Sasol-NRF Partnership to Bolster SA's Science and Engineering Research Capabilities

Sasol-NRF Partnership to Bolster SA’s Science and Engineering Research Capabilities

The handing over ceremony of the NRF-Sasol Foundation Scholarship Programme agreement and the Sasol’s Research and Technology agreement. (Lrft to right) Ms Noxolo Kahlana, Head: Sasol Foundation; Prof Fulufhelo Nelwamondo, CEO: National Research Foundation (NRF); Dr Thembakazi Mali, Senior Vice-President: Research and Technology, Sasol; and Dr Gansen Pillay, Deputy Chief Executive Officer: Research and Innovation Support and Advancement, NRF

Sasol, through its Foundation and Research & Technology function, concluded two significant cooperation agreements with the National Research Foundation (NRF) to jointly sponsor and support South Africa’s next generation of science and engineering researchers.

“The NRF acknowledges the significant contribution these agreements will make to enhance excellence in research, and especially the significant impact to the transformation of the South African research and education system. These programmes, and our partnership with Sasol, attest to our mutual intent to support and foster a globally engaged cohort of exceptional researchers and students, in collaboration with industry,” stated Dr Fulufhelo Nelwamondo, CEO of the NRF.

The first agreement relates to the joint implementation of the NRF-Sasol Foundation Scholarship Programme, which aims to bolster the number of science researchers from historically disadvantaged universities as well as Black and/or female scientists and those living with disabilities. Since its inception in 2011, the scholarship programme has sponsored over 300 postgraduate students, producing over 500 peer-reviewed research publications.

“What we have learned over the years is that the scale and complexity of the transformation that needs to take place in our country’s education sector is such that no organisation can achieve it alone. We need strategic partnerships and collaborations to effectively address these challenges,” said Charlotte Mokoena, Sasol Executive Vice-President: Human Resources and Stakeholder Relations.

The NRF-Sasol Foundation Scholarship Programme’s target is to sponsor at least 102 candidates over the next three years from 2022, with nearly half of them being Master’s and Doctoral students.

The second agreement is with Sasol’s Research and Technology function and pertains to dedicated industry-academia research collaboration. It aims to provide funding and strategic support such as assistance with research focus and direction, for research in science and engineering areas that can enable South Africa’s energy transition as well as the development of its green economy. The intention is to enhance the research capacity of South African tertiary institutions in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) disciplines, thereby addressing some of the key scarce skill gaps identified by the NRF. Sasol R&T will also provide support in the form of student and research departments mentoring and industrial exposure.

Sasol and the NRF issued a joint call for research proposals in September 2021, which closed at end of October, and is in the process of finalising the awards which will be announced by 13 December.

At the NRF, the two programmes are led by Dr Romilla Maharaj, Executive Director for Human and Infrastructure Capacity Development, and Dr Aldo Stroebel, Executive Director Strategic Partnerships, and Acting Executive Director Knowledge Advancement and Support.

About Sasol

Sasol is a global chemicals and energy company. We harness our knowledge and expertise to integrate sophisticated technologies and processes into world-scale operating facilities. We safely and sustainably source, produce and market a range of high-quality products in 27 countries, creating value for stakeholders.

About the NRF

The National Research Foundation (NRF) is an independent statutory body established in accordance with the National Research Foundation Act. Its mandate is to support and promote research through funding, human resource development and the provision of the necessary research facilities in order to facilitate the creation of knowledge, innovation and development in all fields of science and technology, including indigenous knowledge; supporting and promoting public awareness of, and engagement with, science; and promoting the development and maintenance of the national science system and support of Government priorities, thereby contributing to the improvement of the quality of life of all South Africans.

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