than emphasising the name. Across the world, aims and objectives range from improving competitiveness and developing 4.0 technologies to enhancing digital start-ups and ecosystems.

Let’s consider South Africa’s objectives. Williams says this is an emergent process with various research and policies, such as the National development Plan (NDP), outlining the challenges. An overarching NDP aim is to eliminate poverty and reduce inequality while advancing the economy and increasing South Africa’s competitiveness.
Williams’ message is ‘Don’t use technology just for technology’s sake’. It needs to be part of a larger context.

Looking at the 4IR technologies

There are numerous technologies associated with 4IR, and they come with a lot of jargon. Following are some of the technologies:
  • Autonomous robots and vehicles

  • The Internet of Things (IoT)

  • Cyber security, fraud detection, and authentication

  • Additive manufacturing (3D printing)

  • Big Data and advanced analytics

  • Augmented reality, virtual reality, and wearables

  • System integration

  • Edge and cloud computing

  • Smart mobile devices

  • Artificial intelligence (AI)

  • Blockchain technologies (which is part of how bitcoin works)

  • Advanced human-machine interfaces

  • High bandwidth networks

  • Smart and internet-worked sensors

Impact on economic development

Williams notes that sustainable economic growth relies on productivity growth which is driven by technological change. Furthermore, “key breakthroughs… have underpinned surges in society and the economy”. 
For South Africa to catch up and become truly competitive, there are various factors that need to be considered:

  • We need to take the opportunities available in 4IR that are appropriate for South Africa. Williams specifically notes focusing on indigenous challenges and opportunities. Part of this is using 4IR technologies to create industries for processing raw materials (as opposed to sending raw materials out and buying the manufactured products back).  Dr Fisseha Mekuria, Chief Research Scientist from the Council for Scientific and Industrial (CSIR) Meraka ICT Institute, says that connectivity (to the internet) is critical for making the most of opportunities. However, it needs to be affordable to ensure social inclusion for all South Africans.

  • South Africa needs to do its own R&D on technologies and also manage (assimilate and adapt) inbound technologies. An example of this is some of the work done in scientific computing at the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) Africa. NSTF Discussion Forum presenter, Mr Simon Ratcliffe, is the Technical Lead for Scientific Computing at the SKA. He explains that at various times they had to build their own hardware from scratch or re-engineer. Data storage was developed and manufactured locally, showing how SKA can seed other industries. The homegrown solutions meant not having to use expensive overseas resources nor paying for expensive software licences. Mr Ratcliffe says that the democratisation of tools (ie the access to open source tools) was a key enabling factor.

  • Part of 4IR is building people’s capabilities and skills around technology. Dr Tshiamo Motshegwa notes that we need to think about skills that make us relevant in the future. (He is from the Computer Science faculty, University of Botswana. He also represents the Southern African Development Community – SADC – Cyber Infrastructure Expert Working Group.) The 4IR technologies noted above are a guide to some of the future skills needed.

Digital transformation and disruptive technologies

Dr Motshegwa explained that digital transformation is about the outcomes achieved when entities, such as businesses, fully leverage the changes and opportunities that digital technologies bring.

Digital disruption refers to the changes that occur when new digital technologies and business models impact an entity’s value proposition (offering), market position, and competitiveness. Examples include Uber shaking up the taxi industry and Airbnb changing the hotel industry. Other industries and sectors that have been significantly changed by 4IR technologies are: bookstores, print advertising, music, and photography.
These definitions of digital transformation and disruption are based on those from the Learning Experience, Cisco Networking Academy. Note that other definitions and meanings also exist.

Reacting to 4IR

There is a lot of anxiety around 4IR. One example is ‘technology singularity’. This represents the time when machines and AI are so advanced, they surpass humans as the smartest and most capable beings on Earth. For many people, there is a more immediate concern – all signs point to 4IR technologies driving job losses as ‘machines’ take over jobs. Current thinking envisages rote and routine jobs as being the most vulnerable.

There will most probably be job losses, especially in the low-skilled sectors, says Prof Babu Paul. He is the Director, Institute for Intelligent Systems, University of Johannesburg. Further to that job creation will probably not match job losses, plus the nature of current jobs will evolve. This means education becomes critical, as does reskilling and upskilling. A national dialogue is needed.

Williams says we have a choice, collectively and individually. It isn’t an ‘either/or’ ie being led by technology versus society defining the way. He sees society and technology as co-evolving, where technology is embedded in society. South Africans need to shape their own future, including taking measures to prevent widening inequality and deepening poverty.

South Africa and 4IR

South Africa has plans around 4IR. Williams says these include a government-wide 4IR Country Strategy and Action Plan. It will be led by the Department of Telecommunications and Postal Services (DTPS) and supported by DST and the Department of Trade and Industry (the dti). The group will report to The Presidency. It is looking at various thematic areas:
  • Digital society, ICT policy, and regulatory and legislative reforms

  • Innovation, research, and development

  • Economic policy and inclusive growth

  • Industrial restructuring and trade

  • Labour market restructuring

  • Education and skills development

  • Transforming government and service delivery

Science, technology and innovation initiatives will be led by the DST, informing the national strategy and aligned with DST strategies, policies and plans. The department will be supported by TIA, Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC), National Advisory Council on Innovation (NACI), and CSIR.
Ms Nontombi Marule-Director: Innovation and Technology Policy, the dti, notes the regulatory implications for 4IR need to be managed. This is not a simple matter due to the fast-changing pace of technology advances, technology disruption, and the extensive impact on systems. She says that a paradigm shift is needed, such as policy and regulation that is futuristic and agile.
Dr Mekuria advocates strongly for technology test beds as part of evidence-based research to inform decision making. Test beds are “crucial platforms to perform a controlled testing of relevant 4IR use cases before introduction commercially”.

Implications of 4IR for industry

NSTF Discussion Forum presenter, Dr Nimrod Zalk from the dti, says that there have been no cases of successful catch-up by developing countries with advanced economies without industrialisation. Furthermore, successful industrialisation has to have an industrial policy. Countries best placed to benefit from 4IR are those with an established industrial base.
Dr Zalk sees 4IR, specifically technological change, as “often more evolution than revolution”. Various 4IR technologies aren’t that new (for example, robotics and additive manufacturing). It has just taken a long time for the technology to spread. He suggests integrating 4IR considerations into organisational, sector, and industrial strategies rather than ‘dropping everything’ for the 4IR.
In terms of industry opportunities around 4IR, Dr Zalk provides the automotive-mining nexus as an example. With the global shift to electric vehicles, there is a reduced need for fossil fuels. However, this shift means an increased demand for platinum group metals (PGM) minerals. He says that South Africa needs to be in at the start with developing new sources of demand for PGMs.

Collaboration and partnerships – including a regional perspective

For South Africa, Williams notes that the overriding aim is to tackle big societal problems such as high youth unemployment and water scarcity. This is a multi-disciplinary endeavour and that means partnerships. The issues also straddle the mandates of various government departments. This means more collaboration between traditionally-siloed government departments.

We need collaboration and integration at all levels so we can all benefit. This is the message from SADC’s Dr Motshegwa. To move forward with regional 4IR strategies, we need alignment with the various regional and national policies. We need to invest in supporting infrastructure and human capital development and skills for regional collaboration.

The importance of Big Data

The general definition of Big Data describes large volumes of structured and unstructured data that can be mined for information. How we use this data (analysis and interpretation) can reveal patterns and trends, and more. Dr Motshegwa says we need to share data, and that includes data from government departments.
Dr Motshegwa notes the emerging policy consensus of FAIR data – findable, accessible, interoperable, and reusable. He explains that FAIR data is extremely important within the SET and innovation environment. Considering that research data is publicly funded it should automatically be a public asset. Open research data also provides the evidence, allowing for reproducibility and self-correction while reducing replication.
Open data practices have transformed certain areas of research, such as genomics and astronomy. Furthermore, research data often have considerable potential for reuse and reinterpretation. All this fosters innovation and accelerates scientific discovery.

How does the smart city fit into all of this?

According to Prof Babu Paul, the Smart City uses smart technology and Big Data, for example, to improve quality and performance in services (energy, transportation and utilities). This can reduce resource consumption, waste, and overall costs. Prof Paul is the Director, Institute for Intelligent Systems, University of Johannesburg.
Components of a smart city include: smart manufacturing, smart government, WiFi, digital citizens, open data, smart agriculture, smart buildings, smart energy grids, smart waste management and other utilities, and smart transport.
Examples of potential smart city job titles of the future are: urban informatics analyst, energy efficiency engineer, autonomous transport technician, virtual reality technician, and cybersecurity officer.

Finding clarity

There was much discussion around the presentations. Following are some of the points raised:
  • There needs to be a common understanding, definition, and standards for 4IR – specific to the South African context. Information needs to be clear and practical and cover the entire ecosystem. There should also be clear communication about the limitations, potential harm, and ethics with the various 4IR issues.

  • The process of coordination and collaboration for 4IR needs to be made clear to all. Individuals and entities should be able to ‘plug into’ the larger coordinated structure. The SET community need specific goals and actions around 4IR. These should include real-life examples rather than conceptual terminology.  

Speakers can be contacted through the spokesperson, Ms Jansie Niehaus.
Video clips with the full presentations can be found on the NSTF website.

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

The science bursaries page http://www.nstf.org.za/bursary/ provides information on bursaries and bursary providers for science, engineering and related studies.

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
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Last updated Monday, 25 February 2019 15:50

SAIIE Newsletter: February 2019

Posted by Lynette Pieterse on Tuesday, 12 February 2019 11:27

Please find attached the SAIIE February 2019 Newsletter. 


SAIIE Newsletter_Vol 1_ Febr. 2019_Final.pdf 1.0M 12 Feb 19 11:27

SAIIE Newsletter: December 2018

Posted by Lynette Pieterse on Wednesday, 30 January 2019 12:58

Please find attached the SAIIE December 2018 Newsletter. 


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SAIIE Newsletter: November 2018

Posted by Lynette Pieterse on Wednesday, 30 January 2019 12:57

Please find attached the SAIIE November 2018 Newsletter. 


SAIIE Newsletter_Vol 10_ Nov 2018_final.pdf 1.2M 30 Jan 19 12:57

SAIIE Newsletter: October 2018

Posted by Lynette Pieterse on Wednesday, 30 January 2019 12:56

Please find attached the SAIIE October 2018 Newsletter. 


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