The Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf) and the South African National Space Agency (SANSA) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to establish joint collaboration activities that ensure policy formulation is scientific and evidence-based, and that science engagement is advanced to increased science awareness in our communities.
This collaboration is a result of both Department of Science and Innovation (DSI) entities endeavouring to increase the reach and impact of their respective work in the country. According to Stanley Maphosa, Manager: International and National Liaison at ASSAf, “policy for science, science for society and science for policy has the potential to transform South Africa into a knowledge economy in line with the new White Paper on Science, Technology and Innovation”. Asanda Sangoni, Manager: Partnerships at SANSA, indicated that the “partnership would contribute to inspiring the next generation of scientists and engineers needed for South Africa to address national challenges and nurture a knowledge economy”.
ASSAf and SANSA agree that valuable contributions could be made by scientists and experts in the drafting of policy briefs and position papers. Both these organisations have access to the top scientific minds in the country. The partnership was sealed by Dr Valanathan Munsami, Chief Executive Officer: SANSA, and Prof Himla Soodyall, ASSAf: Executive Officer, in Pretoria.
“We appreciate this partnership. We have worked with SANSA on a number of activities that we should pull together to reach government, researchers, young scientists and communities to enhance the growth of science in South Africa” said Prof Soodyall.
“Working together through science engagement, research, scientific advice and other associated activities will enable the two entities to contribute significantly to the National Development Plan and to shape the future of our youth” said Dr Munsami.
Through the MoU, the two entities endeavour to support Government at all levels through evidence-based policymaking.
ASSAf was inaugurated in May 1996. It was formed in response to the need for an Academy of Science consonant with the dawn of democracy in South Africa: activist in its mission of using science and scholarship for the benefit of society, with a mandate encompassing all scholarly disciplines that use an open-minded and evidence-based approach to build knowledge. ASSAf thus adopted in its name the term ‘science’ in the singular as reflecting a common way of enquiring rather than an aggregation of different disciplines. Its Members are elected on the basis of a combination of two principal criteria, academic excellence and significant contributions to society. The Parliament of South Africa passed the Academy of Science of South Africa Act (No 67 of 2001), which came into force on 15 May 2002. This made ASSAf the only academy of science in South Africa officially recognised by government and representing the country in the international community of science academies and elsewhere.
SANSA aims to leverage the benefits of space science and technology for socio-economic development, environmental conservation and natural resource management. The consolidation of South Africa’s primary space entities under one banner has brought together a significant range of competencies in satellite applications, satellite engineering and research in space science and technology to play an important role in the country’s future space initiatives. The space agency is also committed to delivering quality services to the local international space sector and growing its Earth observation data management capability, as well as housing a Regional Space Weather Warning Centre and hosts a state-of-the-art ground station.