Press Release No Embargo Thursday 31 July 2013

Professor Kader Asmal and Dr Heinrich Badenhorst scoop inaugural SAWEF Awards

Nedbank SAWEF Scholarship

Photo credits: Nedbank SAWEF Scholarship from left to right: Dr Heinrich Badenhorst, Mr Mike Brown (CEO, Nedbank), Deputy Minister of Water Affairs Rejoice Mabudafhasi, Mr Anthony Turton

Yesterday, at the inaugural South African Water, Energy & Food Forum (SAWEF) Gala Awards hosted at Montecasino in Fourways, long-time struggle stalwart and fiercely independent academic, Professor Kader Asmal, was posthumously awarded the first ever SAWEF Order of Leadership by Deputy Minister of Water Affairs, Ms Rejoice Mabudafhasi, and SAWEF co-founder and noted environmentalist Professor Anthony Turton. The award was received on behalf of the family by  professor Asmal’s nephew, Ebrahim Asmal.

Dep Min Rejoice Mabudahfasi and Ebrahim Asmal

Speaking at the awards ceremony Deputy Minister Mabudafhasi lauded the late professor Asmal for his commitment to pioneering democratic South Africa’s water legislation and implored her colleagues to build on the solid foundations that had been put in place.

Professor Turton said Asmal’s legacy lived on through the National Water Act, which was the ”first substantial piece of legislation to be brought to bear in the post-Apartheid history, containing world class concepts such as environmental flows and the democratization of the process of water resource allocation through Catchment Management Agencies (CMA’s)”.

These self-same CMA’s were the subject of much discussion at the third SAWEF held early in the day at the Montecasino Ballroom.

Continuing the citation Turton reiterated the SAWEF Executives belief that “Kader Asmal is a fitting candidate for their inaugural Leadership Award, because he was a manifestation of the core values that we believe are necessary in our young democracy as we grapple with the complexities of finding viable solutions to the wicked and enduring problems associated with the water-energy-food nexus.

His ability  to remain loyal to his party while still retaining the moral integrity of a free-thinking agent is a key element of his unique make up. His ability to drive change when many resist, through a combination of vision, dogged courage and sheer tenacity, constitutes what we consider to be a key success factor of leadership. In short, the SAWEF Executive is happy to hold up Kader Asmal as an example of the kind of leadership we should encourage in our young democracy.”

Nedbank SAWEF Scholarship

Nedbank CEO Mike Brown, together with Deputy Minister Mabudafhasi, jointly handed over a cheque for a R150 000 to Dr Heinrich Badenhorst, for winning the Nedbank SAWEF Scholarship for Water-Energy-Food Nexus Research.

Brown commented: “Through the provision of this scholarship we are pleased to be playing an active role in the facilitation of new learning and research and supporting the SAWEF philosophy of dialogue leading to action.”

Dr Badenhorst works fulltime at the University of Pretoria’s Chemical Engineering Department, which he joined after completing his Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering, working on nuclear graphite materials.

His project, entitled Carbon and Graphite for Solar Energy Capture, uniquely captures the innovative and out-of-the box thinking called for when confronting multifaceted challenges such as those contained in the convergence areas of the nexus.

Dr Badenhorst’s research hinges on tweaking the design and function of parabolic troughs used in concentrated solar power. These parabolic mirrors focus the solar energy onto a central receiver. Traditionally these are comprised of an oil-filled glass tube with an outer absorbent coating.

Dr Badenhorst explains:

“Carbon black is an excellent absorber of electromagnetic radiation and is employed in stealth planes to avoid radar detection. However, carbon black has a very poor thermal conductivity. Our innovative solution to this is to combine carbon black and highly conductive natural graphite powder. This composite can

be directly placed in the central receiver to collect and conduct the solar energy to a storage unit, like a molten salt container. Both carbon black and graphite are highly inert and have low thermal expansion, thus making them ideal for this application. This setup would negate the necessity for high temperature and high pressure oils and accompanying pumps, seals, etc.”

Dr Badenhorst emerged victorious after a call-to-entry campaign launched in February this year followed by a gruelling month-long screening process, conducted by the Water Research Commission, delivered a short-list whittled down to three applicants.

The top three applicants had their research proposals evaluated by an independent adjudication panel convened by Professor Anthony Turton, and including Dr Ana Cascao, Stockholm International Water Institute, Ms Mpetjane Kgole, Eskom, Mr Dhesigen Naidoo, CEO of the Water Research Commission and Dr Marco Lotz, Nedbank’s Sustainability Carbon Specialist.

The panel’s decision, based on a points system compiled from independent adjudication sheets, a face-to-face interview with each finalist and grading of their final presentation at SAWEF 2013, delivered a unanimous verdict.

However, the other two finalists, Dr Daniela Bezuidenhout also at the University of Pretoria and Rudi Scheepers of UCT, both presented research proposals indicative of a healthy well of scientific talent residing in South African universities and research institutions and will no doubt achieve unbridled success in their own right.


Notes to Editors

About the South African Water, Energy & Food Forum

The SA Water, Energy & Food Forum was co-founded in 2009 by Gleason Publications and Touchstone resources.

It is a forum designed to raise issues of national strategic significance with regard to the water-energy-food security nexus, to be debated and engaged with by credible individuals, each with the deep desire to find permanent and sincere solutions.

The most recent edition of SAWEF took place at the Montecasino Ballroom in Fourways Johannesburg on July 30th, 2013 and was sponsored by Eskom, Exxaro Resources and Nedbank.


Professor Anthony Turton



About the Nedbank SAWEF Scholarship

The South African Water, Energy & Food Forum (SAWEF) and South Africa’s leading green bank, Nedbank, collaborated to present the inaugural Nedbank SAWEF Scholarship for Water-Energy-Food Nexus Research.

Nedbank is providing a R150 000 financial underpin to fund the Scholarship, designed specifically to support the winning applicants’ further research into the nexus challenges posed by an increasingly resource-constrained globe and country.

Winning the Scholarship will form an important milestone in the professional progression of the successful applicant. It will open access to global thinking on the nexus challenges and that thinking will, in turn, provide new opportunities and scope for the applicant’s development within South Africa and possibly develop into world-leading science.

Why the nexus?

Our world is vastly more interconnected and interdependent than at any other time. South Africa needs scholars who are multidisciplinary in their approach in order to confront the challenges of this new world. Such scholars will gain an advantage in securing research grants, consultancy roles and be at the forefront of new thinking in the 21st century.

Nowhere is this nexus of interconnectedness more evident than in the water, energy and food security sectors. These three sectors – water security, energy security and food security – are inextricably linked, and actions in one area more often than not have impacts in one or both of the others.

These linkages have always been present, but as the world population hurtles towards eight billion with increasing demands for basic services and growing desires for higher living standards, the need for more conscious stewardship of the vital resources required to achieve those services and desires has become both more obvious and urgent

This competition was open to all professionals working in the water, energy and agriculture sectors of South Africa but restricted to South African citizens only.