Daily Archives: March 6, 2019

Career expo inspires learners to embrace the new digital age

The Department of Science and Technology hosted thousands of high school learners from around Rustenburg on Friday, 1 March, at a science, technology. engineering and mathematics (STEM) career expo.

The exhibition was held at the Ben Marais Hall and featured over 30 interactive exhibits highlighting various projects in the national system of innovation. The learners had an opportunity to participate in science demonstrations and talk to researchers.

The DST regularly hosts such events to inform learners of the various STEM career paths available and to assist them in deciding what courses to take after school.

The venue teemed with curious learners, who engaged exhibitors about science fields such as radio astronomy, forensic science and tissue engineering.

Exhibitors from organisations such as the South African Radio Astronomy Observatory, the South African Weather Service, the SA Police Service, the South African Agency for Science and Technology Advancement, the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, and the Tshwane University of Technology’s Centre for Tissue Engineering were kept on their toes as Grade 12 leaners bombarded them with queries.

The Minister of Science and Technology, Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane, encouraged to learners to engage exhibitors and to study subjects that they were passionate about.

The Minister quizzed learners about DST-funded projects in space science and radio astronomy. A handful of learners knew about the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) megascience project in the Northern Cape. The Minister and other senior officials were impressed by a young learner who explained the SKA project to the audience.

Meanwhile the Minister herself described what the Department was doing in the nanosatellite sphere.

“South Africa has a problem with fires, which destroy property, and nanosatellites such as ZACUBE provide early warnings of wildfires so that disaster management teams can respond before the fire causes too much damage,” said the Minister.

The Minister also urged learners to read about the Fourth Industrial Revolution (FIR), which would be driven by the youth. “South Africa needs critical skills in data science and machine learning, so that computer programmes and algorithms can be used to solve problems.”

The Mayor of Rustenburg Local Municipality, Mpho Khunou, echoed the Minister’s sentiments and advised young people to prepare for the FIR as South Africa needed young people to be at the forefront of the new digital age.

“The FIR represents entirely new ways in which technology becomes embedded within societies,” said the Mayor, going on to explain that South Africa needed scientists to thrive and respond to new ways of doing things.

Galaletsang Bantsijang of Sunrise View Secondary School said she felt privileged to have been part of the event and was looking forward to pursuing a medical engineering degree at the University of the Witwatersrand next year.

Another inspired learner, 18-year-old Seleke Gadihele from Boitekong Secondary School, planned to give back to her community by becoming a maths and life sciences teacher. The energetic learner was excited to receive information about the Funza Lushaka bursary programme and hopeful that she would be able to study at the University of Pretoria.

The Funza Lushaka programme promotes teaching as a profession and enables eligible students to complete teaching qualifications in national priority subjects. After graduation, bursaries recipients are required to teach at a public school for the same number of years for which they received the bursary.

Source: Department: Science and Technology

Innovation interventions slow in translating into Socio-Economic Benefits

The Chief Director of Innovation and Technology at the Department of Trade and Industry (the dti), Ms Nonkululeko Shinga says that the reviews indicate that innovation has not been translated into socio-economic benefits and the government funding instruments are inaccessible to the innovators in rural and township communities. Shinga said this during the opening of the two-day Grassroots Innovation Workshop which took place in Limpopo.

It is as a direct response to this imbalance that we have resolved to roll-out this series of Grassroots Innovation Workshops to counter this and to address issues of knowledge production, which are limited to urban areas, in universities and in research institutions only, she said.

She asserted that innovation was not only about hi-technology implements, that it did not only occur in urban settings and that it did not only take place in state-of-the-art laboratories.

Innovation is all around and has been practiced since time immemorial. It has no colour, no gender, no age, no status. It takes place in our homes, in our garages and in the most far-flung of our rural areas. That is the reason we have brought this workshop here in your province, because we believe that knowledge production should be allowed to flourish, irrespective of where it originates from. It is important that innovation taking place in rural areas is taken seriously and that it is made sustainable. We will strive to develop systems that best respond to how we can empower grassroots innovators, said Shinga.

She added that the hosting of Grassroots Innovation Workshops was an attempt to open up and democratise innovation systems to stimulate inclusive growth and economic transformation.

The Deputy Director-General of the Limpopo Department of Economic Development, Environment and Tourism (LEDET), Mr Matodzi Rathumbu pointed out the importance of supporting rural inventors to safeguard their inventions.

Our province is endowed with the most brilliant creative minds in the country, but our shortcomings are that we’re not doing enough to safeguard and document these inventions for sustainable economic purposes. It is imperative going forward that we support our innovators trademark and intellectually secure their innovations so they can enjoy their fruits of their brilliance, he said.

Grassroots Innovation Workshops will be rolled out to at least four rural provinces, with Limpopo already serving as a launch pad for the campaign. It is anticipated that these workshops will unearth technologies from underdeveloped communities, they will create networking platforms for technology development and commercialisation and focused technology development and innovative thinking at grassroots levels.

Source: Department of Trade and Industry

Innovation interventions slow in translating into Socio-Economic Benefits

The Chief Director of Innovation and Technology at the Department of Trade and Industry (the dti), Ms Nonkululeko Shinga says that the reviews indicate that innovation has not been translated into socio-economic benefits and the government funding instruments are inaccessible to the innovators in rural and township communities. Shinga said this during the opening of the two-day Grassroots Innovation Workshop which took place in Limpopo.

It is as a direct response to this imbalance that we have resolved to roll-out this series of Grassroots Innovation Workshops to counter this and to address issues of knowledge production, which are limited to urban areas, in universities and in research institutions only, she said.

She asserted that innovation was not only about hi-technology implements, that it did not only occur in urban settings and that it did not only take place in state-of-the-art laboratories.

Innovation is all around and has been practiced since time immemorial. It has no colour, no gender, no age, no status. It takes place in our homes, in our garages and in the most far-flung of our rural areas. That is the reason we have brought this workshop here in your province, because we believe that knowledge production should be allowed to flourish, irrespective of where it originates from. It is important that innovation taking place in rural areas is taken seriously and that it is made sustainable. We will strive to develop systems that best respond to how we can empower grassroots innovators, said Shinga.

She added that the hosting of Grassroots Innovation Workshops was an attempt to open up and democratise innovation systems to stimulate inclusive growth and economic transformation.

The Deputy Director-General of the Limpopo Department of Economic Development, Environment and Tourism (LEDET), Mr Matodzi Rathumbu pointed out the importance of supporting rural inventors to safeguard their inventions.

Our province is endowed with the most brilliant creative minds in the country, but our shortcomings are that we’re not doing enough to safeguard and document these inventions for sustainable economic purposes. It is imperative going forward that we support our innovators trademark and intellectually secure their innovations so they can enjoy their fruits of their brilliance, he said.

Grassroots Innovation Workshops will be rolled out to at least four rural provinces, with Limpopo already serving as a launch pad for the campaign. It is anticipated that these workshops will unearth technologies from underdeveloped communities, they will create networking platforms for technology development and commercialisation and focused technology development and innovative thinking at grassroots levels.

Source: Department of Trade and Industry

MEC Beverley SchA�fer addresses Blockchain Africa Conference

Blockchain provides opportunities to improve government efficiency and develop the new economy

Premier of the Western Cape, Helen Zille and MEC of Economic Opportunities, Beverley SchA�fer both gave key note addresses at the Blockchain Africa conference held in Cape Town today, focusing on the possibilities blockchain technology holds for the Western Cape.

Blockchain, the technology which underpins crypto currencies, creates a digital ledger which is stored in a shared network. The technology allows multiple users to access the information, but not to change it, so it provides a reliable and transparent record.

While still relatively new and largely untested, the technology has several applications in the government and the private sector that enhance the speed, efficiency and transparency of transactions.

Globally, blockchain is being used by governments to simplify the transfer of assets, thereby cutting down the cost and time involved in property transfers, car sales and other administrative processes. It could also centralise healthcare records, allowing doctors to access patients’ records and track educational outcomes throughout a child’s schooling career. Because the technology does not allow anyone to change the data, it also creates a system of trust, and has the potential to minimise corruption.

The Western Cape Government is driving innovation and positioning the province as a global technology hub. Our focus is on developing the future economy and in order to do that, we need to embrace the Fourth Industrial Revolution and explore how technologies like blockchain can help us drive service delivery and economic growth.

Speaking at the event, Premier Helen Zille said: We have to understand and incorporate the potential of blockchain to revolutionize our systems. New ideas require experimentation through private public partnership incubators or what we call ‘sandboxes’, to see how the regulatory environment can facilitate the development of a range of applications in a context of policy certainty. I look forward to seeing the Western Cape Government exploring these in years to come.

MEC SchA�fer and Premier Zille also met with several local and international players in the blockchain field on the side lines of the conference in order to discuss the various ways in which the technology is already being implemented.

In her speech, MEC SchA�fer explored the potential of using blockchain technology and crypto currencies to help bank the unbanked and provide affordable, accessible financial products to the informal sector, traders and small businesses.

She also detailed how blockchain could be used to track agricultural products, thereby allowing retailers and even consumers to accurately track their food from farm to fork. International pilot projects have shown the potential of using this kind of technology to minimise the impact of food-borne diseases and outbreaks.

The technology could also be used in the tourism space in a range of applications from reducing ATM fraud to being able to easily track lost luggage.

Source: Government of South Africa