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ACM SIGGRAPH-Eurographics visit to Southern Africa
19 March-4 April 2001
Part 4 - Details of the Meetings in Gauteng



4.6 University of Pretoria (UP) (http://www.up.ac.za)

    4.6.1 Vice Chancellor

    A meeting was held with UP's Vice Chancellor, Professor van Zyl, the Director of the School of Information Technology, Professor Roode, and the Head of the Computer Science Department, Professor Kourie. Once again the ACM DL consortia was of great interest, especially ways of providing this service efficiently to the region. In particular Professor van Zyl emphasised the need to provide multi-disciplinary access to the DL. Furthermore, the concept of a central visualisation facility was being considered to further multi-disciplinary interaction. The delegation was also informed about the SARA initiative, which is similar to CITI, providing an innovation hub together with the network infrastructure. A number of start-up companies have already taken advantage of SARA. This project is a joint UP-CSIR venture.  


    • ACM DL consortia 
    • multi-disciplinary interaction 
    • contacting alumni about opportunities in Southern Africa


    • Professor van Zyl will pursue the DL consortia through the committee of Vice Chancellors 
    • an institutional meeting will be held to encourage multi-disciplinary interaction 
    • where possible UP will provide their lists of alumni so they can be contacted about the AFRIGRAPH reception at S2001

    4.6.2 Department of Computer Science, Staff and Students

    The presentation was given to a significant number of students. This was followed by three demonstrations of VR work currently being undertaken at UP, including virtual drumming (a paper on which has just been accepted for Eurographics 2001), and two on encultured virtual environments: Ndebele painting and access to a shebeen. 


    • EVE (Encultured Virtual Environments)


    • Educator grant submissions for S2001 and student volunteers for S2002 
    • Suggested submitting VR projects as sketches for SIGGRAPH/AFRIGRAPH.

4.7 5DT (http://www.5dt.com)

5DT was the only virtual reality company that the delegation was able to meet. 5DT's work focuses on VR Training systems and VR peripherals. 5DT exhibited at S1999.

After giving the presentation to the CEO of 5DT, Paul Olckers, the delegation was shown a number of demonstrations including: a head mounted display system for training miners in the use of the Continuous Miner extraction system; a Phobia treatment system for treating the fear of heights, darkness and claustrophobia; the data glove which 5DT has developed; a fibre guided video missile training system; and, a flight simulator.

5DT also mentioned that difficulty of retaining Southern Africa trained computer science professionals within the region. 


  • investigating new markets for their products


  • 5DT to present at AFRIGRAPH 
  • attendance at the proposed AFRIGRAPH reception at S2001

4.8 Department of Communications ( http://www.gov.za/dept/communication/)


A dinner meeting was held with Mr Bongani Bunu and a colleague from the Government's Department of Communications. Mr Bunu heads up Multimedia projects and Telecommunications policy. Major issues were discussed including encouraging young disadvantaged children to take up science and maths, and tackling the large illiteracy problem in the country through adult education. Lack of access to the internet is actually generating fear and resentment amongst those without access. IT should be seen as an industry vehicle for empowerment of previously disadvantaged people. The Houtek initiative has been established near Cape Town to provide VR facilities for vocational training. 


  • vocational training 
  • wider internet access 
  • computer graphics for teaching other subjects 
  • capacity development


  • Mr Bunu will be supplied with copies of the videos done at Caltech for teaching basic mathematics 
  • perhaps a paper or panel at AG2001 will be presented to consider widening access to the Internet in the rural areas, using the examples of significant access by farmers in the US because of on-line agricultural information, and the use of internet cafes in rural Taiwan.

4.9 NRF - National Research Foundation ( http://www.nrf.ac.za/)


The National Research Foundation is the principal funding agency for scientific research in South Africa. A primary goal is integrating research with government and industry. The NRF is an adhering body for the ISCU organisation, a government level research collaboration. As such they participate 2 years. Currently NRF has links with Mozambique, Nigeria, Italy, Sweden and the Royal Society of the UK. Discussions were also held about ways in which more graduates could be persuaded to stay on in the country and undertake further postgraduate studies.

The NRF staff also acquainted the delegation with overall government priorities in the technology area. The overal priority for South Africa is to engage in capacity development. Information Technology has been identified as a presidential focus area in this effort, so there was definite interest in determining if and how computer graphics could contribute to these critical efforts for the country. 


  • visiting fellow programs 
  • fostering international collaborations 
  • assisting ``historically disadvantaged institutions'' in the region 
  • capcity development 


  • offer to point to AFRIGRAPH from the NRF website 
  • possible funding for students to attend AG2001

4.10 Centre for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) - icomtek and SAC (http://www.csir.co.za/)


The Satellite Application Centre (SAC) of the CSIR at Hartebeeshoek hosted the delegation together with representatives from the CSIR's Information and Communications Technology (icomtek) group. Icomtek is interested in using visualisation for all aspects of basic education in Africa. The researcher s feel this visualisation is not of value unless it is culturally relevant. The example they cited is of the ``taxi language'' which has evolved in the region, where a simple gesture or position of the hand can convey to (and from) the taxi driver rich information, including destination, time of return etc. The SAC has a unique satellite data set of the region. That they are using increasingly to visualise environmental impact studies. 



  • encultured virtual environments 
  • terrain modelling 
  • environmental modelling 
  • collaborative projects 
  • visual literacy


  • satellite conference photograph for AG2001

4.11 AFRIGRAPH2001 (AG2001) Committee Meeting


An AG2001 committee meeting was held at the CSIR facilities at Hartebeeshoek, to which the delegation was invited. Not all the AG2001 committee were in attendance. Full minutes are available upon request. The main issues considered were changing the name of the organisation from SAGA to AFRIGRAPH (to avoid conflicts with the South Africa Gun/Geophysical/Geriatrics Associations - and to be more inclusive of Africa by looking beyond Southern Africa), and of the conference from SAGA2001 to AFRIGRAPH 2001, or AG2001 for short. More inclusion of the local community was also discussed and this led to the AGKids proposal where children in the local community will get to experience some of the aspects of AG2001. Some felt that it was important to include the recent Presidential Directives in the call for papers. It was also felt that there should be a ``fun'' element as well, which led to the idea of the African Graphics Showcase. 


  • SAGA now known as AFRIGRAPH, SAGA2001 becomes AG2001 
  • http://www.afrigraph.org and http://www.ag2001.org will be registered 
  • AGkids will be organised at AG2001 to provide wider community access 
  • mentoring will be introduced to encourage students to be involved in the organisation of AG2001 
  • African Graphics Showcase to premier all aspects of graphics design work from the region 
  • Art Show to be held at the event

4.12 University of the Witwatersrand (Wits) and University of South Africa (UNISA) (http://www.wits.ac.za, http://www.unisa.ac.za)


A dinner meeting was held with three representatives from Wits and the head of the Department of Computer Science at UNISA, Professor Paula Kotze. The Wits people believe that network bandwidth is not the problem for obtaining electronic material, such as the ACM DL, but rather it is the reliability of the networks that is a problem. As a purely ``correspondence'' university, UNISA with its 28,000 undergraduate computer science students has some unique problems. They would like to see computer graphics become a bigger part of their curriculum. There was also interest by both groups in being part of the proposed ACM DL consortia. 

A Not Uncommon Sight at Dinner


  • more reliable networks 
  • bringing arts and science closer together 
  • long distance learning of computer graphics and using computer graphics


  • Educator grant applications 
  • possibly hosting the Travelling Art Show at Wits

Go back to Part 4 - Grahamstown
Go on to Part 4 - Botswana
Go back to the Table of Contents

Nan Schaller, ACM/SIGGRAPH Project Grants Chair

Last updated: March 15, 2002