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Enhancing Science Partnerships for Innovation and Sustainable Development


Ambassador for the Year of Science

Interview with the special ambassador of the Year of Science, Motsi Mabuse
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Enhancing cooperation with South Africa

Federal Minister of Education and Research Annette Schavan with Derek Hanekom, South African Minister of Science and Technology
Annette Schavan and Derek Hanekom (c) DST

Federal Minister of Research Annette Schavan is travelling to South Africa today where she will meet representatives of science, research, politics and business and discuss how to further enhance cooperation.

"The traditionally good cooperation between our countries has developed further under the German-South African Year of Science 2012/2013", the Minister said at the beginning of her trip. "I am looking forward to taking stock of the programme with our numerous partners in South Africa and to discussing new common approaches for the coming years."

Johannesburg, Pretoria and Cape Town are the stops on the Minister's five day trip. One priority of her visit is to intensify cooperation in the area of vocational education and training (VET). Furthermore, scientific cooperation between both countries is to be further strengthened and promoted lastingly beyond the Science Year, in particular in the areas of astronomy, bioeconomy, the humanities and social sciences, the health industry, climate change and urbanization/megacities.

Minister Schavan's trip will begin with a bilateral meeting with Derek Hanekom, the South African Minister of Science and Technology. She will also visit education and research institutions, such as the Cape Peninsula University of Technology, MINTEK as the leading South African institution in the area of raw materials research, as well as the Council for Scientific Research and the Maths Center, a non-governmental organization offering initial and continuing training programmes for teachers and students in the areas of mathematics, science, technology and entrepreneurship. The Minister will also visit "HOPE", an NGO that is active in the fight against HIV/AIDS.

The German delegation will gain an insight into practical vocational training in South Africa when it visits the Builders Training Centre Soweto (BTC). A meeting will take place with the German Chamber of Commerce in South Africa and representatives of German companies as well as initial and continuing training providers to discuss with experts the growing markets and related challenges. The Minister will also visit a number of South-African based German companies: SAP, Festo AG, AEROSUD and Atlantis Foundries, which is part of Mercedes Benz Group. These visits will focus on aspects of VET.

On 7 February, the Minister together with the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation will present the very first "Humboldt Research Award in Memory of Neville Alexander". The Award will honour three outstanding African researchers who – in close cooperation with German scientists – have been making important contributions to addressing the mayor challenges facing emerging and developing countries in their respective fields. The Kenyan award winner Professor Joseph Owuor Lalah, for example, has contributed decisively to conserving the Kenyan wildlife stock with his research in the environmental field and his studies of the toxic impact of certain types of environmental pollution on lions. Besides receiving 60,000 euros in prize money, the prize winners are also being invited to Germany to conduct research projects of their choosing together with German colleagues.

The research awards are part of the "Neville Alexander Memorial Fund", an initiative of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation with BMBF funding. The prize is dedicated to the Humboldtian Dr Neville Alexander, who died in summer 2012. Dr Alexander was a companion of Nelson Mandela and was dedicated to the establishment of independent education and research capacities far beyond national borders. As part of this initiative, an institutional partnership was established to promote the "African-German Network of Excellence in Science" (AGNES). It is committed to improving the networking of Humboldtians in Africa, on the one hand, and to promoting scientific exchanges between top-class African researchers and German cooperation partners, on the other, as well as to acquainting young scientists with research in Germany.