Pre-Round 1 Sessions2018-11-26T11:12:13+02:00

Pre-Round 1

13 December 2018 | 6:00-8:30

Science diplomacy in practice – Bridging the European and African continents

Ms Sakina Kamwendo
HE Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane
Dr Daphne Bitalo
Dr Flavia Schlegel
Mr Frithjof A. Maennel
Prof Mauro Giacca

Dr Daphne Bitalo

Daphne is a geneticist with the National Coffee Research Institute in Uganda. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Molecular Biology and Biotechnology, an Honour’s degree in Genetics, a Master’s and PhD in Genetics; all of which she attained at Stellenbosch University in South Africa.

Her interests are aligned with effecting genetics in conserving biodiversity for informed national policy and regional diplomacy; as was displayed in her study on the population dynamics of demersal sharks across the Southern Hemisphere. Currently, she is tasked with conserving coffee biodiversity in Uganda, and generate policies for exchange of coffee germplasm across Eastern Africa.

Daphne is one of the fresh graduates of the ASSAF-TWAS-AAAS regional training workshop on science diplomacy recently held in Pretoria in May 2018 and is also a member of the Uganda National Young Academy.

Dr Flavia Schlegel

Flavia Schlegel took up her duties as Assistant Director-General for the Natural Sciences at UNESCO on 1 October 2014.

She is the holder of a Medical Doctorate and a Master’s Degree in Organizational Development.

Flavia Schlegel joined the Swiss Federal Office of Public Health in September 1997, as Director of the AIDS Section. She then became Director of the Health Policy, Research and Education Division. From 2002 to 2004, Ms Schlegel served for the Swiss State Secretariat for Education and Research as Science Counselor for the United States and Canada with the Embassy of Switzerland in Washington D.C. Ms Schlegel returned in October 2004 to the Swiss Federal Office of Public Health taking up the position of Vice-Director, Head of the Public Health Directorate and Member of the Executive Board. In 2008, she was appointed Director of Swissnex China and Vice-Consul General based in Shanghai (China).

During her four-year period in Shanghai, Flavia Schlegel established Swissnex in China; a transdisciplinary institute for Science, Technology, Innovation and Culture, funded by public-private partnership.

HE Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane

Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane is currently the Minister of Science and Technology and a member of the National Executive Council of the African National Congress. Before this portfolio, she served as a Minister in two portfolios, Energy and Communications, respectively.

Mmamoloko started her career as a community developer in non-governmental organizations and subsequently joined the banking sector as a Skills development specialist. When she joined the public sector,she started at the National Health Laboratory Services as a skills development manager and then she was recruited to become a director in the office of the President of South Africa.

In 2009, she became a Member of Parliament of South Africa and assumed several roles including serving as the parliamentary advisor to the then Deputy President of South Africa, Mr Kgalema Motlanthe, then later as a Chairperson of the Portfolio committee on Telecommunications and Postal services.

She holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree from Vista University, a postgraduate diploma in project management from Damelin college and a Masters degree in Management in Public and Development Management from the University of the Witwatersrand.

Mr Frithjof A.Maennel

Frithiof is Ministerialdirigent (Deputy Director General), studied Law at the Universities of Bonn and Munich. In 1992 he joined the Federal Ministry for Research and Technology, today’s Federal Ministry of Education and Research, where he held various positions. From 1996 to 2005 he worked in the “Internal Market” and the “Information Society” Directorates-General at the European Commission in Brussels and was involved in particular in shaping the legal framework for the information society. He left Brussels to become Head of the “Patent Policy, Inventor Promotion” Division at the Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology and was subsequently appointed Head of the “Strategy” Division at the Federal Ministry of Education and Research in 2007, remaining in this position until March 2015. He was appointed Head of the Directorate for International Cooperation in Education and Research at the Federal Ministry of Education and Research in April 2015.

Ms Sakina Kamwendo

Sakina Kamwendo is the award winning host of METRO FM Talk with Sakina which was voted the Best News & Actuality Show at the MTN Radio Awards 2013 and 2014.

Sakina’s radio journey started at Radio Eldos, a community station in Eldorado Park. Her big break came when Talk Radio 702 allowed her to screen calls for the overnight show but soon progressed to producing weekend and then early breakfast shows while still holding down a fulltime job at the Maths Centre. When she was offered the position as Traffic Reporter on the David O’Sullivan Show, she decided to quit Maths Centre to concentrate on broadcasting full time.

In addition to traffic, Sakina also hosted a graveyard slot at 702 and management showed confidence in her ability by asking her to “stand in” on other shows and produce the John Robbie Show. Whilst she loved working at 702, Sakina had greater on-air aspirations. With this in mind, Sakina moved to the SABC/ SAfm, where she now hosts “AM Live” as well as the SABC’s #ForumAt8.
The session will be broadcasted live on Morning Life South Africa.

Prof Mauro Giacca

Prof. Mauro Giacca

Mauro Giacca, MD PhD, is the Director-General of the International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (ICGEB), an international organization in the United Nations system for advanced research and education, with laboratories in Trieste, Italy, New Delhi, India and Cape Town, South Africa ( He is Full Professor of Molecular Biology at the University of Trieste. His research interest focuses on the development of novel biotherapeutics for cardiovascular disorders, with particular reference to growth factors and microRNAs that induce cardiac regeneration after myocardial infarction. He also maintains a strong interest in the molecular biology of HIV-1 infection.He is the President Elect of the International Society for Heart Research (ISHR), European Section and serves on the Boards of numerous scientific organizations internationally.He has published over 320 papers in peer-reviewed, international journals. He is also active in promoting scientific outreach for the general public. At its laboratories in Cape Town, the ICGEB runs research programmes at the forefront of international scientific excellence on topics of particular relevance to sub-Saharan Africa, in infectious diseases (HIV/AIDS, malaria, TB), non-communicable diseases (cancer) and the regulation of GM products.


The Science Forum South Africa is an annual event with high level representation from the scientific communities in South Africa and globally. The 2015 event was attended by nearly 2000 delegates with an ever increasing number of visitors in the following editions of the Forum. This year, the Embassies of Switzerland, Italy and Germany are organizing a scientific session on Science diplomacy in which the South African Minister of Science and Technology is also invited as a panellist. The session will be broadcasted live on the national TV SABC during the Morning Live show and will reach approximately 1 million viewers.

Italy, Germany and Switzerland are among the “big” players of European research. In the previous editions of the Forum, the Embassies organized sessions with a focus on International networks for Public Health Advancement (2015), Climate Change (2016) and Food security in urban areas (2017). This year’s session will focus on their vision on Science diplomacy and Innovation diplomacy, taking as practical examples some major cooperation sectors with South Africa and the African continent: Health, Biotechnologies and Innovation.


Science diplomacy in practice – Bridging the European and African continents

13 December 2018 from 06h00 – 09h00

In the last few decades, science and technology have had an ever increasing role in foreign policy, defining and consolidating international relations, cooperation agendas and entrepreneurial partnerships between countries. One of the latest ongoing examples of multilateral scientific cooperation, expression of science diplomacy at its best, is the Square Kilometre Array (SKA), a ground-braking radio-astronomical project centred in Africa that is paving the road to the development of African science and technological infrastructures. Several nations have established tools to boost bilateral and multilateral scientific cooperation to develop projects, common high-tech research and ease joint technology transfer and innovation. Germany, Italy and Switzerland are no exception.

The session will focus on practical examples of science diplomacy with South Africa and the African continent: health innovation, where Germany is investing 50 million Euros in five years to establish networks in Sub-Saharan Africa, bio-tech and genetic engineering, in which Italy is steadily investing around 10 million Euros per year to support the activities of the International Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology and Innovation, where Switzerland collaborates with South Africa in supporting South African and Swiss entrepreneurs through joint initiatives with a vision of enhancing the knowledge economy.

The discussion will also emphasize the “innovation diplomacy” aspect of cooperation, considering the role of science, technology and innovation collaborations in mutually beneficial economic growth

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