2006-2007 Annual Report

Ninth ANNUAL REPORT

1 APRIL 2006 – 31 MARCH 2007

Dr P W B Kruger
President

Introduction

Since about 1978 the South African construction industry has experienced a decline that lasted about 25 years and which resulted in the loss of engineering skills and capital resources. This trend has turned around significantly in recent years, with strong growth presently in the following areas:

  • Infrastructure spending

    • Soccer World Cup 2010 in South Africa
    • Energy infrastructure

      • Thermal power stations
      • Pebble bed modular reactor (nuclear)
      • Gas to liquid fuels (GTL)
    • Minerals industry

      • Platinum
      • Iron ore
      • Coal
    • Transport

      • Gautrain rapid rail link
      • Rail, harbour and airport infrastructure
      • Road infrastructure
    • Housing, municipal services and sanitation.
    • Water resources development
  • Automotive manufacturing
  • International project involvement

The South African construction and engineering industry is now working at more than full capacity. The situation is exacerbated by

  • tight time constraints on the 2010 Soccer World Cup projects,
  • the shortage of experienced engineering skills and
  • the lack of experienced political leadership in decision making at critical phases of the whole process of funding, planning, design and construction of major projects.

South Africa lags far behind leading countries in the development of human capital in science and engineering. School leavers from these fields are not only too few in number, but are also ill-prepared and suffer from the impact of a shortage of adequate teachers. Corrective action is also required to increase the number of engineers graduating from our universities. A comprehensive and overall master plan (like the “Marshall Plan” after WW II) has to be implemented. All levels have to be addressed. The solution has to coordinate the many worthy efforts of the nation-at-large with the Joint Initiative on Priority Skills Acquisition (JIPSA) which is probably the best home for the total initiative.

A number of SAAE Fellows have been closely involved with some of the many worthy initiatives that are underway. The largely privately sponsored TRAC programme and the work by Fellow Allyson Lawless published in her book NUMBERS AND NEEDS, are good examples. TRAC has made great advances in enhancing science and mathematics teaching in recent years. ( See www.trac.sun.ac.za)

Meetings

Four Exco Meetings took place during the Financial Year 2006/2007: 18 May 2006, 23 August 2006, 16 November 2006 and 21 February 2007. The 9th AGM took place on 18 May 2006.

Membership

The following new Fellows were elected at the AGM held on 18 May 2006

Name

Position

Dr Mark Gavin Alexander

Professor of Civil Engineering, University of Cape town

Coenraad Petrus Bester

CEO, BrainWorks Management (Pty) Ltd

David Benjamin Botha

SAICE Executive Director

Dr Ian Keith Craig

Professor and Group Head, Department of Electrical Engineering, UP

Prof David Glasser

Professor of Chemical Engineering, University of Witwatersrand

Prof Dianne Hildebrand

Professor of Chemical Engineering, University of Witwatersrand

Prof Josua Petrus Meyer

Chair: School of Engineering and Head: Mechanical and Aeronautical Engineering, UP

Mongezi Matthew Ntsokolo

MD Distribution Division, ESKOM

Dr Christine Louise Render

General Manager Process Commercialisation, Sasol

Dr John David Sampson

Managing Director, TTT Africa

Mninawe (Pepe) Silinga

Chief Executive, Coega Development Corporation

Dr Christopher Leonard Vaughan

Professor of Orthopaedics and Biomedical Engineering, University of Virginia

Prof Alex Theo Visser

Professor, Dept of Civil Engineering, UP

Dr Kevin Charles Arthur Wall

Manager, Urban Infrastructure and Management, CSIR

 

New Exco and Office Bearers

Name

Office

PWB Kruger

President and International Affairs

R St Leger

Vice-President and Strategic Planning

R Marcus

Vice-President

C Fauconnier

 

F Hugo

Education and Training

T Goba

Membership

B le Roux

 

J Malherbe

 

B Pullen

 

R Sandenbergh

Treasurer

 

The Induction Dinner in Gauteng took place at the Lotus Room, Gallagher Estate between Pretoria and Johannesburg, on 4 September 2006 and 12 new members were inducted. Fellow Carl Grim, the CEO of Aveng Ltd, was the guest speaker with a very relevant and informative address on “A Vision for the South African Construction Industry”. (See www.saae.co.za for the presentation). SAAE acknowledges with appreciation the sponsorship of the dinner by Aveng Ltd.

The Induction Dinner in the Western Cape took place at Kelvin Grove Club on 12 September 2006 and two new members were inducted. Dr John W Zillman, President of the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering, was the guest speaker, with a very informative address on Australian Academy experience. SAAE gratefully acknowledges the sponsorship of the dinner by the University of Stellenbosch.

 

INTERNATIONAL ACTIVITIES

United States National Academies

On 24 February 2004 SAAE and the South African Academy of Science (ASSAf) were approached by the US Academies to draft a proposal for major funding of a project on the environmental sustainability of cities in the developing world in partnership with the Chinese Academy of Engineering, the Mexican Academy of Engineering and the Academy of Science of Tanzania. The project had a strong environmental focus and funding for it was being considered by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.

This partnership provided a unique and most valuable opportunity to bring world-class science and technology to bear on South African and African urbanization challenges. The project aimed at developing an Academy process for urban sustainability in consultation with local City Councils and Provincial and National Government Departments. Aspects considered inter alia allowed for:

  • the building and cultivation of local and joint studies on alternatives 
  • building local capacity and understanding for the urban sustainability process and goals.

Extensive work by the different National Academies and their associates (see the 8 th SAAE Annual Report) went into the drafting of a final proposal to the Moore Foundation in October 2006. To the surprise of all Academies, the Foundation then decided not to continue funding this very large and costly study. However, the US Academies are still hopeful to obtain the required financial support for this worthy cause from another source.

CAETS

Fellow Bob St. Leger, Vice-President of SAAE, attended the Meeting of the International Council of Engineering and Technological Sciences (CAETS) in Brussels on 1 and 2 June 2006 with an informative conference addressed by eminent speakers on “The Hydrogen Economy: Clean Energy for this Century”. A report on the proceedings at CAETS is available from SAAE and was forwarded to the Department of Science and Technology (DST) that kindly sponsored the cost of attending CAETS.

The main elements of the CAETS Strategy 2006-2010 are:

  • Develop and implement an ongoing advisory/consultative role, with the relevant organs of the United Nations.
  • Increase the number of academies to ensure that CAETS is a fully global organization.(Target is 36 active members.)
  • Join forces with member academies in order to better address global problems.
  • Help member academies to deal more effectively with their own operational and national issues.

The Japanese Academy of Engineering will host the next CAETS Meeting from 23-26 October 2007 in Tokyo with the topic “Environment and Sustainable Growth”

The Indian National Academy of Engineering

Fellow Roelf Sandenbergh, on invitation, presented a paper at the Conference on International Engineering Education organized by the Indian National Academy of Engineering under the banner of CAETS at the Indian Institute of Technology in Madras in March 2007. The SAAE President also accepted the invitation to serve on the International Advisory Committee of the Conference.

Bi-Lateral Seminar: RSA-China on Co-operation on SETMI

The SAAE President and Fellow Braam le Roux acted as Chairpersons for one day at this seminar that took place from 26-27 September 2006 at the Tshwane University of Technology. The seminar was attended by a Trade Delegation from China and was structured as a technology marketing exchange forum for trade between RSA and the PRC.

NACI-Report to the Organization of Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)

At the request of NACI, SAAE was represented by Fellows Bingle Kruger, Jan Malherbe and Coen Bester in a fruitful discussion with the OECD Delegation on its programme of National Innovation Systems Peer Review based on the Background Report of the Minister of Science and Technology. The Final Report of the OECD was expected early in 2007.

SA National Strategy for Sustainable Development (NSSD)

The Department of Environmentl Affairs and the Tourism has been mandated by the Cabinet to develop a National Strategy for Sustainable Development (NSSD) for South Africa. Prof Mark Swilling formed part of a team that compiled a Draft Integrated Strategy Document for Review dated 21 April 2006. He requested SAAE to formally comment on the Draft Document. These comments were well received and contributed to important changes in the Final Document. The main SAAE advisors were Tessa McKay, Jeremy Bosch and Fellows Bob Pullen, Arthur Clayton, Kevin Wall and Dawie Botha.

 

LOCAL ACTIVITIES

The SAAE Draft Bill has been finalized in meetings between SAAE and DST, but takes much longer to go through the process of enactment than was anticipated. It may still be enacted later in 2007. In March 2007 the DST consulted all the relevant Engineering Institutions on the contents of the Draft Bill. The closing date for comment was 7 April 2007.

The Annual Hendrik van der Bijl Memorial Lecture 2006 was presented at the University of Pretoria on 18 May by Mr. Jaco Kriek, CEO of PBMR Pty Ltd on the topic “Why PBMR will be the first successful commercial Generation IV Reactor” The address presented the electricity needs, opportunities and nuclear reactor challenges facing South Africa. The presentation was very well received and is available on the SAAE website www.saae.co.za

Technology Top 100 Awards (TT100), November 2006. SAAE, as an official sponsor of the TT100 Program, provides a means of encouraging innovative technological development which is necessary for South Africa to compete in the global economy. Thirteen more SAAE Fellows volunteered to assist in the adjudication process than in the previous year.

GENERAL

Worldwide Academies of Engineering are playing an increasing supportive and consultative role working in concert with governments, business and academia. In most developed and developing nations, Academies of Engineering are deemed to be so important that they report directly to the office of the Head of State.  As South Africa braces itself to face the biggest challenge in its history, the South African Academy of Engineering is steadfast in its belief that it is well poised to meet its stated objective in serving the best interests of the country.   Time is not on our side. The challenges facing the country in terms of infrastructure and economic growth in the face of a critical skills shortage is such that the Academy needs to be in a position to harness its resources and support the ASGISA initiative.  To achieve these goals, two critical elements need to be in place: the full support of government in terms of speeding up the process in getting the new SAAE Act in place and the support of the business community.  The latter is in place, key business leaders who are distinguished technology leaders as well, are Fellows of the Academy.  Now government needs to play its role in accelerating the legislative process.  

 

2007 Annual General Meeting

South African Academy of Engineering

30 May 2007