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Cablegate: South African Environment, Science, and Technology Monthly

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FM AMEMBASSY PRETORIA
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RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AF DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY COLLECTIVE
INFO RUEHTN/AMCONSUL CAPE TOWN 7218
RUEHDU/AMCONSUL DURBAN 1300
RUEHJO/AMCONSUL JOHANNESBURG 9581

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 PRETORIA 002039

DEPT FOR OES/PCI, OES/ENV, AND AF/S
DEPT PASS EPA/OIA,

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E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: SENV SOCI ETRD SF
SUBJECT: SOUTH AFRICAN ENVIRONMENT, SCIENCE, AND TECHNOLOGY MONTHLY
NEWSLETTER, SEPTEMBER 2009

PRETORIA 00002039 001.2 OF 003


1. (U) Summary: This is the South African Environment, Science and
Technology Monthly Newsletter, September 2009, Volume 4, Number 9,
prepared by the U.S. Embassy Pretoria, South Africa.

Topics of the newsletter:


-- SUMBANDILASAT FINALLY SHOOTS INTO ORBIT

-- HIGH-SPEED DATAT LINK TO BE INSTALLED TO SERVICES SALT

-- WATER POLLUTION POTENTIAL TRHEAT TO FOOD SECURITY IN SOUTH AFRICA


-- THE GAUTENG PROVINCE MAY RUN OUT OF WATER BY 2013

-- FISHING INDUSTRY OPERATORS AND ENVIRONMENTAL NOGO PARTNER TO
PROMOTE
SUSTAINABLE FISHING

-- SOUTH AFRICA OPENS A CARBON CAPTURE CENTER


-- CAPTIVE-BRED LION BREEDERS LOSE COURT APPEAL

-- UNIVERSITIES PARTNER IN WATER AND ENERGY RESEARCH FOR SOUTH
AFRICA AND
DEVELOPING COUNTRIES

-- MONTHLY FACTOID

---------------------------------------
SumbandilaSat Finally Shoots Into Orbit
---------------------------------------
After numerous false starts over several years, the South African
space satellite Sumbandila was finally launched into orbit on
September 17, 2009, at 17:55 South African time. SumbandilaSat was
launched from the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, on a Russian
Soyuz rocket. The 81 kilogram low- earth orbiting micro satellite
carries a high resolution camera that will produce images for use in
monitoring agriculture, mapping infrastructure and land use, and
measuring the water levels of dams. Data will be streamed to the
Council for Scientific and Industrial Research's Satellite
Applications Centre (SAC) at Hartbeeshoek, near Pretoria for
analysis and policy development purposes. In addition to the
camera, the satellite carries a secondary communication payload from
the Department of Communications and experimental payloads for the
scientific community in the areas of low frequency radio waves,
radiation, software defined radio, a forced vibrating string
experiment and an amateur radio transponder. The Minister of
Science and Technology Ms. Naledi Pandor and her Director General
Dr. Phil Mjwara were in Kazakhstan to witness the launch.
--------------------------------------------- --
High-Speed Data to be Installed to Service SALT
--------------------------------------------- --
High-Speed Data Link to Be Installed to Service SALT. Vice
President of the South African National Research Foundation (NRF)
Mr. Gatsha Mazithulele announced that Telkom and the Department of
Science and Technology have reached an agreement to install a 90GB
data link between Cape Town and Sutherland by December 1, 2009.
Mazithulele said the installation will provide a high-speed link
between the two locations, which would help scientists send data
from the South African Large Telescope (SALT) to their counterpart
researchers abroad. Previously, South African scientists had to
burn data onto CDs and then post or courier them to overseas
destinations because of inadequate bandwidth, a time consuming and
cumbersome process. Phil Charles, director of the South African
Astronomical Observatory, which manages SALT said, "What we have at
the moment is less than 1GB of bandwidth between Sutherland and Cape
Town - that is the bottom end of what an individual could expect
from an internet service provider," Meanwhile, Mr. Mazithulele said
the data link would be an interim measure to serve SALT's needs for
the next three to five years, but would ultimately enable scientists
to link to the South African Research Network (Sanren), a high-speed
Qto link to the South African Research Network (Sanren), a high-speed
network for research traffic. SALT is regarded as the most powerful
optical telescope in the southern hemisphere and is expected to be
fully operational by the end of the year. A series of technical
problems have delayed plans to get it up and running for
international researchers.
----------------------------------------
Water Pollution Potential Threat to Food
Security in South Africa
----------------------------------------
The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research's (CSIR) water
expert Dr. Paul Oberholster told Transvaal Agricultural Union (TAU)
conference attendees that South Africa's water resources are

PRETORIA 00002039 002.2 OF 003


dangerously under threat from pollution. According to Oberholster,
CSIR research has shown that demand for water will outstrip supply
by 2025, attributing the problem to population increase, economic
growth and climate change. TAU's Deputy President Louis Meintjies
fingered mines as the biggest polluters, but also said that farmers
were partly to blame since their activities also had an impact on
the environment. Meintjies complained that some farmers are using
polluted water to irrigate crops, and asked, "How do they expect to
feed South Africa". He added that "The water system goes through
South Africa into Mozambique; we give them polluted water" he
quipped, and cautioned that this had the potential to trigger
conflict. Oberhoster emphasized the need to address this
potentially adversarial situation urgently if food security was to
be maintained in the country. He said researchers should look
beyond dams in addressing the problems, emphasizing the need to
focus on natural water catchments, opining that treating polluted
dams only would not solve the problem. He announced that he was
establishing a chair of water quality and food security in the CSIR
to investigate the problems and devise some solutions.
--------------------------------------------- ----
The Gauteng Province May Run out of Water by 2013
--------------------------------------------- ----

South Africa's economic powerhouse, Gauteng province, is at risk of
running short of clean water supply by 2013 according to the
Department of Housing (DOH). Gauteng municipalities are losing
approximately R1, 2billion ($160 million) on lost or unaccounted-for
water. The problems are also attributed to aging underground
infrastructure where leaks are not discovered for several months,
uncollected water bills, dysfunctional meters, substandard building
materials, etc. The Department of Water and Environmental Affairs
and the Development Bank of Southern Africa gathered along with
delegates from all Gauteng municipalities to discuss ways to monitor
and implement water conservation and demand management strategies in
the province. Gauteng Housing Minister (MEC) Kgaogelo Lekgoro
encouraged municipalities to participate actively in sustainable
water management because "it ties in directly with their mandate to
deliver services to the people of Gauteng". He also noted that the
province would lobby for R600million ($80 million) per year for the
next six years. The funds would be used for technical skills
development, retention and infrastructure upgrades.

DOH spokesman Fred Mokoko said that with improved water conservation
and management systems, the province could cut losses by 15 percent
by 2013. He stated that Gauteng spends over R100million
($13.3million) per annum on water management. Johannesburg
municipality uses about 500 million cubic meters of water a year,
but 30 percent is unaccounted for, translating into a R522million
($69.6 million) loss. Deputy Director General of DWEA Dr Sizwe
Mkhize lamented that eThekwini municipalities in KwaZulu-Natal and
the Nelson Mandela Bay municipality in Eastern Cape provinces are
headed in a similar direction. He said although the Lesotho
highlands Water Project was being expanded, the province did not
feel the benefits of the project because of high levels of illegal
water usage

--------------------------------------------F ishing Industry
Q-------------------------------------------- Fishing Industry
Operators and Environmental

NGO Partner to Promote Sustainable Fishing
--------------------------------------------
Major stakeholders in the South African fishing industry have joined
together to establish what is known as the Responsible Fisheries
Alliance (RFA). RFA represents industry operators' and
environmental NGOs' commitment to sharing solutions to secure the
future of seafood and marine ecosystems. Sustainable fisheries
manager at the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) Dr. Samantha
Petersen stated at the launch that the aim of the alliance is to
ensure that all stakeholders understand and support the
implementation of an ecosystems approach to fisheries (EAF)
management. An EAF seeks to protect and enhance the health of marine
ecosystems on which life and human benefits depend. RFA will
promote responsible fishery practice, influence policy on fishery
governance, promote skills development to enable EAF implementation,
and facilitate ecological and socio-economical research to inform
the implementation of an EAF Former president of the IUCN Dr. Valli
Moosa stated that, "The RFA will facilitate the support of the
regulatory framework by sharing the responsibility of wisely
managing our oceans and providing additional resources to further
the World Summit on Sustainable Development goal of implementing an
EAF management by 2012." RFA's key stakeholders include WWF,
fishing companies Oceana, I&J, Sea Harvest and Viking.
------------------------------------------
South Africa Opens a Carbon Capture Center
------------------------------------------


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On September 29, South Africa officially launched the South African
Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) center, which will drive research
and carbon capture processes in the country. The center is part of
a plan to capture and store carbon emissions from expected high
volume emissions in the next decade. CCS involves capturing carbon
dioxide from gases produced by fossil fuel combustion, then
compressing and injecting it into deep geological formations for
permanent storage. South Africa is expected to increase its carbon
dioxide emissions for at least another decade, which makes CCS a
necessary mitigation measure to keep greenhouse gas emissions under
control. Speaking at a carbon capture and storage conference in
Johannesburg at which the center was launched, Minister of Energy
Dipuo Peters said, "The world needs to wean itself from fossil fuels
on to both nuclear and renewable energy. That process will take
time and carbon capture and storage is seen as a transitional
measure". Minister Peters also stated that the South African
National Energy Research Institute (SANERI) began a study for a
carbon geological storage atlas in 2008. She noted that the atlas
would be published in 2010 and will help locate potential geological
carbon storage sites. World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) South Africa
Climate Change program manager Richard Worthington raised a concern
that the advent of carbon capture and storage could sideline efforts
to develop a renewable energy industry which would have social and
economic benefits. Meanwhile the center's head Dr. Tony Surridge
stated that, "We believe that we must put a lot of money into
renewable energy and energy efficiency. No technology should be left
off the table".

--------------------------------------------
Captive-Bred Lion Breeders Lose Court Appeal
--------------------------------------------

The Free State High Court dismissed an application by the South
African Predator Breeders Association (SAPBA) to appeal a decision
on captive-bred lions. The SAPBA took the Minister of Environmental
Affairs to court in May of 2007 in protest against certain clauses
of the Threatened or Protected Species regulations which came into
effect in 2008. SAPBA objected to the listing of lions as protected
large predators and the 24 month period in which the captive-bred
lions had to fend for themselves in the wild before they could be
hunted. The association argued that the 24 month self sustaining
period provision would destroy the industry with negative economic
and social impacts. Areas likely to be hard hit could be the Free
State, Limpopo and the North West provinces where captive-bred lion
breeding is mostly practiced. Meanwhile the Environmental Affairs
department has welcomed the court's decision. Albi Modise,
department spokesperson, noted that, "hunting is an important
industry, but we must manage it in accordance with defensible
standards." He said the department has a responsibility to preserve
the resource base and ensure that the industry has a sustainable
future.

--------------------------------------------- -----
Universities Partner in Water and Energy
Research for South Africa and Developing Countries
--------------------------------------------- -----

Three major academic institutions from South Africa, Israel and the
United States have signed an agreement to conduct joint scientific
QUnited States have signed an agreement to conduct joint scientific
studies into water purification and the transformation of algae into
energy. The joint research is intended to benefit the people of
South Africa, Israel and other developing countries of the world.
Prof. Bheki Mamba said that the University of Johannesburg (UJ), the
University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) and the Ben Gurion
University (BGU) of Israel will look into how they can contribute to
the ongoing South African research on water purification in the
rural areas and the Haartebees dam. He said they would investigate
the possibility of harvesting algae from the dam and transforming it
into energy. Mamba said they would try to address the issue of
bacteria and viruses in the water, and hope to develop low-cost and
low maintenance solutions aimed at the rural areas. Prof. Mamba
will lead the South African research team, Professors Sammy Boussiba
and Yoram Oren would lead the Israeli projects, supported by a
world-renowned expert in water purification and microalgae
technology Prof. Eric Hoek of UCLA.
La Lime

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