2015 – 2016 Annual Report

South African Academy of Engineering

18th Annual Report
1 April 2015 – 31 March 2016

R A Pullen

The SAAE was able to consolidate its level of activity during 2015/16 with support of a grant from the Department of Science and Technology (DST) which is acknowledged with thanks. Being accommodated in the Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf) office in Pretoria has also been of great benefit, mainly through increased levels of cooperation and good lines of communication. The SAAE has maintained its participation in the international network of Academies through membership of CAETS and the membership has increased slightly to 186. Strategies adopted some years ago to secure financial sustainability without having to rely solely on members’ subscription fees and on ad hoc donations, are being maintained.

The SA Academy of Engineering has taken steps to inform debates on the many aspects of the economic development of the country in which the engineering perspective can make a difference but progress has been slow.

Executive Committee (Exco)

The Executive Committee (Exco) of the SAAE for the period 2014 – 2016 comprised the following members:
Prof M Alexander
Mr D Botha
Mr T Goba
Prof S Heyns
Prof J Maina
Prof C O’Connor
Mr RPullen
Dr M Shand
Prof K Wall

Fellow RA Pullen served as President of the SAAE for this year and Fellow T Goba was the Deputy President while Fellow M Shand was responsible for the Treasurer portfolio.

All members of the Executive Committee serve on a voluntary basis and their contribution of valuable time during 2015/16 is highly appreciated.

Four Exco Meetings took place during the Financial Year 2015/16 on the following dates:
85th Meeting –14 May 2015
86thMeeting – 9 November 2015
87thMeeting -16 March 2016 and
88th Meeting –26 May 2016.

The Exco meetings took place in Pretoria or in video-conference format with members being in Pretoria and Cape Town. The kind and generous support of Aurecon in this regard is acknowledged. The office accommodation and other support provided by ASSAf in their offices at The Woods, Persequor Technopark, Pretoria, is of great value to the SAAE. This support comes at no direct cost to the SAAE and this gesture from the ASSAf Council is greatly appreciated.

18th Annual General Meeting, 17 June 2015

The 18th Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the SAAE took place in the Senate Hall, Administration Building, University of Pretoria, on 17 June 2015. The attendance at the Annual General Meeting of members was once again most disappointing leading to a careful review of the arrangements for this important event. The Executive Committee sought legal guidance on the matter and amended the relevant Rule to enable the AGM to be conducted electronically (by e mail). In future, commencing in 2016, all members of the Academy will have an opportunity to participate in Annual General Meetings and to exercise their rights as members to participate in the election of new Fellows and in other decisions which are put before the meeting. This was followed by a presentationby Dr Bernie Fanaroff of the 2015 Hendrik van der Bijl Memorial Lecture entitled The Square Kilometre Array Helping to bring South Africa and Africa into the knowledge economy


The following nine new Fellows were elected at the AGM held on 17 June 2015, bringing the membership to 186:

  • WWW Focke
  • CE Herold,
  • GC Howell
  • HF Herring
  • VV Maharaj
  • S Sinha
  • C Trois
  • GPAC van Zijl
  • JA Wium
  • The newly elected Fellows were welcomed by the President and by Members at Induction Dinners held in Johannesburg and Cape Town. The Western Cape Induction Dinner took place on 22 October 2015 at the Kelvin Grove Club and was hosted by the Square Kilometre Array (SKA). Dr Rob Adams, Project Director Elect of the SKA,was the guest speaker. The Gauteng Induction Dinner was hosted by the Faculty of Engineering, University of Johannesburg, on 20 October 2015 at the School of Tourism and Hospitality. The guest speaker was Akiva Beebe, Regional Director: Sub-Saharan Africa, Centre for Creative Leadership.

    SAAE gratefully acknowledges the generous sponsorship of the 2015 Induction Dinners by the University of Johannesburg and the Square Kilometre Array.


    Council of Academies of Engineering and Technological Sciences (CAETS)
    The Indian National Academy of Engineering (INAE) hosted the 23nd CAETS Council Meeting and Conference in the Ashok Hotel, New Delhi, from 12 to 16 October 2015. The SAAE was represented by Fellows Bob Pullen, Trueman Goba and Philip Lloyd. Funding for the SAAE affiliation fee to CAETS and attendance at the annual meetings in Delhi was covered by a grant for that purpose from DST. The CAETS Conference focused on Pathways to Sustainability: Energy, Mobility and Healthcare Engineering. The CAETS Council Sub-committee charged with preparing a Report on the Preparedness of Countries to Move from Traditional Energy Sources to Renewable Sources (with emphasis on transportation and buildings), which is convened by Dr Baldev Raj of the INAE, met after the Conference and submitted a draft statement for consideration of Council. Fellow Philip Lloyd, who represents the SAAE on this Committee, played a prominent role in compiling and editing the Report from the Committee and the Draft Statement.

    The CAETS Council confirmed that the 2016 Meetings would take place in London, UK, in September 2016. CAETS is an observer member of the Inter-Academy Partnership (iap) Council, an international association of Academies of Science from approximately 60 countries around the world. In November 2015 the iap General Assembly and Conference took place in Hermanus, South Africa, hosted by ASSAf. Dame Ann Dowling, President of the Royal Academy (RAE), UK, is the current President of CAETS and was scheduled to attend these meetings. She was unfortunately not able to attend and she requested Bob Pullen, in his capacity as president of the SAAE, to represent CAETS at the iap meetings. This was time well spent and provided opportunities to strengthen relationships for CAETS and for the SAAE.

    Chinese Academy of Engineering (CAE)
    No formal activities were undertaken during the year in association with the Chinese Academy of Engineering with whom the SAAE has a Memorandum of Understanding. The MoU envisages a range of joint activities over a number of years.


    Annual Academy Lecture
    The 2015 Annual Academy Lectures was presented by Professor Maarten de Wit of the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University in Cape Town on 16 October 2014, in Durban on 14 April 2016 and in Midrand on 11 May 2016.The title of the Lecture was The Readiness of South Africa for Fracking.

    Membership participation
    In order to better mobilise the knowledge and expertise of members than has been possible in the past,opportunities for members to participate in informal discussions of possible future activities of the Academy took place in Cape Town on 26 March 2015 and in Pretoria on 1 June 2016. It is reassuring to note that members of the Academy are anxious to contribute their expertise to the analysis and debate on matters of importance to the public and keenly await the opportunity to do so.

    An Engineering Perspective on Food Security in South Africa
    After a long period of planning and consultation a Colloquium on an Engineering Perspective on Food Security in South Africa took place in Pretoria on 27 January 2016. Keynote Presentations were made by Dr Gerhard Backeberg, of the Water Research Commission, and by Fellow Felix Reinders of the Agricultural Research Council, to provide background information to the 30 participants. The participants represented a wide diversity of disciplines and made substantial contributions in the ensuing discussions. A draft Position Paper is being prepared from the record of thee colloquium for consideration by the SAAE as a basis for formulating advice on Food security in South Africa.

    Hendrik van der Bijl Memorial Lecture
    The Hendrik van der Bijl Memeorial Lecture is presented jointly by the SAAE and the University of Pretoria . The 51st lecture in the series was presented by Dr Bernie Fanaroff, Project Director of the Square Kilometre Array, at the University of Pretoria on 17 June 2015. The subject, The square kilometre array – Helping to bring South Africa and Africa into the knowledge economy, generated wide interest and the lecture was very well attended.


    During the Financial Year 2015/16 the total assets of the Academy increased from R222 077 to R232 055, represented primarily by cash in the bank. There are no liabilities to be met. Income during the year amounted to R266 289. The main sources of income were membership fees of R192 500 and donations and sponsorships of R63 549. The main items of expense were the costs associated with being affiliated to CAETS (including attendance at annual CAETS Council meetings) and administration fees. The Academy enjoys generous support from sponsors for functions such as induction dinners and public lectures and the value of this support is accounted for as income from donations. Costs associated with such events are reflected against the relevant expense item to better reflect the level of activity in the organization. The Academy is making every effort to secure external sources of financial support so as to be able to undertake the kind of activities which are necessary to build a sustainable organization of value to South African society. This includes mobilizing the knowledge and experience of its members to formulate independent, evidence-informed advice, usually on policy issues, for transmission to Government and to industry.


    The Academy remains focused on serving the public of South Africa by mobilizing the knowledge, experience and wisdom of its members. The Academy does not directly serve the needs of its members. The role of independent strategic advisor, particularly in the public domain, is rapidly changing throughout the world. This is partly as a consequence of large bodies of reliable data becoming easier to access and to analyse. However, the combined value of the intellectual strength of its members remains the greatest asset of the SAAE. The Academy is seeking new opportunities to embark on really meaningful activities to provide independent, evidence-informed advice on matters of public concern where the engineering fraternity is best informed. No longer can it be expected that advice will be requested; the challenge world-wide is to be ahead of the game and to offer unsolicited advice.

    Fellow RA Pullen PrEng

    2016 Annual General Meeting

    JOHANNESBURGSouth African Academy of Engineering
    17 June 2016


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