Tuesday, 24 July 2018

Meeting with the Presidents of South Africa and China: Dialogue about scientific cooperation

Xifeng and me were thrilled to attend the Sino-South African forum on scientific cooperation that was chaired by HE Minister of Science and Technology Kubayi-Ngubane. The HE President Xi Jinping and HE President Cyril Ramaphosa have addressed the audience. The event took place at the CSIR International Convention Centre in Pretoria. 

We are exhilerated that High Energy Particle Physics has been highlighted for an event of this profile. Prof Yifang Wang, Academician of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Director: Institute of High Energy Physics gave an overview of Particle Physics and Astro-Particle Physics, including the Circular Electron Positron Collider (CEPC) project. This mega project is envisaged to collide electrons and positrons at a centre of mass energy of around 250 GeV and it is suited to achieve precision in the measurement of Higgs boson couplings to particles in the Standard Model and beyond. 

Before the gathering Prof. Tawana Kupe and me had a chance to hang out and chat with a couple of Ministers. We exchanged pleasantries with HE. Minister of Higher Education and Training, Naledi Pandor. She was the Minister of Science and Technology when the Higgs boson discovery was announced. She remembered the press release that was issued on July 4th to congratulate the community on the discovery. We also managed to chat with the HE Minister of Science and Technology Kubayi-Ngubane about the organisation of the event. Also, shook hands with the Director General of the Department of Science and Technology Dr. Phil Mjwara.

From left to right, Prof. Ronald Clarke, known for the discovery of “Little Foot”, Prof. Tawana Kupe, Acting Vice Chancellor of Wits University, Prof.  Prof Yifang Wang, and yours trully. 

HE Kubayi-Ngubane took the floor to introduce the two presidents. 

HE President Cyril Ramaphosa Emphasized that South Africa is ready to contribute to technological development and service delivery in that area. Hard choices need to be done as to where and how to invest existing resources. And this is where international cooperation becomes crucial for technology transfer and innovation where the exchange of experience and expertise is necessary. Challenges like climate change can also be met on the basis of international cooperation in science and technology. Large projects like the SKA cannot be undertaken by one nation alone. China’s crucial contribution to the SKA is commended. Joint research centres in critical economic activities like mining and forectry are envisioned. This includes establishing science parks, which will hopefully spur Chinese investment. 

HE President Xi Jinping stated that the relations between China and South Afric are a paradime of relations between China and Africa and other developing countries. The increase of joint laboratories and joint research centres is also highlighted. China supports the flagship project of the continent, the SKA. What Chinese and South African scientists have achieved together is attracting attention. More platforms of innovation are needed in a number of priority areas. 

Prof. Yifang Wang addressed the forum with a review of Particle Physics and Astro-Particle Physics in China. He touched upon the CEPC as well. He showed a slide with the collaboration with South Africa, which included the visit of the Vice Chancellor of the University of the Witwatersrand last year and a number of collaborative activities in Particle Physics that have intensified since. Prof. Wang also showed some pictures of the recent IEEE-sponsored school on instrumentation that took place at iThemba LABS mid July. One of the distinguished lecturers was Dr. Zhenan Liu from the Institute of High Energy Physics in Beijing. 

Below is the agenda of the event:

Celebrating Science, Technology and Innovation Partnerships between South Africa and China 
to Advance the Fourth Industrial Revolution for Common Development

Tuesday 24 July 2018
Venue: CSIR International Convention Centre, Pretoria

Dialogue between South African and Chinese Scientists

High-level Segment

16:30  Introduction to Dialogue by HE Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane, Minister of Science and Technology of the Republic of South Africa

16:35  Keynote Speech by HE President Cyril Ramaphosa, President of the Republic of South Africa

16:45  Keynote Speech by HE President Xi Jinping, President of the People’s Republic of China

16:55  Vote of Thanks by Minister Kubayi-Ngubane


17:05  Presentation by South African and Chinese scientists on the science, technology and innovation response to the Fourth Industrial Revolution

            South African speakers:
·      Prof Tshilidzi Marwala, Vice Chancellor of the University of Johannesburg
·      Ms Zanele Mbatha, Entrepreneur in Fuel Cell Technology
·      Dr Thulani Dlamini, CEO of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research
·      Prof Tebello Nyokong, South African Research Chair in Medicinal Chemistry and Nanotechnology
·      Dr Nompumelelo Obokoh, Divisional Manager: Innovation Support and Protection for Companies & Intellectual Property Commission

Chinese speakers:
·      Prof Wu Xianping, Academician of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Principal Scientist of SKA (China)
·      Dr Zhai Mingguo, Academician of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Institute of Geology and Geophysics
·      Prof Wang Yifang, Academician of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Director: Institute of High Energy Physics
·      Mr Xia Xiaoou, Chairperson of the Beijing General Research Institute of Mining and Metallurgy (BGRIMM)
·      Mr Chen Zongnian, Chairperson of the Board of Hangzhou Hikvision Digital Technology Company 
18:35  Discussion and conclusion on future prospects for South African – Chinese cooperation

19:00  Closing of event

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