South Africa:

26-29 June 2017

Pelly Malebe

Led By: Pelly Malebe

South Africa seeks to boost socio-economic development through research and innovation. To achieve its goals, the Department of Science and Technology provides leadership, an enabling environment and resources for science, technology and innovation. South Africa is accomplishing groundbreaking science and enhancing the well-being of all South Africans through various programmes including: Technology Innovation; International Cooperation and Resources; Research Development and Support; and Socio-economic Innovation Partnerships. The Square Kilometre Array (SKA) Project is an international enterprise to build the largest and most sensitive radio telescope in the world, and will be located in Africa and Australia. The SKA has huge potential to contribute to and raise the profile of science, technology and innovation in Africa. The SKA African partner countries include Botswana, Ghana, Kenya, Madagascar, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia and Zambia.

Research and Development is enabled in the following strategic and emerging focus areas: space science, energy, biotechnology, nanotechnology, robotics, photonics and indigenous knowledge systems. The realisation of commercial products is promoted through intellectual property management, technology transfer and technology commercialization.

NEF Ambassador
Pelly Malebe, the NEF ambassador of South Africa is a PhD candidate at the University of Pretoria in her home country. She is the recipient of the Department of Science and Technology: Women in Science Award doctoral fellowship which rewards excellence among women scientists and researchers.

Overview ASW South Africa Activities:

Event 1. Panel Discussion: Building South Africa’s Knowledge Economy 

Date: 26 June 2017
Time: 12:00-15:00
Venue: Department of Science and Technology Bunga Auditorium (CSIR Campus), Pretoria

There is a shift in the world’s economically advanced countries away from traditional manufacturing and service industries towards economies driven by knowledge and intellectual capital. South Africa’s science and technology related policies aim to drive South Africa’s transformation to a knowledge-based economy.

Panellists will discuss the following:

  • What does the knowledge economy mean for South Africa and the African continent?
  • What are some of the growing trends in South Africa and Africa that are driving economic growth? Will South Africa become a precision medicine hub for example?
  • A knowledge economy requires a growing pool of scientific talent? How is South Africa fairing in this regard? What can be improved?

The session will be followed by an interactive question and answer period as well as lunch.


Event 2. Science and Cocktails with Prof Nox Makunga

Date: 27 June 2017
Time: 8 p.m. (Doors open 6:30 p.m.)
Venue: The Orbit, Braamfontein, Johannesburg 

What are medicinal plants? Why do they work? Can modern scientific methods and indigenous knowledge work together in identifying and using them? What is the path from a medicinal plant to a commercially available compound? And how can we protect South Africa’s botanical heritage from over-exploitation and ensure its conservation? Prof. Nox Makunga will explain, through several examples, how her group at the University of Stellenbosch applies high-end functional genomics technologies to better understand the molecular mechanisms governing the synthesis of secondary compounds in medicinal plants. She will argue that this approach adds value to local flora which are intimately linked with traditional plant knowledge, but will also discuss the challenges ahead, as these technologies have not yet been broadly applied to non-model species with complex genomes.

Learn more:

Event 2. NEF Fun Side of Science

Date: 29 June 2017
Time: 9:00-15:00
Venue: Makgwale High School, Limpopo

The NEF Fun Side of Science event will ignite and nurture our knowledge economy by encouraging and instilling confidence in our young learners. They hold the key to our future and in order for them to reach their full potential they need to be exposed to the opportunities.

  • 9:00 – 9:30 Opening Ceremony MC Lebo Nkadimeng (Governance Manager at AngloGold Ashanti)
  • 9:30 – 10:00 Welcoming Makgwale High School Principal
  • 10:00 – 10:30 Address by NEF ambassador Pelly Malebe (PhD candidate & daughter of the Limpopo soil)
  • 10:30 – 11:00 Address by Kutlwanong Centre for Maths Science and Technology founder Tumelo Mabitsela
  • 11:00 – 12:30 Lunch and display of Science Kits
  • 12:30- 13:00 Entertainment
  • 13:00 – 13:30 Motivational Talk by Researcher at the South African Council for Scientific and Industrial Research Dr Lindokuhle Ndlandla
  • 13:30-14:00 Closing Motivational Talk by Kutlwanong Student
  • 14:00 – 14:30 Awards Handed-Out to top achievers in science and maths as well as most improved students.
  • 14:30 – 15:00 Entertainment: Fashion Show by local young designer
  • 15:00 – 15:30 photo session & media interviews

Local Supporters: