The NSFT celebrates 25 years

The Nationwide Science and Know-how Discussion board (NSTF) has a protracted historical past as a part of democratic South Africa. From 1991, the precursor for the NSTF, known as the Science and Know-how Initiative, was a part of the negotiations held throughout the Conference for a Democratic South Africa (CODESA). The NSTF was consequently based in 1995. Its then-mandate was to supervise the institution of a democratic and inclusive science system. 

This yr is the twenty fifth anniversary of the NSTF, now a nationwide stakeholder physique representing organisations concerned in science, engineering, know-how and innovation (SETI). The NSTF continues to have ongoing enter into nationwide coverage and planning processes. One in every of its major mandates is to carry dialogue boards for an ongoing trade between the SETI neighborhood and authorities. 

“It’s the biggest, oldest and most consultant stakeholder physique of its variety. It represents greater than 100 organisations, councils and establishments nationally and spans each the non-public and public sectors,” says Ms Jansie Niehaus, NSTF government director. “The NSTF is an unbiased SETI platform, a necessary aspect of an lively democracy and an necessary a part of the collaboration course of wanted in SETI.” 

This not-for-profit organisation has seven membership sectors: enterprise (together with SMMEs and enterprise associations), civil society and labour, authorities, increased training, skilled our bodies and realized societies, science councils and statutory our bodies, and state-owned enterprises. (For the complete checklist, look underneath membership on 

Dr Mpho Lekgoathi, NSTF vice-chair

Inside this SETI stakeholder group, there are researchers in numerous disciplines, engineers, entrepreneurs and innovators, technologists and technicians, directors and managers, and teachers and educators.

NSTF’s position within the SETI panorama

The NSTF’s work centres round representing SETI organisations by means of three foremost areas: networking stakeholders and fascinating authorities departments round SETI-related points, selling SETI, and liaising with authorities on behalf of stakeholders. These areas then increase into numerous actions.

Recognising excellence in SETI

The annual NSTF-South32 Awards started in 1998 and at the moment are thought-about South Africa’s ‘Science Oscars’. They recognise and have a good time excellence inside SETI sectors, rewarding the efforts and contributions of prime scientists and associated professionals in South Africa. The awards are additionally used as a mechanism to advertise SETI achievements to the youth and to most of the people. There are two related youth outreach programmes: the NSTF Share ‘n Dare Programme (the place award winners share their information) and the NSTF Brilliants Programme (which recognises prime bodily science and arithmetic college students.

Unified voice for SETI neighborhood round coverage points

The NSTF is collaborative house to interact round SETI coverage and associated points. One of many methods it does that is with NSTF Dialogue Boards. Run like quick conferences, the subjects are of cross-cutting relevance to the SETI neighborhood. Some current subjects embrace:

Jansie Niehaus, NSTF Govt Director

• Investigating the 4IR applied sciences wanted for manufacturing and minerals processing

• Taking a look at how the profession paths for researchers has modified, from embracing broad science and complexity to programs considering and entrepreneurship

• Understanding the complexity of plastics air pollution within the South African context 

Single SETI platform for all sectors and disciplines

“The NSTF’s goal is to create a collaborative house the place the totally different sectors and disciplines can share info and have interaction with one another,” explains Niehaus. So as to add cohesion, the organisation sends out a month-to-month e-newsletter about SETI-related public insurance policies, occasions and different SETI-related information. 

As a part of representing the SETI neighborhood, the NSTF collates out there bursaries and bursary suppliers as an internet supply. (It’s underneath the ‘Bursary’ part on the NSTF web site.) Additional on-line youth engagement affords profession info and position mannequin profiles. The NSTF Bursary Listing and SETI Careers initiative was carried out with funding from the United Nations Instructional, Scientific and Cultural Group (UNESCO) and the DSI in 2011. 

The NSTF can also be concerned with numerous tasks, primarily with the DSI. Latest examples embrace an NPO assist programme for organisations led by black ladies. The NSTF additionally trains younger science graduates from the DSI’s Nationwide Youth Service and Nationwide Analysis Basis Internship Programmes. This started in 2006. 

From current to the long run

“We’re proud to have reached the necessary milestone of 25 years,” says Niehaus. “It has come at a really related time for SETI. Classes from the Covid-19 pandemic present us that it’s extra necessary than ever to debate the linkages between science, know-how and society, the varied causes and results, the unintended penalties, and whom it advantages. As necessary is for everybody to be told, together with the general public, the choice makers, the scientists and different SETI professionals.” 

The panorama of the Nationwide System of Innovation might be fractured. The NSTF represents a lot of the disparate analysis and knowledge constructions and creates a collaborative multi-disciplinary house. Niehaus notes that the NSTF is likely one of the few SETI entities that operates as an unbiased platform the place bridges might be constructed – between science and training, between engineering and science, and between elements of presidency and science, and so forth. 

Future plans embrace representing much more SETI organisations in South Africa and creating stronger engagement with authorities departments. The NSTF can also be creating worldwide collaborations, equivalent to partnering with the Triple Helix Affiliation which goals to develop university-industry-government interactions to foster analysis, innovation, entrepreneurship and regional sustainable growth. 

The NSTF will probably be internet hosting, on behalf of South Africa, a digital panel as a part of the worldwide convention ‘ISPIM connects world – celebrating the world of Innovation’. That is an initiative by the Worldwide Society for Skilled Innovation Administration held repeatedly throughout 24 hours all over the world. The convention runs from 6-8 December 2020 and the South African panel dialogue led by the NSTF is on 7 December 2020 and is ‘Classes in innovation from South Africa’. (Go to for particulars.)

A concentrate on skilled our bodies and realized societies

Professionals in science, engineering and know-how (SET) is a sector of the NSTF titled proSET. It consists {of professional} our bodies and realized societies that characterize professionals in numerous fields. The NSTF proSET focuses on facilitating cooperation amongst skilled organisations concerning SETI and training, amongst different areas. 

proSET reference information

A venture (quickly to be launched) is the proSET information which particulars its member organisations. The goal is to construct this right into a useful reference of all skilled societies working inside SETI and SETI training. It would embrace an summary of the SETI atmosphere in South Africa and the position that numerous SETI professions play. 

“This can allow numerous stakeholders to attach and collaborate, equivalent to younger graduates utilizing the reference information to construct their skilled networks,” says Mr David Botha, co-chair of proSET. 

The STEMulator

The STEMulator is a digital exploratorium of animated STEM (science, know-how, engineering and arithmetic) instructional exhibitions. 

“It’s designed to ignite a spark of curiosity in younger minds. Within the STEMulator you may discover how issues work, and the science and engineering behind them,” explains venture lead, Mr Richard Gundersen. “STEM careers associated to the ‘reveals’ are additionally defined. The event of the STEMulator is ongoing as we need to embrace as many points of STEM as potential.” Discover it at

The ‘Science Oscars’ – the NSTF-South32 Awards

The Nationwide Science and Know-how Discussion board (NSTF) has held annual awards since 1998. Named the NSTF-South32 Awards and thought of South Africa’s “Science Oscars”, they recognise excellence inside the science, engineering, know-how and  innovation (SETI)  sectors. It’s been 22 years of rewarding the efforts and contributions of prime scientists and associated professionals in South Africa. 

The Gala Dinner goes on-line: Above reveals the 2019 Gala dinner. This yr the Gala occasion was on-line and live-streamed due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The QR code will hyperlink you to the edited highlights:

The NSTF-South32 Awards are nationwide and open to everybody (they had been the primary of this kind.) The awards are additionally collaborative, created for and adjudicated by the neighborhood. They encourage the involvement and participation of SETI organisations in analysis, and this consists of enterprise. The awards patron is the Minister of Greater Schooling, Science and Innovation, Dr Blade Nzimande. 

Contributions are recognised in these areas:

• Scientific analysis

• Administration of SETI and innovation

• Capability constructing in engineering analysis

• Water administration options 

• Environmental sustainability and biodiversity conservation 

• Knowledge for analysis

• Improvements and their analysis and/or growth

• Science communication and creating consciousness 

• Non-governmental organisation (NGO) actions, which might embrace know-how switch actions, and training and coaching 

• A particular annual theme award

The awards present house for people, groups and organisations, the latter being company, non-profit and SMME organisations. Junior and senior people are additionally recognised. This yr marks 247 winners, inclusive of people, groups and organisations. Of the person winners, 35% have been ladies and 39% characterize beforehand deprived folks.

Award winners as SETI position fashions 

The awards play an necessary position in elevating consciousness among the many basic public and youth about native analysis and its relevance. In addition to the attention across the awards, there’s a partnership with the South African Journal of Science (SAJS) the place NSTF Award winners can submit commentaries.

There’s additionally an related outreach programme known as NSTF Share ‘n Dare. It’s a focused intervention to advertise the winners’ work and to showcase position fashions for SET and innovation. It consists of important outreach work, equivalent to talks, information sharing, and profession recommendation, in addition to elevating consciousness among the many public by means of the media. The programme has been operating since 2009.

Selling science and maths

Starting in 2001, there’s one other initiative related to the annual awards known as the NSTF Brilliants Programme. It focuses on the highest science and arithmetic matriculants from public colleges from the earlier yr — a person and a lady from every of the 9 provinces. High marks actually imply prime marks: above 90%. The programme entails at the least 18 first-year college students who’re finding out within the science, medication and engineering fields.

The programme goals to encourage these college students to finish their research after which pursue SETI-related careers. It allows entry to potential position fashions and mentors, and recommendation from consultants who can handle their research and profession issues. It additionally exposes the scholars to science and engineering within the area and get in touch with with consultants. 

When Covid-19 isn’t upturning the conventional, the Brilliants college students are sponsored to get to the awards and are then recognised and applauded on the NSTF-South32 Awards Gala Dinner. There’s additionally an academic tour in a SETI-related {industry} and a motivational audio system’ programme. 

The Division of Science and Innovation offers a bursary fund for the NSTF Brilliants Programme and different chosen college students. This provides once-off top-up funding if the scholars don’t have full bursaries for his or her first-year bills.

Normally NSTF-South32 Award winners exit into the neighborhood to current and have interaction, with a concentrate on the youth. Nonetheless, with Covid-19, this engagement has been introduced on-line. The QR code will hyperlink you to this yr’s on-line talks:

Message of Help

The Division of Science and Innovation (DSI) has had assist from the Nationwide Science and Know-how Discussion board (NSTF) from inception and I’m unsure persons are conscious of this. The twenty fifth anniversary of the NSTF is a celebration of the various years that we’ve got labored collectively.

Once we began because the Division of Arts, Tradition, Science and Know-how, there was a fragmented science neighborhood. It was a brand new authorities and, consequently, a brand new journey. We would have liked to convey the science neighborhood collectively and the one mechanism we had was the NSTF. This set the tone for the way the Division engaged with the science, engineering, know-how and innovation (SETI) neighborhood for a few years. An instance is the primary science, know-how and innovation White Paper in 1996, a part of its success is as a result of tone, engagement and transparency between all of the stakeholders. The NSTF has all the time been a part of the engagement and have helped the Division throughout the years of coverage growth. The organisation is a discussion board to be taught extra about what the federal government is considering. In the identical approach, there has all the time been wonderful suggestions from the NSTF about what the SETI neighborhood is considering. None of that is taken as a right by the Division. 

Lifetime Award Winner Professor Robin Crewe and Director-Normal Dr Phil Mjwara, Division of Science and Innovation, on the 2019 NSTF-Souoth 32 Awards

Going again to the early years, we might see the constructive outcomes (of the federal government programmes) because the SETI neighborhood responded to nationwide methods. This success wanted to be rewarded and, as soon as once more, the NSTF got here by means of with their awards (now known as the NSTF-South32 Awards). These have been operating for 22 years. The Division is impressed with elevated illustration of the awards recipients. The NSTF labored exhausting on the profiles, making certain that youthful and upcoming members of the neighborhood are recognised. The NSTF might be pleased with their contribution to transformation within the SETI neighborhood.

The DSI is severe about encouraging youthful folks and we’re delighted with the work that the NSTF does. You can not underestimate the affect of the NSTF Brilliants and Share and Dare programmes. (These are youth engagement programmes that contain outreach into the neighborhood and elevating the profile of SETI.) I can nonetheless see the younger Brilliants recipient saying that simply standing in entrance of all these extremely revered scientists inspired him to need to do extra. 

Yearly we’ve got the Science Discussion board South Africa as a platform to attach additional with our SETI neighborhood in addition to like communities throughout the continent. One of many methods South Africa is an instance and a frontrunner is by displaying the significance of getting a platform such because the NSTF. That is an unbiased house the place the SETI neighborhood can interact and maintain discussions. 

We might additionally prefer to thank the NSTF for being a nurturing atmosphere for a number of the organisations that we concentrate on. Two examples are Black Girls in Science and Nka’Thuto Edu Propeller. The Division wished a house for younger science graduates the place they’ll community and create a bigger profile inside the SETI atmosphere. This has been extraordinarily precious to us and is a part of an incubation course of. 

We at the moment are finalising our decadal plan on science, know-how and innovation. There will probably be new proposals and a spread of programmes occurring within the subsequent few months. We see the NSTF taking part in an necessary position within the transition and this consists of bringing public-private partnership gamers into the programme.

Selling dialogue

A part of the Nationwide Science and Know-how Discussion board (NSTF) mandate is to carry common policy-related discussions, together with on burning points inside the science, engineering, know-how and innovation (SETI) neighborhood. Since 1995, these occasions have promoted dialogue amongst SETI stakeholders — together with between the private and non-private sectors, between authorities and different stakeholders, and between skilled SETI professionals and the youth. 

The dialogue boards present a non-partisan house for the SETI neighborhood to watch associated insurance policies and to offer suggestions on these and different coverage points to authorities, the general public and the remainder of the neighborhood. Represented sectors embrace increased training the place many researchers reside, enterprise, science councils and statutory our bodies, authorities and civil society.

Extra SETI coverage sources

The NSTF’s month-to-month publication has been despatched out since 1998. Over time it has turn out to be a useful resource, containing SETI-related information and SETI coverage information; it serves as a month-to-month snapshot of what’s occurring in science in South Africa. (To subscribe, go to Moreover, the Nationwide Growth Plan (NDP) has been summarised from a SETI perspective. Discover it on the NSTF web site underneath news/set policy

Solomon Lechesa Tsenolo, Deputy Speaker of the Nationwide Meeting, Parliament South Africa

Excerpts from media releases

The next are excerpts from media releases about particular dialogue boards. These relate to the theme of the fourth industrial revolution (4IR), an necessary SETI-related subject that impacts all folks and industries in South Africa. 

The 4IR has big potential to enhance operations in numerous industries, in training, and in folks’s lives. A part of the NSTF’s imaginative and prescient is a reworked nation the place SETI contributes to a top quality of life for all who stay in South Africa, in addition to the place the training system is efficient, notably concerning efficiency in SETI topics and selling innovation. 

Manufacturing and minerals processing – 4IR applied sciences South Africa wants to amass

The NSTF Dialogue Discussion board was a part of Science Discussion board South Africa, an annual initiative of the Division of Science and Innovation in December 2019. 

NSTF Dialogue Discussion board report-back: In relation to 4IR and manufacturing, the priority is that South Africa is, usually, far behind its BRICS companions (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa).

Trade 4.0 might be seen because the intersection of producing, automation, and ICT programs to create a pathway for elevated efficiencies, higher manufacturing, decreased value of manufacturing, and the next advantages. It holds the potential for very small localised manufacturing and what this may do for the economic system. Assume lounge scale and micro industries utilizing 3D printers and different applied sciences.

The World Financial Discussion board Report on “Readiness for the Way forward for Manufacturing” examines 12 rising applied sciences for 4IR, together with: synthetic intelligence (AI) and robotics; Web of Issues; digital and augmented actuality; additive manufacturing; blockchain and distributed ledger applied sciences; superior supplies and nanomaterials; and vitality seize, storage and transmission. To be environment friendly and aggressive, the South African manufacturing {industry} must implement at the least a few of these applied sciences. The “how it’s completed” is essential. It’s potential to transition with out dropping jobs, so there must be a transparent technique that features upskilling.

The BRICS South African Working Group has quite a lot of proposals. One in every of these is a know-how financial institution for shielding mental property (IP) with the subsequent step of facilitating manufacturing inside the nation. South Africa can’t proceed to primarily import applied sciences. There’s a want to make use of homegrown IP to create new know-how, and to customize imported applied sciences whereas together with native sources and domestically developed materials.

The Working Group suggests creating frameworks for regulation and ethics. Different proposals embrace the necessity for the suitable digital infrastructure (equivalent to connectivity, cheap knowledge and a safe energy provide) and the related cyber safety and related {qualifications}. 

Taking a look at expertise, suggestions from the dialogue discussion board reveals concern over how lengthy it takes to develop programs and {qualifications}. This might result in even larger expertise gaps if it’s not addressed. It’s additionally crucial to develop a crucial considering mindset. 

Different proposals contain college students, whereas finding out, having the chance to be entrepreneurs and to contain themselves extra in {industry}. Concepts and training aren’t sufficient: South Africa wants individuals who can implement their concepts.

Growing expertise for 4IR applied sciences should put folks at its centre and present they won’t be left behind. This implies communication — sharing what is occurring with the reasoning and the pathways for expertise growth. In South Africa, there’s a giant inhabitants of unemployed individuals who have to be a part of the answer. The consensus is that digital literacy and training, usually, are key, with the necessity to develop a tradition of lifelong studying and self-development.

Delegates on the NSTF Dialogue Discussion board on ‘Profession paths for researchers – the place to in a altering world?’ from 2-3 December, 2019. For particulars, go to

Communication must be an trade and it can’t be prime down. The recommendation was to go to folks the place the challenges exist. Communities know what the problems are and have a deal with on options that take a number of elements into consideration, however they want companions.

Discover extra info at 

Superior manufacturing and automation: potential and challenges

This NSTF Dialogue Discussion board addressed how new applied sciences, and 4IR usually, have the potential to revolutionise manufacturing industries in South Africa. The three-day occasion was carried out in partnership with the NSTF proSET sector (skilled our bodies and realized societies) and ran from 11-13 September 2019. 

NSTF Dialogue Discussion board report-back: Manufacturing industries in South Africa want very particular expertise. That is an atmosphere the place corporations need to repeatedly enhance efficiencies and productiveness to remain in enterprise. It’s a sector that embraces know-how and the place 4IR applied sciences are already being deployed.

The time period “4IR” might be understood as cyber-physical programs, networks, and AI embedded in new methods inside bigger societies, communities, and even within the human physique. Trade 4.0 might be seen as connecting embedded system applied sciences and good processes to radically rework {industry} and manufacturing worth chains and enterprise fashions.

In relation to folks and the priority that robots will exchange folks in factories, it was put ahead that insurance policies shouldn’t concentrate on defending jobs, however on defending the person. There will probably be jobs, however staff will want higher-end expertise equivalent to programming, designing and creating apps.

Analysis printed by the Division of Commerce and Trade (DTI) in 2016 reveals that manufacturing output quantity has solely elevated marginally since 2004. Importing is the usual, with little exporting, and this wants to alter. Nonetheless, non-public funding challenges level to restrictive labour laws, an inadequately educated workforce and poor work ethics within the nationwide labour pressure. The DTI goals to develop the manufacturing sector as that is positioned as a very necessary sector for job creation, new enterprise and expertise growth.

South African knowledge, throughout industries, reveals an growing hole between expertise demand and expertise provide. The Intsimbi Future Manufacturing Applied sciences Initiative is a partnership between authorities and {industry}. The goal is expertise growth and enterprise competitiveness, specializing in the superior manufacturing sector. Right here {industry} has taken the lead.

South Africans are the innovators on this worldwide pilot. It differs from different expertise initiatives in the way it operates. There’s a country-level nodal community that sits on an ICT platform. The gadgets and knowledge from the programme stream to this. The creation of enormous quantities of knowledge and the evaluation thereof (Huge Knowledge) enable AI and different 4IR applied sciences to play a big position.

The training pathways are centred round competencies wanted by {industry} and customised to the person. It’s about packaging curriculum content material into frameworks that meet {industry} wants. Intsimbi is utilizing current worldwide requirements. College students work on modules and the coaching is free. Corporations put their coaching materials on the platform and supply tools for the sensible studying labs. 

In relation to manufacturing, South Africa has a job to play in creating acceptable know-how that leads to low-cost gadgets. It’s about context and responding to Africa-specific challenges.

Discover extra info at

Implications of 4IR for SETI, {industry}, society, and training 

The Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) themed occasion was held from 11-13 September 2018. The goal was to discover the collective understanding of 4IR. 

NSTF Dialogue Discussion board report again: Various approaches to 4IR had been proposed. One is that sustainable financial progress depends on productiveness progress, which is pushed by technological change. The thought is to concentrate on what must be achieved slightly than the identify. Globally these goals vary from enhancing competitiveness and creating 4IR applied sciences to enhancing digital start-ups and ecosystems. 

One other strategy is knowing technological change as extra evolution than revolution. Numerous 4IR applied sciences aren’t that new (for instance, robotics). They need to be built-in into organisational, sector and industrial methods slightly than seen as a large change. 

One other 4IR strategy is to embrace selection and the shaping of our future, each collectively and individually. Society and know-how can co-evolve with know-how embedded in society.

For South Africa to be really aggressive, we have to take 4IR alternatives acceptable to our context. This consists of creating industries round alternatives and making certain inexpensive broadband connectivity. South Africa additionally must do its personal know-how R&D, in addition to assimilate and adapt inbound applied sciences. Moreover, it’s important to construct folks’s capabilities and expertise round know-how.

There’s lots of anxiousness round 4IR. One is ‘know-how singularity’ the place machines and synthetic intelligence are so superior, they surpass people. Nonetheless, the extra speedy concern is job losses. Present considering sees rote jobs as being probably the most susceptible. The settlement is that there’ll most likely be job losses, particularly within the low-skilled sectors. Job creation will most likely not match job losses, plus the character of present jobs will evolve. This implies training turns into crucial, as does reskilling and upskilling. A nationwide dialogue is required.

Yanesh Naidoo, Gross sales and Design Director at Jendamark, addressing the viewers on ‘Alternatives for SA corporations within the 4IR house’

4IR is a key theme for presidency with quite a few initiatives and techniques round it. Thematic areas cowl: digital society, ICT coverage, regulatory and legislative reforms; innovation, analysis and growth; financial coverage and inclusive progress; industrial restructuring and commerce; labour market restructuring; training and expertise growth; and remodeling authorities and repair supply. All this must be agile sufficient to maintain up with the fast-changing tempo of know-how.

There’s additionally a necessity for evidence-based analysis to tell choice making. Tackling huge societal issues, equivalent to excessive youth unemployment and water shortage, will want collaboration (particularly throughout authorities), multi-disciplinary partnerships and a regional perspective.

Discover extra info at 

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