A society that is aware of the benefits of science and technology will work to ensure it remains competitive in those areas, and petrochemicals major Sasol’s yearly Techno X expo provides a dynamic and inter-active platform for learners to discover career opportunities in mathematics, science and technology to create such a society.
This is according to Free State MEC of Economic Development, Environmental Affairs and Small Business Enterprises Msebenzi Zwane, who gave the keynote address at the fourteenth yearly Sasol Techno X expo at the Sasol ChemCity Eco-Industrial Park, in Sasolburg, earlier this month.
The five-day expo’s theme – Today’s mind, tomorrow’s future – was reflected in the efforts to expose learners to the various aspects of technology and to encourage them to explore the many disciplines and careers available in mathematics, science and technology through interactive exhibitions, experiments, workshops and site tours.
Zwane stated that he was encouraged and inspired by the proactive and strategic leadership that Sasol showed in responding to the challenges and opportunities of youth development.
He also noted that a science-literate society would ensure that future generations continue to improve on modern advances that benefited everyone.
Sasol public and regulatory affairs senior VP Wrenelle Stander stated at the expo that Sasol Techno X was a microcosm of the company.
“Creative thinking is at the heart of the com-pany and this expo stimulates creative interests. Learners from schools in rural areas are exposed to sophisticated equipment and laboratories, which also provides them with exposure to career guidance, learnership opportunities and bursaries. It is in Sasol’s interests to attract the right talent to our sector,” she said.
More than 22 000 visitors, who included grade 7 and 12 learners from 300 schools across the country, attended the event. More than 30 businesses and organisations provided career guidance for learners, and 16 tertiary education and training institutions directed learners to the relevant career options available.
“The Sasol Techno X forms an important part of Sasol’s commitment to demonstrate industry leadership in delivering relevant in-country enterprise and economic development solutions through which we can leverage initiatives for maximum benefit for Sasol and our communities,” said Sasol Sasolburg senior VP Louis Fourie at the expo.
Zwane agreed, adding that developing coun-tries, including South Africa, regarded science and technology as vital for achieving economic and political goals, as well as national prestige.
The lack of scientific and technological intellectual capacity for innovation, he said, was considered a significant problem in South Africa.
“South Africa needs well-qualified people to build and strengthen our economy in an increasingly competitive global marketplace. We need more mathematicians, scientists and engineers to enable us to overcome poverty.
“There is a unique opportunity for all South Africans to make a real contribution to this vital process, including civic groups, nongovernmental and community-based organisations, organised labour, local authorities, national government and political parties,” Zwane stated.
He further highlighted government’s increasing concern over the global environment, as human activities, technological and industrial advancements, and the consumption of earth’s natural resources without adequate replenish-ment had drastically altered the environment.
South Africa had relatively high carbon emis-sions for a developing country, he pointed out, adding that it was important to take every opportunity to change this trajectory.
According to South Africa’s greenhouse-gas emissions profile, the energy sector creates the bulk of the country’s emissions.
This presented an opportunity for government to work with the energy sector to commit to reducing emissions, while acknowledging the imperative of balancing the climate outcome with the developmental outcome of economic growth, job creation and poverty alleviation, Zwane stressed.