February 2006
International Cyberinfrastructure: Activities Around the Globe
Rob Adam, Director General's Office - Department of Science and Technology, Pretoria
Cheryl de la Rey, Deputy Vice-Chancellor's Office, Research & Innovation - University of Cape Town
Kevin J. Naidoo, Computational Chemistry, Department of Chemistry - University of Cape Town
Daya Reddy, Centre for Research in Computational & Applied Mechanics - University of Cape Town

3. An African Renaissance in Technology and Development

The developments within South Africa are aligned with initiatives to stimulate research, development and technology across the African continent. A 'Plan for Collective Action' was adopted by African Ministers of Science and Technology in Dakar in November 2005, in a meeting organized jointly by New Partnership for Africa's Development (Nepad)2 and the African Union (AU). This Plan was developed 'bottom-up' by engaging in consultations with scientists and institutions cross all five regions of the continent. It lays out programmatic initiatives and projects that are crucial to enable Africa to mobilize and strengthen its capacities to engage effectively in scientific and technological development. The Plan contains concrete actions that will build the continent's research base and stimulate innovations to fight poverty, increase economic competitiveness and promote human development in general. The Plan complements a series of AU and NEPAD programmes for such areas as agriculture, environment, infrastructure, industrialization, education and energy.

The three conceptual pillars of the 'Plan for Collective Action' are capacity building, knowledge production, and technological innovation. The Plan has twelve sub-programmes based on specific content areas, one of which is Information and Communications Technology. The ICT sub-programme will aim at establishing a continental research network on ICTs. It will bring together leading universities and research centres to design and implement projects that generate software and use with African content. Its specific goals will be to:

  • stimulate technical change and innovation in ICTs
  • build skills in local software research and development; and
  • build knowledge of Open Source Software and promote its application in education, health and conduct of science.

Currently, a significant retarding factor is the exorbitant price of bandwidth on the African continent. Fortunately steps are now being taken to address this, with particular attention being given to reasonably priced connections to Europe and from there to other continents. Multinational negotiations regarding the laying of a cable up the east coast of Africa (the so-called Eassy cable) are far advanced.

4. The ICT Roadmap and the Meraka Institute3

Following President Mbeki's directive, the Meraka Institute was launched in May 2005. This is a public/private partnership seeking to promote co-operation between universities, industry and government on ICT learning, research, development and innovation informed by practical, needs-based challenges. The mandate of the Institute, which has been established as a national research centre within the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, is to:

  1. undertake world-class, needs-based basic research in the ICT field leading to development and innovation to the benefit of South Africa and the region.
  2. develop ICT knowledge workers with sound qualifications.
  3. establish SA as a highly competent international ICT player.
  4. attract leading ICT knowledge workers from various parts of the world.
  5. be the champion, voice, parent and mentor of an emergent South African ICT industry that is regionally relevant and globally competitive.

The Meraka Institute is guided by the fundamental principle that people are the prime basis for success in this knowledge intensive area. To date a number of areas of competency have been earmarked for inclusion in the Meraka Insititute such as ICT for Disability, Human Language Technology, and an Open Source Centre. The CHPC is a major division within the Meraka Institute.

Pages: 1 2 3 4

Reference this article
Adam, R., de la Rey, C., Naidoo, K., Reddy, D. "High Performance Computing in South Africa: Computing in Support of African Development," CTWatch Quarterly, Volume 2, Number 1, February 2006. http://www.ctwatch.org/quarterly/articles/2006/02/high-performance-computing-in-south-africa-computing-in-support-of-african-development/

Any opinions expressed on this site belong to their respective authors and are not necessarily shared by the sponsoring institutions or the National Science Foundation (NSF).

Any trademarks or trade names, registered or otherwise, that appear on this site are the property of their respective owners and, unless noted, do not represent endorsement by the editors, publishers, sponsoring institutions, the National Science Foundation, or any other member of the CTWatch team.

No guarantee is granted by CTWatch that information appearing in articles published by the Quarterly or appearing in the Blog is complete or accurate. Information on this site is not intended for commercial purposes.