Science and technology in South Africa Information

From Wikipedia

The first significant work in astronomy in South Africa was performed by Nicolas Louis de Lacaille between 1751 and 1753, culminating in the measurement of the arc of the southern meridian and a catalog of almost 10 000 southern stars, later published as Coelum Australe Stelliferum. [1] [2]

The Royal Observatory was established at the Cape of Good Hope in 1820 and opened in 1829. [3] Today, with the main observing site having moved from the Cape of Good Hope to a higher site near Sutherland, it is host to the Southern African Large Telescope as well as numerous other South African and international telescopes.

Notable astronomers who have worked in the country include John Herschel who published Results of astronomical observations made during the years 1834, 5, 6, 7, 8, at the Cape of Good Hope in 1847 [4] and David Gill whose work include the Cape Photographic Durchmusterung.

The Karoo Array Telescope (or MeerKAT) is under construction as a pathfinder for the $2 billion Square Kilometer Array (SKA) project, which will be split between sites in South Africa, Australia and New Zealand. South African students and young professionals are involved in the South African SEDS, Students for the Exploration and Development of Space.


Being rich in coal, South Africa has some of the largest coal-fired power stations in the world.

In 1955 Sasol opened the first commercial Coal liquefaction plant. [5] [6] [7]

Commercialization of copper indium gallium sulphur selenide (CIGSSE) thin film solar cell technology was pioneered by Professor Vivian Alberts at the University of Johannesburg. [8]

The South African Solar Challenge is held bi-annually over a distance of 2,500 miles (4,000 km).

As of 2011 the Koeberg Nuclear Power Station is the only commercial nuclear energy station on the African continent.

Kimberley, was the first city in the Southern Hemisphere and in Africa to have electric street lights – first lit on 1 September 1882 . [9]


South African companies hold a considerable number of high value patents related to mining. [10] 10% of the gross domestic product (GDP) of South Africa is generated by mining companies such as De Beers, Anglo American and others. They also produce over 50,000 jobs nationally. Mafube Coal Mine near Middelburg, Mpumalanga is one of the largest and is operated by Anglo Coal, a division of Anglo American. Since grassroots stages in September 2004, this project's estimated net worth is at ZAR$16 Billion Africa Mining IQ lists along with project history.

BHP, one of the foremost mining companies in South Africa as well as Sasol, Xstrata and PetroSA are also in large-scale operations.

Nuclear weapons programme

During the 1960s and 1980s South Africa had been pursuing research into the development of nuclear weapons as well as biological and chemical weapons. South Africa was able to acquire Uranium from native ore deposits, and used aerodynamic nozzle enrichment techniques to produce weapons-grade Uranium. Six bombs were constructed, with one still under construction before the termination of its nuclear weapons programme. It is alleged that South Africa had been collaborating with Israel to develop nuclear weapons and that it possibly detonated one of its weapons over the Indian Ocean in a nuclear weapons test. South Africa dismantled its nuclear weapons programme in 1989, the first nation in the world to do so, and became a signatory of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty in 1991. [11]

South Africa continues to use its surplus of Uranium as part of its nuclear energy programme, supplying the Koeberg Nuclear Power Station and SAFARI-1 research reactors.

Government policy

Despite government efforts to encourage entrepreneurship in biotechnology, information technology and other high technology fields, not many notable groundbreaking companies have been founded in South Africa. [12] It is the expressed objective of the government to transition the economy to be more reliant on high technology, based on the realisation that South Africa cannot compete with Far Eastern economies in manufacturing, nor can the republic rely on its mineral wealth in perpetuity. [13]

South Africa was ranked 61st in the Global Innovation Index in 2021, up from 63rd in 2019. [14] [15] [16] [17]

Important advances made in South Africa

Nobel Laureates

Objects named after South Africans

Research institutes and societies

See also



  1. ^ Theal, George M'Call (1897). History of South Africa under the administration of the Dutch East India Company, 1652 to 1795. London: S. Sonnenschein & Co., Ltd. pp. 74–75.
  2. ^ Nicolas Louis de La Caille, Thomas Henderson, Francis Baily, John Frederick William Herschel (1847). A catalogue of 9766 stars in the southern hemisphere, for the beginning of the year 1750, from the observations of the Abbe de Lacaille made at the Cape of Good Hope in the years 1751 and 1752. London: R. and J.E. Taylor. Retrieved 12 June 2011.{{ cite book}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list ( link)
  3. ^ Clerke, Agnes M. (1893). A popular history of astronomy during the nineteenth century. p. 8.
  4. ^ Results of astronomical observations made during the years 1834, 5, 6, 7, 8, at the Cape of Good Hope. The Smithsonian/NASA Astrophysics Data System. 1847. Bibcode:
  5. ^ a b "Sasol produces 1,5 billion barrels of synthetic fuel from coal in fifty years". SASOL. Retrieved 14 June 2011.
  6. ^ a b "Historical Overview of the South African Chemical Industry: 1896 – 1998". Chemistry International. 3. 21. May 1999. Retrieved 14 June 2011.
  7. ^ "SASOL: COMMITTED TO GTL SINCE 1947". Sasol takes the technological lead. Reed Business Information Limited. 1 May 2006. Retrieved 26 June 2011.
  8. ^ Jäger-Waldau, Arnulf (2008). Joint Research Centre – Renewable Energy Unit – PV Status Report 2008 (PDF). Luxembourg: Office for Official Publications of the European Communities. ISBN  978-92-79-10122-9. Retrieved 26 June 2011.
  9. ^ a b "Timeline of Firsts". Retrieved 11 January 2010.
  10. ^ Kaplan, David (March 2011). "2. The Evidence for and the measurement of South Africa's advanced technological competencies" (PDF). South African mining equipment and related services: Growth, constraints and policy. University of Cape Town. pp. 8–9. ISBN  978-1-77011-236-0. Retrieved 27 June 2011.
  11. ^ Von Wielligh, N. & von Wielligh-Steyn, L. (2015). The Bomb – South Africa’s Nuclear Weapons Programme. Pretoria: Litera.
  12. ^ Short, Jeremy C.; Moss, Todd W.; Lumpkin, G. T. (June 2009). "Research in social entrepreneurship: past contributions and future opportunities". Strategic Entrepreneurship Journal. 3 (2): 161–194. doi: 10.1002/sej.69. ISSN  1932-4391.
  13. ^ Habib, Adam; Padayachee, Vishnu (February 2000). "Economic Policy and Power Relations in South Africa's Transition to Democracy". World Development. 28 (2): 245–263. doi: 10.1016/s0305-750x(99)00130-8. ISSN  0305-750X.
  14. ^ "Global Innovation Index 2021". World Intellectual Property Organization. United Nations. Retrieved 5 March 2022.
  15. ^ "Global Innovation Index 2019". Retrieved 2 September 2021.
  16. ^ "RTD - Item". Retrieved 2 September 2021.
  17. ^ "Global Innovation Index". INSEAD Knowledge. 28 October 2013. Retrieved 2 September 2021.
  18. ^ C. K. Brain; A. Sillent (1 December 1988). "Evidence from the Swartkrans cave for the earliest use of fire". Nature. 336 (6198): 464–466. Bibcode: 1988Natur.336..464B. doi: 10.1038/336464a0. S2CID  4318364.
  19. ^ Rincon, Paul (22 March 2004). "Bones hint at first use of fire". BBC. Retrieved 14 June 2011.
  20. ^ The thermionic vacuum tube and its applications at the Internet Archive
  21. ^ "Dr H J van der Bijl". South African Institute of Electrical Engineers. Retrieved 14 June 2011.
  22. ^ "Sanae – History". South African National Antarctic Programme. Retrieved 15 June 2011.
  23. ^ "SANAE". Polarconservation. Archived from the original on 7 September 2012. Retrieved 15 June 2011.
  24. ^ Dick Lord; Willem Hechter (2000). Vlamgat: The Story of the Mirage F1 in the South African Air Force. 30 Degrees South Publishers. p. 74.
  25. ^ "Speed Record Club". Archived from the original on 11 February 2012. Retrieved 10 February 2012.
  26. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 15 June 2008. Retrieved 3 August 2010.{{ cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title ( link)
  27. ^ "Pantograph testing in South Africa".
  28. ^ "SharkShield Testing". Australia's Marine Direct. Archived from the original on 11 March 2011. Retrieved 27 June 2011.
  29. ^ "Electrical Shark Repellent". KwaZulu-Natal Sharks Board. Archived from the original on 28 May 2010. Retrieved 27 June 2011.
  30. ^ "Background on the SUNSAT Experiment". NASA. Archived from the original on 7 September 2004. Retrieved 13 June 2011.
  31. ^ Brian Fraser & Brian Marsden (December 2000). "Minor Planet (5038) "Overbeek"". Monthly Notes of the Astronomical Society of South Africa. 59 (11&12): 101. Bibcode: 2000MNSSA..59..101.
  32. ^ Farah Abdurahnam & Steve Rosenburg (June 2011). "South Africa's Unsung Rocket Scientist Superhero. Siyabulela Xuza". Beyond Sustainable Quarterly (11): 48–49. Retrieved 12 April 2013.

External links