Scifest Africa 2021: Virtual Official Opening Ceremony

Dr Phil Mjwara, Prof Janice Limson and Prof Tshilidzi Marwala

  • Duration: 120min
  • Language: English
  • Ages: All Ages
  • Date: October 18, 2021 20:00
  • Recorded: Live session with recording available afterwards
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Join Scifest Africa, South Africa’s National Science Festival for the Silver Jubilee Virtual Official Opening Ceremony, opened by Dr Phil Mjwara, the Director-General of the Department of Science and Innovation The Brian Wilmot Lecture “Harnessing Creativity, Innovation and Emerging Technologies to Address the Impact of COVID-19 in Africa will be presented by Prof Tshilidzi Marwala, with a Q&A to follow. Professor Janice Limson will also give a talk “Beyond 25 years – the Future of Science Festivals in Africa.”


Director General Dr Phil Mjwara


Dr Philemon Mjwara holds a BSc, MSc and PhD from the University of the Witwatersrand. 

His academic career includes serving as professor of Science and Technology Policy at the University of Pretoria, and Physics lectureships at the universities of the Witwatersrand, South Africa and Fort Hare. Dr Mjwara has published and presented numerous papers on physics, technology analysis and technology foresight processes.

His professional experience includes working as a director in the former Department of Arts, Culture, Science and Technology, serving on the National Advisory Council On Innovation (NACI) and Group Executive for Research and Development and Strategic Human Capital Development at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR).

As part of his many contributions, Dr Mjwara led a team that conducted the South African Technology Foresight project. The outputs of the project were presented to President Thabo Mbeki in 2000. His project approach led to a number of institutions from other parts of the world inviting the core team members to share their knowledge at conferences in Japan, Austria and Hungary.He was also asked to participate in the development of scenarios for South Africa for the years 2004 to 2014. This was run from the office of the President. 

Dr Mjwara currently serves as the Director General of the Department of Science and Innovation (DSI), a position he has held since April 2006. His responsibilities include the development and implementation of South Africa’sscience, technology and innovation policy. 

He also serves on various advisory councils and review boards, including the Board of the World of Platinum of South Africa and the Square Kilometre Array Organisation.


Prof Janice Limson, Ph.D.

Janice Limson is a Professor of Biotechnology at Rhodes University in Makhanda, South Africa. She holds the Department of Science and Innovation–National Research Foundation South African Research Chair in Biotechnology Innovation and Engagement and serves as Director of the Biotechnology Innovation Centre (RUBIC) at Rhodes. Her research focuses on the development of products and processes with direct societal impact. This includes the areas of water treatment and bioremediation, and the development of rapid diagnostic tests for healthcare management in remote areas.

Through her work as Chair, she studies how direct science engagement with communities regarding research and technology, holds multiple benefits for communities, science students, and ultimately for the successful development and deployment of beneficial products. Funded by UNICEF, her team has recently focused on developing diagnostic tests that may provide early warnings for high-risk pregnancies in remote areas. She is a former recipient of a Highway Africa New Media Award for Journalism, the National Science and Technology Forum Award for Outstanding Contribution to science, engineering, and technology in South Africa, and has twice been featured as one of South Africa’s Mail & Guardian Young Leaders. In 2019, she received a National Intellectual Property Management Office award for being amongst the top intellectual property creators inhigher education in South Africa. 

She has been inducted into the Academy of Science of South Africa, serves as Associate Editor of IEEE Sensors and on several boards including Food and Trees of Africa and Scifest Africa.


Prof Tshilidzi Marwala

Professor Tshilidzi Marwala is Vice-Chancellor of the University of Johannesburg. He was a Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Dean of Engineering at the University of Johannesburg. He was a full Professor of Electrical Engineering, the Carl and Emily Fuchs Chair of Systems and Control Engineering as well as the South Africa Chair of Systems Engineering all at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg. Before this, he was an executive assistant to the technical director at the South African Breweries. 

 He holds a BSc in Mechanical Engineering (magna cum laude) from Case Western Reserve University, a Master of Mechanical Engineering from University of Pretoria, PhD in Engineering from University of Cambridge and was a post-doctoral associate at Imperial College. His research interests include applications of artificial intelligence to engineering, computer science, finance and medicine. 

 He has extensive track record in human capacity development having supervised 47 Masters and 31 PhD graduates to completion. Some of these students have proceeded with their doctoral and post-doctoral studies at leading universities such as Harvard, Rutgers, Purdue, Oxford, Cambridge, British Columbia and Concordia. 

 He has published 20 books, over 300 papers in journals, proceedings and book chapters and holds three international patents. He was an associate editor of the International Journal of Systems Science (Taylor and Francis Publishers). Marwala is a registered professional engineer in South Africa, a Fellow of The Academy of Sciences for the Developing World, Academy of Science of South Africa, South African Academy of Engineering and a distinguished member of the Association for Computing Machinery. 

He has received more than 45 awards including the Order of Mapungubwe from the South African Government and the President’s Award from the National Research Foundation. 

 He is a Deputy Chair of the Presidential Commission on the Fourth Industrial Revolution, a board member of Nebank and a Trustee of the Nelson Mandela Foundation.