Visit from Professor Loyiso Nongxa

Prof. Loyiso Nongxa (Vice-Chancellor and Principal, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa) gave a talk at AMSI on the 17th of August 2012



Rooting for Mathematical Sciences in South Africa: Context, Challenges, Capacity

Prof. Loyiso Nongxa
Vice-Chancellor and Principal, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa

In 2008 the Department of Science and Technology commissioned a review of the State of Mathematical Sciences in South Africa. Its objectives were to:

  • provide a report on the status of research in mathematical sciences at South African universities;
  • assess the application and innovation linked to mathematical sciences research conducted in South Africa, and
  • recommend key issues for consideration in the development of a strategy to improve research in mathematical sciences in South Africa.

One of the recommendations in the Report was that South Africa should consider establishing a National Institute for Mathematical and Computational Sciences (NIMACS) which will consist of nodes in the Western Cape, where the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences is situated, Gauteng, where the University of the Witwatersrand is located and the Province of KwaZulu-Natal.  I was tasked with spearheading the establishment of a Centre for Mathematical Sciences at Wits which could become the Gauteng-node, as well as championing the establishment of NIMACS.

In this talk, I intend to sketch the context and current landscape in terms of mathematical sciences in South Africa, in particular the policy domain, address the key challenges relating to establishing a national institute and reflect on the capacity of the education system to respond effectively to South Africa’s needs in mathematical sciences.


Professor Loyiso Nongxa has been the Vice-Chancellor and Principal of the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits), Johannesburg since 2003. Prior to this appointment, he served as the acting Vice-Chancellor and Vice-Principal from April 2002 and also held the position of Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) from October 2000. Nongxa is a mathematician who has lectured at the University of Fort Hare, the National University of Lesotho, the University of Natal and the University of the Western Cape (UWC). He was also a Professor in Mathematics and Dean of the Faculty of Natural Sciences at UWC. He holds a BSc (cum laude) and MSc (cum laude) from Fort Hare and a DPhil from the University of Oxford. In 1978, Nongxa became South Africa’s first African Rhodes Scholar. Nongxa is an established researcher and enjoys international recognition for his high quality research outputs. His research interests include Abelian Group Theory and Universal Algebra. He has been published in the field of Mathematics 18 times in his career.