Science and technology

first_imgSouth Africa has a respected and world-class science and technology community that, over many decades, has pioneered globally significant and successful new ideas, techniques and technologies.These include the complex techniques to produce fuels and useful chemicals from raw coal, pioneering steel production, the extreme engineering and chemistry required to extract minerals from increasingly miserly reefs of the deepest mines in the world, medical expertise that not only saw the country pioneering the world’s first heart transplant, but makes South Africa-trained doctors in demand – and working – all over the world, and in recent years, a thriving space science industry.The government body responsible for the sector is the Department of Science and Technology (DST). Its budget over the Medium Term Expenditure Framework is R16.6-billion, of which R4.96-billion has been allocated to the 2012/13 financial year.Of this smaller amount, R2.6-billion or 53% is allocated to public entities (Africa Institute of South Africa R33-million, the Academy of Science for South Africa R13-million, Council for Scientific and Industrial Research R737-million, the Human Sciences Research Council R214-million, the National Research Foundation R1.07-million, National Space Agency R95-million and TIA R455 million).Of the remainder R1.94-billion is allocated to the DST-directed projects (implemented by institutions that perform research and development) and R397-million to the running costs of the department.The allocations to DST public entities rise from R2.6-billion to R2.9-billion between 2012/13 and 2014/15 at an annual average growth rate of 5%.Research and developmentSouth Africa’s Research and Development Strategy, launched in 2002, aims to enhance the National System of Innovation, a cluster of interacting public and private organisations focused on nurturing and developing science and technology in South Africa, with the specific aim of accelerating economic growth.A survey released in October 2010 by the Human Sciences Research Council reveals that the gross domestic expenditure on research and development (R&D) was R21-billion, a nominal increase of R2.4-billion from the R18.6-billion recorded for 2007/08. These are the latest available figures.The 2008/09 expenditure represents a 12.9% nominal increase, although it fell a little behind the increase in the nominal GDP of 13.2% over the corresponding period. As a consequence, R&D expenditure, expressed as a percentage of GDP, dropped slightly from 0.93% in 2007/08 to 0.92% in 2008/09.The DST constantly develops strategies to ensure South Africa in new areas of knowledge and technology. Strategies to develop nanotechnology, astronomy indigenous knowledge, and intellectual property, have been developed, derived from publicly funded research.BiotechnologySouth Africa’s National Biotechnology Strategy (NBS) was launched in 2001 to stimulate the growth of a local biotech industry, following similar successful programmes in other developing countries, such as Cuba, Brazil and China.Its initiatives include biotechnology regional innovation centres (Brics), created to act as instruments for the implementation of the NBS. The country’s four Brics are:BioPADCape Biotech TrustLIFElabPlant Biotechnology Innovation Centre (PlantBio)The Brics focus on a number of different biotech disciplines, including human and animal health, biopharmaceuticals, industrial bioprocessing, mining biotechnology, bioinformatics and plant biotechnology.One of the challenges facing the South African biotechnology sector is the public’s suspicion and lack of understanding and knowledge of the technology’s benefits. For this reason the NBS initiated the Public Understanding of Biotechnology programme, which provides South Africans with information to participate meaningfully in debates about biotechnology, and to make informed decisions.NanotechnologySouth Africa’s National Nanotechnology Strategy, launched in April 2006, focuses on the essential building blocks of nanoscience: synthesis, characterisation and fabrication. The strategy aims to increase the number of nanotechnology characterisation centres in South Africa, with an investment of R170-million over three years – R15-million in 2005/06, R30-million in 2006/2007, and R120-million in 2007/2008.Known as “the technology of the very small” – about 1/80 000 of the diameter of a human hair – nanotechnology is made up of a wide range of technologies, techniques and multidisciplinary research efforts for application in a range of cross-cutting industries and activities. These include aerospace, manufacturing and automotive industries; energy conversion, storage and distribution; the hydrogen economy; chemicals; electronics and information processing; as well as biotechnology and medicines.South African industry and researchers have been key players in nanotechnology and the practical application of nanoscience for a number of years. One example is Sasol’s chemical processing by catalysis.The strategy recognises that it is essential for South African scientists to develop their ability to derive more benefits from new generations of nanotechnology-based products emerging in the world today. It aims to position the country as a global player in this emerging discipline, and seeks to strengthen the integrated development focus of the government.The strategy’s main objectives are to:support long-term nanoscience research that will lead to a fundamental understanding of the design, synthesis, characterisation, modelling and fabrication of nanomaterialsupport the creation of new and novel devices for application in various areasdevelop the required HR and supporting infrastructurestimulate new developments in technology missions such, as material for advanced manufacturing, nanobiomaterial for biotechnology, precious metal-based nanoparticles for resource-based industries, and advanced material for information and communications technologiesSpace scienceNational Space AgencyThe National Space Agency (Sansa) was formed in December 2009 by the National Space Agency Act of 2008 (PDF).It’s described as the country’s government body for the promotion and use of space. It also fosters cooperation in space-related activities and research in space science, seeks to advance scientific engineering through human capital, and supports the creation of an environment conducive to the industrial development of space technologies within the framework of the national government.It became operational in April 2011.Sansa’s focus areas are:Earth observationSpace engineeringSpace operationsSpace scienceHuman capital developmentPublic engagementSquare Kilometre ArrayIn mid-2012 South Africa was named one of the two co-hosts of the Square Kilometre Array (SKA0, sharing the project with Australia.The SKA will be the world’s largest radio telescope when complete. The Southern African portion will be centred in the Karoo in an area that is protected by law from developments that could cause radio interference.South Africa will host the greater part – about 70% – of the instrument, while the remainder will be built in Australia.The SKA will have five key research areas:Investigating galaxy evolution, cosmology and dark energyStrong-field tests of gravity using pulsars and black holesInvestigating the origin and evolution of cosmic magnetismThe cradle of life searching for life and planetsProbing the dark ages – the first black holes and starslast_img read more

Federal IT: Top Priorities are Reduced Costs and Improved Security

first_imgCisco’s recently released their 2013 annual report on the state of “connected government”.Cisco’s vision of Connected Government is one where “authorized information flows freely across agency, partner, and public boundaries, services reach constituents when and where they are needed, and operating expenditures stay at a minimum. Overall, connected governments can proactively serve their constituents, while improving information confidentiality, agency integrity, and budget control.”Budget control is certainly top-of-mind for many agencies. In the on-going climate of government shutdown and budget sequestration, federal IT departments are under pressure to keep their spending down. This mentality of fiscal responsibility had a strong influence on their priorities for the coming year. The Cisco report found that reducing costs is the top federal IT goal.The top five federal IT goals for FY2014 are: 28 percent. Reduce IT costs22 percent. Improve security19 percent. Boost efficiency19 percent. Improve service delivery9 percent. Enhance mobility And the top areas where federal IT is seeing spending increases in FY2014 are:CybersecurityCloudNetworkingVideo ConferencingRanking lower in the list of spending areas are Big Data and Collaboration, two areas that are seeing significant spending by IT departments outside of government.last_img read more

Dame Helen Mirren wins Glamour Icon award

first_imgDame Helen Mirren won the Icon award at the annual Glamour Women of the Year Awards in London on Tuesday night (03.06.14).The Oscar-winning actress, 68, was thrilled to be presented with the prize by Ryan Reynolds, with whom she is currently filming ‘The Woman In Gold,’ and used her moment on stage to urge young stars not to be afraid of getting older.She said: “There are a lot of really young women here who are very beautiful, incredibly talented, and I salute you and respect you all. I’m so proud to be a member of your sex.”Your 40s are good. Your 50s are great. Your 60s are fab. And 70 is f**king awesome. I’m not quite there yet, but almost.”Dame Helen Mirren won the Icon award at the annual Glamour Women of the Year Awards in London.Davina McCall was named Glamour Hero for her gruelling 500-mile cycle, swim and running journey from Edinburgh to London in February, which raised 1 million pounds for Sports Relief, and ‘Orange Is The New Black’ actress Taylor Schilling, 29, won the Editor’s Special Award.Other big winners included ‘Grace of Monaco’ actress Nicole Kidman, who won the Outstanding Contribution award, and Taylor Swift, who was awarded Best International Solo Artist, but neither of them were able to attend the glittering ceremony.Supermodel Naomi Campbell, Little Mix, singer Paloma Faith, presenter Emma Willis, ‘Modern Family’ star Sarah Hyland and ‘Godzilla’ actress Sally Hawkins also picked up prizes.’The Hunger Games’ star Sam Claflin – who plays Finnick Odair in the franchise – was named the Man of the Year at the ceremony, which was presented by Graham Norton in London’s Berkeley Square Gardens.advertisementlast_img read more