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News
20 October 2009

TWAS Opens General Conference in Durban

“We must use science to bring development to countries that are most in need”, says Naledi Pandor, South Africa’s Minister of Science and Technology. The Minister made her remarks at the opening ceremony of the 20th General Meeting and 11th General Conference in Durban, South Africa. More than 400 scientists were in attendance.

Science is enjoying a higher profile throughout the developing world, including in Africa, the Minister noted. This has been reflected across the continent, for example, in a re-commitment by Africa’s leaders to spend at least 1% of their gross domestic product on research and development, the creation of a strategic research agenda by the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), and a series of awards introduced by the African Commission to honour and assist scientists.

Nevertheless, the Minister acknowledged that “science and technology has not yet been fully developed in many African countries”. Indeed, as she noted, several countries have yet to set up science and technology ministries. Additional efforts, the Minister observed, must be made to help these countries achieve a higher level of economic well-being through both South-South and South-North cooperation.

Durban, Opening SessionOther speakers at the opening ceremony included Jacob Palis, President of TWAS; Elio Menzione, Ambassador of Italy to South Africa; Ingo Herbert, Deputy Ambassador of Germany to South Africa; Mustafa El Tayeb, Representative of the Director-General of UNESCO; and Robin Crew, President of the Academy of Sciences of South Africa.

The opening session also included the presentation of awards and plaques to the recipients of the 2009 Trieste Science Prize, the 2008 TWAS Prizes, the winners of the TWAS regional prizes honoured for their contributions to building scientific institutions, and the winners of the Abdus Salam Medal, the CNR Rao prize and TWAS Medal Lectures.

At the TWAS General Assembly, held earlier in the morning, the Academy approved the election of 50 new members, which brings the total membership of TWAS to 950. The new members come from 20 countries and include 9 women, the largest number of women ever elected by TWAS.

The Academy’s 20th General Meeting and 11th General will continue through Friday.

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