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German - South African Year of Science 2012/2013

German-South African Year of Science 2012/2013

Co-operation in Science, Research and Education


  "Enhancing science partnerships for innovation and sustainable development"

A year-long programme of activities was launched in Cape Town on Monday, 16 April 2012.  This year will be focused on Germany and South Africa’s long-standing and diverse partnership in the fields of research, science and technology, and, to celebrate the achievements and strengthen the partnership between the two countries.  The German-SA Year of Science (YoS) 2012/13 will feature live and virtual activities throughout both countries during this period.



A brief programme for the YoS in SA:
Fri 13–Sun 15 April 2012        DAAD Alumni Conference (by invitation only)
                                                    Venue :  Vineyard Hotel, Cape Town, SA
Mon 16 April 2012                   Official Opening : German-SA Year of Science (YoS) 2012/13
                                                   Venue : CTICC, Cape Town, SA – Host : DST
                                                     -           German Minister : Education and Research:  Prof. Dr Annette Schavan(BMBF)
                                                     -           SA Minister : Science and Technology: Minister Naledi Pandor(DST)
Mon 16 April                             Before Official Opening : TV and Radio interviews
                                                    -           eTV’s Sunrise programme (from 06:00)
                                                    -           SAfm (from 09:00 – 12:00)
 Mon 16–Tue 17 April             Two-day Conference and complementary Exhibition: German-SA Year of Science (YoS) 2012/13 
                                                   "Enhancing science partnerships for innovation and sustainable development"
                                                    Venue : CTICC, Cape Town, SA – Host : DST

                                                   Exhibition:  showcase existing variety of cooperative projects, initiate new partnerships between
                                                                         research institutions, universities and companies

                                                   Venue : CTICC, Cape Town, SA – Host : DST
  Tue 16 April 2013                      Closure - German-SA Year of Science (YoS) 2012/13 in Germany

Sub-themes for the year 2012/13 are climate change, human capital development (both Inkaba yeAfrica’s focii), the bio-economy, urbanisation/mega cities, astronomy, health innovation, social sciences and humanities.
The Year of Science is expected to enhance institutional cooperation and interest young scientists to cooperate with each other.  About 30 x exhibitors will participate from Mon – Tue, 16 – 17 April 2012.


South Africa- Partner in Research and Industry

Says BMBF (German Ministry : Education and Research) :
“SA is one of the BMBF's priority countries in the area of scientific and technological cooperation (STC) throughout the world and the BMBF's most important partner on the African continent. As the strongest economic power in Africa, with extensive raw material resources, SA is also an important partner for German industry. A number of German STC projects in industry-relevant fields are carried out in cooperation with German and SA companies. SA also plays a key role in regional cooperation with the countries of southern Africa and in the implementation of the EU's Africa Strategy.

Germany’s Research cooperation with South Africa

“SA holds the leading position in science, technology and innovation on the African continent and has a relatively well-developed research infrastructure. Accordingly, SA is Germany´s main cooperation partner on research, science and technology in Africa. Common research takes place in the areas of climate change, energy, astronomy, sustainability, biodiversity, geosciences, integrated water resource and sustainable land management, as well as advanced manufacturing”
More Info



Political Framework for Scientific and Technological Cooperation

The establishment of a Bi-national Mixed Commission to promote bilateral cooperation was agreed on the occasion of President Mandela's state visit to Germany in 1996. The initiative was the expression of the interest on both sides in developing a long-term and broad-based partnership between the two countries. The Commission is made up of representatives of the existing six Joint Commissions in the fields of development, defence, environment, economy, science/research, and culture and meets every two to three years.

The Federal Foreign Office holds overall responsibility for the Commission within the Federal Government. The Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), the Federal Ministry of Defence (BMVg), the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU), the Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology (BMWi), the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), and the Cultural Directorate General of the Federal Foreign Office are responsible for the respective Joint Commissions.

The partnership has developed very positively for both sides since the intergovernmental agreement on cooperation in research and technology was signed in 1996. Cooperation covers a wide range of research topics determined at the meetings of the Joint Commissions (JC) between the BMBF and the Department of Science and Technology (DST), which now take place on an annual basis.

The most recent Bi-national Mixed Commission took place in Pretoria in April 2010 and was chaired on the German side by Federal Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle and on the South African side by the Minister of International Relations Maite Nkoana-Mashabane. The Joint Commission on Science/Research met immediately before the meeting of the Bi-national Mixed Commission.

Key Areas of Cooperation

In its specialist programmes, the BMBF mainly supports projects in fields related to sustainability, such as water, climate, the environment, energy, and biodiversity. Antarctic and marine research are also important areas of cooperation.

Germany's scientific and technological cooperation (STC) with South Africaalso includes technological development in areas such as biotechnology, nanotechnology, and production technologies.

In addition, there are numerous bilateral collaborations and projects between universities, universities of applied sciences, and non-university research institutions. There are almost 100 cooperation projects between German and South African institutions of higher education. Several German research institutions, such as the Fraunhofer Society (FhG), are active in the area of applied research. Joint study programmes between South African and German universities receive administrative and financial support from the National Research Foundation (NRF), the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), and third parties.

The Federal Ministry of Education and Research and the Department of Science and Technology, SA signed a joint declaration of intent on sustainability research on the occasion of Minister Schavan's visit in 2008.

This marked the start of a bilateral process of dialogue which began with the "D4S - Dialogue for Sustainability" conference in Bonn in June 2008. The German side was represented by members of the BMBF, BMU, BMZ, and science organizations. Representatives on the South African side were members of the DST, as well as the Department of the Environment, the Department of Minerals and Energy, the National Research Foundation (NRF), as well as representatives of universities and energy organizations. A follow-up conference, this time in South Africa, took place in October 2009 and identified industry-related sustainability and the sustainable use of resources (for example, land use and mining) as future priorities. It was agreed at the Joint Committee meeting in April 2010 to intensify and continue the dialogue until 2012.


Science, Technology and Innovation

Germany is a land of ideas - Europe’s number 1 in terms of patent registrations - and among the most innovative countries worldwide. Internationally renowned institutions have made the country a hub of cutting-edge international science and research. Germany is also a partner in innovation to South Africa, developing research capacity and facilities jointly through exchange programs, research initiatives, academic conferences and high-level delegate visits.


Highlights of bilateral cooperation with SA


  • For the 5th time, the military exercise“GOOD HOPE V”, between the German Armed Forces and theSouth African National Defence Force takes place on the seas and in the skies between Durban and Simon’s Town, SA. The exercise began in Durban on 5 March – 23 March 2012
  • An exhibit of a month-long climate change awareness photo contest opened on 5 March 2012 at the offices of the German development agency GIZ in Pretoria, South Africa. Originally mounted in conjunction with the UN Climate Change Conference in Durban, the contest drew in 75 disadvantaged youths who spent three days with a professional photographer learning about how to best reflect their environmental perspectives in images.  The German Ambassador to South Africa, Horst Freitag and the Country Director of the GIZ, Peter Conze, as well as the winner of the contest, Ngimiselo Masakona, were present at the opening event.



  • On 15 December 2011, three South African researchers were awarded the “Green Talents” sustainability prize by German Parliamentary State Secretary Thomas Rachel. Increasing from one South African winner for 2009, to two winners for 2010, the 2011 results reflect the growing prominence of South African scientific research. The annual international competition is aimed at exceptional young scientists active in the field of sustainable development
  • As the 21st century progresses the consequences of global climate change will have a major impact on people all around the world. Germany is more than aware of this influence and its Foreign Office supported a regional dialogue on climate security in Southern Africa. Programs such as this lend support to its international climate diplomacy efforts at COP17 in November for a legally binding and universal convention to combat climate change
  • A special Climate Train is traversing South Africa, carrying on board a message of climate awareness. From 28 October 28 – 10 December 2011, the train moved west to east and north to south, ending in Durban for the 17th UN climate change conference, COP17. The train and its voyage were developed and supported by Germany's Foreign Office in partnership with the South African Department of Environmental Affairs, Indalo Yethu as well as the  British Council and PRASA
  • On 15 October 2011, the new German Missions portal went online. With the German Embassy Pretoria, South Africa, the Consulate General Cape Town and the German Information Centre Africa will bring you Germany to your living room
  • The Goethe Institute in South Africa reshaped a successful standing film education project to focus on climate change. As part of a number of events in the run-up to the COP17 climate change conference in Durban, the Institut and its partner the Bioscope Independent Cinema screened films for young learners in Johannesburg's inner city to introduce and discuss the concept of climate change. The FILM + SCHOOL series will ran from 12 October – 30 November 2011
  • A conference took place in Kwa-Zulu Natal, SA on 27 September 2011 where the devastating effects of climate change were described alongside the opportunities that exist for a positive environmental future. It was one of seven provincial “Climate Change Summits” that are taking place in South Africa with German support to engage the public in the lead up to COP17 and shape the nation's climate change debate
  • Year-long climate protection fellowships in Germany are being offered to prospective leaders from emerging and developing countries. The International Climate Protection Fellowship Programme is entered its 3rd round, seeking talented individuals working in the field of climate protection and resource conservation in academia, business or administration
  • During the 3rd international 'Wind Power Africa' conference in Cape Town, SA from 9 – 11 May 2011, German engineer Wolfgang Diehl, from the Fraunhofer Institute for Surface Engineering and Thin Films, was recognized as an Extraordinary Professor of Tshwane University of Technology.  In particular, Diehl's work in the global partnership RETECZA-programme was honoured.


  • Support for a film project : biological crusts in various climate zones
    The worldwide significance of biological crusts in various climate zones and the findings gained from research in Australia, Greenland, South Africa, Switzerland and Germany were shown in a popular science film. This film (duration: 52 minutes) was produced in association with ARTE and Hessischer Rundfunk (HR) and screened in spring 2011.


  • The 20th General Assembly of TWAS ((Third World Academy of Sciences) was held in Durban, South Africa from 20 to 23 October and jointly financed by the South African Research Ministry and the BMBF. This event strengthened the role of the academies as independent advisory bodies to the national governments and signaled the BMBF's serious interest in engaging in institutional cooperation with developing countries
  • The second conference on "Innovation for Sustainability in a Changing World" took place in Pretoria, South Africa on 26 and 27 October as part of the Dialogue for Sustainability agreed between the BMBF and the Department of Science and Technology (DST) in South Africa
  • The conference on "Historical Memory" in Berlin from 29 to 31 October extended the range of subjects of German-South African cooperation to include the social sciences and the humanities.

2008 and earlier

  • Federal Minister Annette Schavan visited South Africa and Namibia at the beginning of February 2008. She was accompanied by a high-ranking delegation from science and industry. Members of the delegation included the President of the German Research Association, Prof. Matthias Kleiner, and the President of the Fraunhofer Society, Prof. Hans-Jörg Bullinger. The visit led to a further intensification of cooperation between Germany and South Africa. Minister Schavan visited the Universities of Cape Town, Stellenbosch and Johannesburgas well as various renowned research centres. She also met with high-ranking representatives of German and South African companies. In addition, Minister Schavan and her South African counterpart Mosibudi Mangena signed an agreement on cooperation in sustainability research. Annette Schavan also welcomed the German research vessel Polarstern of the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research (part of the Helmholtz Association), which had just returned to Cape Town after an Antarctic expedition
  • The successful presentation of the Max Planck Society's Science Tunnel took place in Johannesburg, South Africa in July 2007. In addition to funding from the BMBF and the DST (SA), the project also received financial support from German and South African companies. The opening ceremony was attended by Minister Mosibudi Mangena; Harro Adt, who was the German Ambassador at the time; and Prof. Theodor Hänsch, the 2005 Nobel Laureate in Physics, as a guest of honour. A further highlight was the visit to Germany by the SA Research Minister Mangena in August 2007, which included a meeting with Federal Minister Annette Schavan in Berlin.

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