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Dec 12 2012 10:54AM
SA competes well in world technology, says expert
EXCITING ENDEAVOURS: Juliet Jardine, a medical technologist, shows how it’s done. Picture: Gallo Images
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Sihle Mavuso

South Africa is a proud contributor to the ever advancing world of technology.

This emerged during a wide ranging interview with Dr Happy Sithole, the director of the Centre for High Performance Computing, housed in the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, during her recent visit to Durban.

The cherry on top is that we are also benefitting from our technology as well as advancing it at the same time, said Sithole.

Asked to shed light on the importance of super computers or technology in general other than storing large volumes of state information, Sithole said super computer also helped in medical researches, energy security as well as in weather forecasting among others.

“A number of academic and industrial research projects in South Africa have benefited from the effective deployment of high performance computing technology,” he said.

One breakthrough that can be attributed to our own high performance computers is the research by the University of KwaZulu-Natal that found a possible cure for HIV.

“We can also use our technology, which is obviously boosted by our high performance computers, to repair broken cells during heart operations, as was discussed in the presentation made by Prof Thomas Franz of the University of Cape Town and his associates.

“There are many more exciting new endeavours we are exploring now in collaboration with universities and research organisations within South Africa and overseas,” added Sithole.

“This is what high performance computers are all about.

“They should help us improve our lives and the performance of our industries. This will make us competitive on the global stage.

“Look at Sasol, it is the only company in the world that produces fuels from coal.

“That is our pride and should be helped by developing our technology every year.

“We use our computers to predict the weather and we are also working towards deploying high performance computing beyond just the typical science, engineering and technology research disciplines.”

Finance, economics, arts, humanities and social sciences can also benefit greatly from these cutting-edge computers.

“Though it may look too technical, in the end, ordinary people should benefit from our own technology.”

Revealing the country’s bid to remain relevant and competitive in the global stage of technology, Sithole said two more super computers were coming to South Africa.

He said one would be based in the Karoo region, where the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) was based, while the other computer was in Pretoria.

“The current one which is accessed online is in Cape Town.”

Each computer costs around R10m, he said.

Sithole happily revealed the country had enough talent to keep up with the technology pace of the rest of the world,

He even attributed the country’s progress to doors opening to previously excluded people.

“The good thing about us is that we don’t just have the numbers but we have the quality of technologically advanced people and we should be happy about that.

“We would like to encourage as many undergraduate students and pupils as people to pursue careers in high performance computing and make many exciting and innovative contributions towards the future of South Africa,” concluded Dr Sithole.

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