On Thursday, 25 May 2023, the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and the National Integrated Cyber Infrastructure System (NICIS) had the honour of hosting Deputy Minister of Higher Education, Science and Technology Buti Manamela, at the National Cyber Infrastructure Centre System, which is based at the CSIR Cape Town regional office.
The visit emanated from the Ministry of Higher Education, Science and Innovation’s finalised programme of activities as part of the Budget Vote, which took place on Tuesday, 23 May 2023.
The Centre for High Performance Computing (CHPC) is a national high performing computing facility that is funded by the DSI and administered by the CSIR.
The intention of the programme is to showcase key investments made in support of science and innovation.
Executive Cluster Manager: CSIR NextGen Enterprises and Institutions (NGEI), Dr Lulama Wakaba, and the Director of the NICIS, Mr Mervyn Christoffels, welcomed Deputy Minister Buti Manamela and gave a comprehensive overview of the recent work done by the NGEI and NICIS.
“It was our privilege to host the Deputy Minister of Deputy Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation for a morning of showcasing our impact on enabling innovation to flourish and grow skills thereby contributing to building a capable digital state, which results in a transformed economy and better Africa – our future plans are even more exciting,” said Mervyn.
The Deputy Minister was interested in how loadshedding has impacted the centre and what the mitigating approaches taken by the CHPC have been, as well as what support the centre requires to proceed with its daily operations. Mervyn advised that the team is currently working on mitigating the risks of loadshedding to ensure that there is continuity of the CHPC’s services.
“Our user community, higher education sector, science councils and private industry users have not been spared by the impact of loadshedding as they experience a reduction in the availability of our computing and storage resources, which results in long queues for processing their simulations, complex computations and modelling tasks. Long queues result in delayed processing times, which ultimately impacts their research commitments”, said Mervyn.
“The centre has initiated several projects aimed at ensuring 100% availability of the services but exogenous factors like the availability of diesel is out of their control. Even so, the team has a number of solutions that are currently being investigated, namely renewable and green energy options and an increase in Eskom’s capacity when we are not loadshed to supply our Data Centre”, elaborated Mervyn.
The visit was concluded with a tour of the CHPC facility and a brief engagement with the team at the centre.
DSI Deputy Minister, Buti Manamela, with the NGEI and NICIS team
Deputy Minister Buti Manamela during the tour at the CHPC laboratory facility