Book Review - Innovation: Shaping South Africa Through Science

by Sarah Wild (Pan Macmillan) ISBN: 978-1-77010-438-9

Innovation is the second book from multi-award winning science journalist and science editor at the Mail & Guardian, Sarah Wild. 

The book is a compilation of smart and informative articles, grouped in five sections: Environment, Energy, Health, Industry and Education. As I progressed through the book, my sense of excitement grew at the extent and intricacy of the solutions and projects from all over the country in a plethora of disciplines, who knew? 

Not only in spite of, but because of the challenges that are very specific to South Africa there are people at our universities and research facilities finding new ways to mitigate and ultimately solve the problems we face. Projects such as Mobile Laboratories to help small, rural farmers add diversity to their cattle flocks, the iShack solar panel power project for informal settlements and tablet roll-out to less advantaged schools to assist teachers, show insight into basic community needs. 

Wild imparts enough technical knowledge to leave the reader feeling well informed on each article’s topic without causing overwhelm. I loved this book because it acknowledges how gutsy and original our researchers, scientists and engineers are. 


More than just ideas – innovation is making ideas come to life to solve real life problems. Many people remember South African breakthrough ideas like the Kreepy Krauly, or the first heart transplant. But do we know what we’re doing right now in 2015? 

This book is a fascinating, and really readable account of scientific innovation happening in South Africa today to address issues in many areas: environment, energy, health, industry and education. The author is an awarded science journalist and the science editor at the Mail & Guardian. She brings a depth of research and insight to what could easily be seen as difficult or even boring subject matter, but her approachable style makes everything accessible, understandable and incredibly interesting. 

From ocean gliders sailing the southern ocean in search of weather data, to potentially life-saving genetic research, there is so much to discover about the amazing projects on the go in South Africa. I am still enjoying dipping into this book, and I highly recommend it to anyone with an interest in how science can change the world. 

Judy Ward
www.writerswrite.co.za
3/5

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Searching African Skies

by Sarah Wild (Jacana) ISBN 978-1-4314-0472-8 



Space is the new frontier and as main host to largest radio telescope in the world, the Square Kilometre Array (SKA), South Africa is perfectly positioned to explore these new vistas of opportunity. 

Sarah Wild, Science and Technology editor for Business Day, explains why. She tracks South Africa’s long history in (radio) astronomy which begins with the /Xam Bushmen stories on the origins of celestial bodies. Scientists, academics, and subsequent governments have initiated and supported the construction of various observatories and telescopes. The ANC-led government has spent more on radio astronomy than previous governments since 1910 combined and further facilitated developments by lawfully declaring most of the Northern Cape “an astronomy advantage area”.  This has allowed South Africa to position as a “supplier of knowledge and innovation”. 

By awarding the SKA the international astronomical society has endorsed this position. The economic impact of the project might not be as immediate as the poor communities in the Karoo hope but the SKA will contribute to development and jobs.  Its human capital development programme greatly boosts interest and capability in the fields of Science & Technology for (South) Africans. 

Although the scientific content went over my head at times, Sarah Wild’s enthusiasm for this amazing South African achievement and its further potential is catching. 

Josine Overdevest
3.5/5

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