Unisa’s Prof Malik Maaza has been awarded the African Union Kwame Nkrumah Award for Scientific Excellence (AUKNASE)—a major recognition at a continental level for his pioneering work in science and technology. South African scientist and academic Robert Millar was jointly awarded with Maaza. Both received this prestigious award during the African Union (AU) Summit in Addis Ababa last week.
The award is the AU recognition of the highest level of the AUKNASE programme, and celebrates top African scientists for their valuable achievements, research, and discoveries.
Maaza, who is the incumbent of the UNESCO-Unisa Chair in Nanosciences and Nanotechnology, received the award, presented by the African Union and UNESCO, for his nanotechnology research in South Africa. Aside from the honour, both Maaza and Miller have been awarded a prize of almost $100 000 (R1.2 million).
In a letter of recommendation for this award, Prof Mandla Makhanya, Principal and Vice-Chancellor at Unisa, said that from the research front, guided towards excellence, novelty, and originality in nanosciences and nanotechnology, Maaza and the team under his leadership have been the first worldwide to report several scientific phenomena. “Carrying the bulk of his research in South Africa generally, he pioneered world-class nanoscience research within the continent and at the international level. It is his sustainable inclination towards excellence and originality in his research outputs that have been acknowledged via several national and international awards and accolades,” added the VC.
After receiving the award, Maaza expressed his appreciation on behalf of all scientists in Africa, saying that platforms such as this highlight the research strides being made on the continent. “It is also a great honour to be associated with giants in education. In Africa we have giants who give huge importance to education,” he said with pride.
The Commission of the African Union is committed to support the use and development of science in Africa and has since 2008 been running the AUKNASE awards, in memory of the Great Pan-Africanist and First President of the Republic of Ghana, Dr Kwame Nkrumah, a firm believer in African liberation and unity.
*Compiled by Kirosha Naicker
*Additional information from the Huffington Post