Forging a new partnership with South Africa


The Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) has strengthened its ties with scientific peers in South Africa.

STFC has entered into an agreement with the National Research Foundation (NRF), setting out the ways in which the two organisations will work together to pursue scientific research.

Reinforcing research

Both nations hope to reinforce their respective research programmes in a variety of ways, including:

  • joint educational training activities
  • joint research programmes
  • the exchange and placement of researchers, technicians and postgraduate students
  • the design, operation and impact evaluation of research infrastructures
  • knowledge and expertise sharing.

Dr Clifford Nxomani, Deputy CEO of the NRF’s National Research Infrastructure Platforms, spearheaded the initiative, with the agreement being signed by:

  • Professor Mark Thomson, Executive Chair of STFC
  • Dr Fulufhelo Nelwamondo, CEO of the NRF.

The UK and South Africa already enjoy a close relationship as host countries of the highly-anticipated Square Kilometre Array telescope.

Breaking new ground

Professor Mark Thomson said:

Despite the challenges faced by the scientific community around the world due to the pandemic, we continue to reach across the globe and look to forge stronger bonds with our scientific peers, in the hopes of breaking new ground in research.

By agreeing to share goals and resources, we will pave the way for innovative new research and academic progress.

I look forward to seeing the relationship strengthen between our organisations as we work together to implement the aims set out in this memorandum of understanding.

In the first joint endeavour in the five-year agreement, the two organisations will host a joint workshop at the Global Research Council meeting next month.

Further information

The UK and South Africa are working together as part of the international team behind the Square Kilometre Array Telescope. Pictured is the almost fully assembled SKA-MPI prototype dish on the South African site. SKA-MPI is funded by the Max Planck Institute for Radioastronomy (MPIfR). In this image, the dish is missing its central panel and feed indexer.

Top image:  SARAO / Angus Flowers

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