Honourable Minister Naledi Pandor launches the Southern Africa Systems Analysis Centre at UWC
The Southern African Systems Analysis Centre (SASAC) is hosted by UWC in collaboration with the Universities of Limpopo, Witwatersrand and Stellenbosch, and directed by Prof Thandi Mgwebi, Research Director at UWC. SASAC provides an opportunity for young, emerging doctoral candidates to advance their research under the supervision of senior International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) scientists and South African researchers/scientists, and at the same time contribute to the development of a globally competitive science system. For the 2016 intake, a group of 19 students have been competitively selected to participate in the SASAC programme. Visit the following link for more information on SASAC:http://www.sasac.ac.za
In his opening remarks, Prof Frans Swanepoel, DVC Research and Innovation at UWC, commented thatSASAC is aimed at supporting policy-oriented research into problems that are too large and complex to be solved by a single country or academic discipline. Problems like climate change, for example, that has a global reach and can be resolved only through international cooperation. SASAC’s overarching aim is to build systems analysis capacity, but is moreover aligned to contribute directly towards providing scientific knowledge solutions and evidence-based advice to advance the recently adopted Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s).
During the event, the Minister highlighted the need to address South Africa’s grand challenges related to investment in bio-sciences for public health and food security, a better understanding of and mitigating the impact of global climate change, achieving energy security, optimally exploiting the potential of space science and technology, and using science and technology to fight poverty and exclusion in our society.
“For South Africa to reach the National Development Plan target of training 6 000 PhDs a year, it is necessary to build a cohort of system thinkers who will be able to contribute to attaining this target through scientific interdisciplinary research and capacity development. The SASAC students are part of my agenda to achieve this goal”, the Minister noted. The Minister also highlighted the importance of regional and international collaboration and partnership for South Africa to become a world class producer of knowledge and innovation. Considering the importance of international partnership in science and technology, “no PhD student should graduate without a level of international exposure, in the future”.
Through a video message, Prof Pavel Kabat (Director General and CEO of IIASA) congratulated South Africa on this landmark achievement and again committed IIASA’s support to SASAC and towards capacity building more broadly in SA.
Dr Anne Westin of the International Development Research Centre in Canada, who has an interest in supporting initiatives that build systems and suitability capacity on the continent, also attended the launch.