SA, UK look to science collaboration

12 September 2013

South Africa and the United Kingdom have signed an agreement to promote greater collaboration among scientists from the two countries, the Department of Science and Technology announced on Tuesday.

Under the agreement, each country will contribute R1.5-million towards organising seminars and conferences that bring together groups of early- to mid-career scientists from South Africa and the UK.

South African Science and Technology Minister Derek Hanekom and British Science and Universities Minister David Willetts signed the agreement in Cape Town on Tuesday.

The scientific seminar scheme, as it is known, will run from October 2013 to March 2015. It will be administered by South Africa’s National Research Foundation and Britain’s Royal Society.

The first seminar under the scheme will be a workshop, scheduled for February 2014, to promote scientific engagement in areas including astronomy, renewable energy, biosciences and health research.

Willetts was in the country along with UK Foreign Secretary William Hague and other high-level government officials for the 10th South Africa-UK Bilateral Forum, which took place in Cape Town on Tuesday.

On Wednesday, Willetts joined Hanekom on a visit to the Karoo in the Northern Cape, where South Africa is building the 64-dish MeerKAT radio telescope, a precursor to the Square Kilometre Array (SKA).

“South Africa and the United Kingdom have enjoyed bilateral relations on science and technology since 1995, and this scheme is viewed by both countries as a key step in the reinvigoration of the science and technology co-operation,” the department said in a statement.

SAinfo reporter