New NRF CEO appointed

26th March 2021 By: Rebecca Campbell - Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor

The board of the National Research Foundation (NRF) has announced the appointment of a new CEO for the organisation. He is Professor Fulufhelo Nelwamondo and he will take up the post of April 1. The NRF is an independent statutory body mandated to promote and support research by providing funding, the required research facilities and human resource development.

Nelwamondo holds a PhD, in Electrical Engineering in Computational Intelligence, from the University of the Witwatersrand. He was the youngest South African so far to be awarded the Harvard-South Africa Fellowship and in 2008 was a Postdoctoral Fellow at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. For his contributions to science and especially electrical engineering in South Africa, he was awarded the Order of Mapungubwe in Silver in 2017.

Before joining the NRF, he had worked at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR). He had held the post of Executive Manager CSIR Cluster: Next Generation Enterprises and Institutions. 

He has served as chairperson and panel member of a number of NRF committees. These included the NRF Flagship Programme, the Centres of Excellence programme and the South African Research Chairs Initiative programme.

“Prof Nelwamondo is a seasoned executive with a proven track record in strategy, operational planning and successful implementation,” stated the NRF in its announcement. “He has worked within the National System of Innovation with multiple stakeholders in the public and private sectors and led complex operational outfits in the forefront of research, development and innovation, in areas such as Artificial Intelligence, communications technologies and data science, that underpins the Fourth Industrial Revolution. He has a proven track record in spearheading innovation-driven research portfolios that demonstrated huge financial returns and societal impact.”

The NRF board congratulated Nelwamondo on his appointment and anticipated that he would lead the NRF “to new heights”. The board also thanked Dr Gansen Pillay for “holding the fort” for several months as acting CEO.