1 February 2010
Two South African scientists have won the African Union’s (AU’s) first awards for excellence in science. The awards were made during the AU’s heads of state summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on Sunday.
Professor Diane Hildebrandt, co-director at the centre for optimisation modelling and process synthesis at Johannesburg’s University of Witwatersrand, was the winner in the basic science and innovation category.
Patrick Eriksson, head of the geology department at the University of Pretoria, was the winner in the earth and life sciences category.
They were chosen from 50 contestants from across the continent for the outstanding work in their fields, and were each rewarded with US$100 000 for their achievement.
South African President Jacob Zuma, who handed the scientists their awards during a ceremony in Addis Ababa, said the awards resonated with the theme of the summit, which focuses on improving Africa’s information and communication technology infrastructure.
Zuma said the two had contributed to flying the South African flag internationally.
“Science, technology and innovation form indispensable tools for driving socio-economic progress … and is sustained by adequate and competent human capital,” Zuma said.