Science Forum South Africa 2017

The OAD participated in the 2017 Science Forum South Africa (SFSA) in Pretoria, South Africa. SFSA aims to create a platform for a vibrant debate on the role of science, technology and innovation in society and promote international STI partnerships. The third SFSA was held from 7 – 8 December 2017 at the CSIR International Convention Centre in Pretoria.

In addition to an exhibit at SFSA, the OAD, represented by Vanessa McBride and Kevin Govender, participated in a number of panel discussions.

Panel discussion on Astronomy for Development – Discussion on Inclusion

Moderator: Kevin Govender, OAD
Panel: Dr Wanda Diaz Merced, OAD; Mr Thulani Jili, University of Zululand; Dr Vanessa McBride, OAD; Dr Daniel Nyanganyura, International Council for Science

Astronomy links research and education, cutting-edge technology and cultural heritage in many societies, and is therefore a good framework for investigating how blue-sky science and the skills of such scientists can contribute to socio-economic development. This sessions highlighted three talking points focused on inclusion of society in astronomy: inclusion of the visually impaired, geographical inclusion in previously disadvantaged areas, and cultural inclusion in science.

Recorded session available at:

Panel discussion on Big Science, Human Development, and the Square Kilometer Array Telescope

Moderator: Kevin Govender, OAD
Panel: Dr Rob Adam, Square Kilometre Array: Africa, Prof Brian Armstrong, University of the Witwatersrand; Prof Phil Diamond, SKA; Dr Michael Gastrow, Human Science Research Council; Dr Khotso Mokhele, Department of Science and Technology

The Square Kilometre Array (SKA) telescope is arguably South Africa’s flagship science project. It has had a significant impact on economic development, and human development more broadly. At the same time, all big science projects have their costs, whether direct financial costs, or opportunity costs to their host publics. This panel reflected on the relationship between the SKA and human development, drawing on the experiences and perceptions of members of the SKA organisation itself.

Panel discussion on Towards the UN SDGs: Sustainable Astronomy Tourism For Sustainable Development

Moderator: Peter Ndoro, Broadcast Media, Multimedia and Film
Panel: Prof Phil Diamond SKA; Ms Anja Fourie, South African Radio Astronomy Observatory; Mr Kevin Govender, OAD; Dr David Morris, McGregor Museum
South Africa has strategic advantages in astronomy that can be leveraged for public relations and tourism for the country. Sustainable astronomy tourism has the potential to contribute to the eradication of poverty and sustainable development in South Africa. This session aimed to ignite conversations about how astronomy can strengthen the South Africa brand and tourism; who should drive astronomy tourism in South Africa; how South Africa can learn from best practice in sustainable tourism and leap-frog the implementation process; and what the main priorities should be for authorities to help develop, innovate and implement sustainable astronomy tourism in South Africa.