The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) in South Africa is one of the leading scientific and technology research, development and implementation organisations in Africa. It undertakes directed research and development for socio-economic growth.

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CSIR research impresses SA President

When visiting the CSIR in March 2007, Mr Thabo Mbeki received a hands-on demonstration of CSIR research and development endeavours that improve the quality of life of South Africans. A statement issued by The Presidency stated that "the CSIR visit provides a platform to showcase extraordinary work achieved through joint initiatives with the Department of Science and Technology (DST) and private sector companies, as part of the national effort of achieving sustainable socio-economic development."

In a meeting at the DST preceding the visit, Mr Mbeki was informed of the improvements the science sector required to ensure that it contributed to the socio-economic development of South Africa. Afterwards, Mr Mosibudi Mangena, Minister of Science and Technology, said these improvements included the need to develop more scientists - some 60 000 in five years. He said for that to be realised, more bursaries had to be made available and that tertiary education institutions had to be more aggressive in recruiting Honours, Masters and PhD students.

A major testing facility at the CSIR, the medium speed wind tunnel is one of the best equipped and most sophisticated tunnels of its kind in the country and was selected as the venue for Mr Mbeki's on-site visit. The wind tunnel is a research tool developed to assist with studying the effects of air moving over or around solid objects moving at speeds of between Mach 0.2 to Mach 1.4. Air is blown through a duct equipped with instrumentation where models or geometrical shapes are mounted for study. Various tests are conducted, including force measurement; pressure measurement; flutter and dynamic stability, flow visualisation, two-dimensional aerofoil tests, and high angle of attack tests.

CSIR projects showcased included the application of human language technologies; nanotechnology; building and construction; preserving natural resources and the environment; mining; the hydrogen economy and fuel cells; biosciences; materials and manufacturing; and laser technology.

The CSIR Satellite Application Centre prepared two framed satellite images for Mr Mbeki as a souvenir. The one is an image of the Union Buildings taken by a Quickbird satellite, procured as part of a data set for the Gauteng Department of Housing to monitor and evaluate informal settlements in this province. The other image is a 2001 Ortho photo showing his place of birth, Mbewuleni in the Eastern Cape.

Taking a closer look at the mosquito repellent candle produced in Limpopo following collaboration by traditional healers and bioscientists from the CSIR and with funding from the Department of Science and Technology - Mr Mbeki; CSIR President and CEO Dr Sibusiso Sibisi and Dr Gatsha Mazithulela (far right), Executive Director of CSIR Biosciences
The Meraka Institute's Dr Quentin Williams and Willem van der Walt (seated) demonstrated how an information and communications technology (ICT) device, Notetaker for the blind, uses built-in speech technologies to allow the visually-impaired to benefit from ICT. The notebook allows them access to email, an electronic calculator and audio books
Dr Sharon Biermann of CSIR Built Environment explained to the President and Mr Mosibudi Mangena (centre), Minister of Science and Technology, how advanced spatial planning technologies support the planning instruments for targeting and aligning investment to achieve shared growth and accelerated service delivery. She also showed them the Housing Atlas 2005, which provides a spatial interpretation of current policy as it relates to human settlement and housing locality on a national scale

Contact details:
Hilda Van Rooyen
E-mail: hvrooyen@csir.co.za
Tel:+27 128413638

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