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UFS mathematician named among world’s top scientists



Staff Reporter

A researcher with the University of the Free State (UFS)’s Institute of Groundwater Studies, Professor Abdon Atangana, has been named among the top one percent of outstanding scientists in the world.

Atangana, 35, made it to the prestigious Clarivate Web of Science List 2020 for his groundbreaking work in mathematics and other related fields.

The Clarivate Web of Science List brings together an elite group of scientists recognised for their exceptional research influence through the production of multiple highly cited papers in the top one percent of citations in the Web of Science index.

Less than 6 200 or 0.1 percent of the world’s researchers enjoy this international recognition.

About 10 scientists from South Africa were selected and Atangana is the only mathematician.

“I think this is a clear indication of novelty,” Atangana told The Free Stater.

“This is confirmation that I have tried something new and it worked.”

“The recognition is very important, but I didn’t do it for myself. I did it for Africa,” he added.

“What I care for is for a child from Africa to look at my work one day and say they can also do it because it was done by an African.”

Atangana, originally from Cameroon, becomes the second African mathematician to be on the Clarivate Web of Science List and the first black mathematician in the world to claim the accolade.

“I actually didn’t expect to be included on the list although I have been getting a lot of researchers citing my work,” he said.

“You are normally considered for the Clarivate Web of Science List if your work is frequently cited by peers for at least 10 years.

“I am quite happy they considered my name much earlier, but again, it’s not for me. It’s for Africa.”

In a statement, the UFS said Atangana has been included on the illustrious list owing to his cross-fields contribution, which includes mathematics and applications in real-world problems.

“This is quite remarkable, given that he has only been an academic researcher for seven years,” the university said.

Atangana received acknowledgement for his work in mathematics in 2019 and moved to the cross-fields category in 2020.

According to the UFS, he is known for his work in developing a new fractional operator that is used to model real-world problems arising in the fields of science, technology and engineering.

The university said an article in the Alexandria Engineering Journal described the use of Atangana-Baleanu operators as a diverse and flourishing discipline.

Atangana is now the editor of more than 20 top-tier journals of applied mathematics and mathematics.

At some of the journals, he was the first African to be selected as editor.

Some of the publications he edits include: the American Institute of Mathematical Sciences Journal, the European Physical Journal Plus, the Chaos, Solitons & Fractals Journal, the Results in Physics Journal, the Journal of Thermal Science and the Fractals: A Complex Geometry, Patterns, and Scaling in Nature and Society Journal.

He has also been approached by the Fractal and Fractional Journal to join the editorial board as sectional editor-in-chief.


Parts of Free State may not have power for up to three weeks



PROLONGED BLACKOUT LOOMS . . . Eskom says consumers in some parts of the Free State may not have electricity for up to three weeks

Eskom has warned consumers in the south-eastern Free State that they may not have electricity for up to three weeks due to voltage constraints on the network feeding the Melkspruit Substation.

The power failure resulted in electricity users in Zastron, Rouxville and Smithfield as well as those fed directly by Eskom on the RVZ and RVS 22 kV lines experiencing outages over the past weekend.

Eskom’s spokesperson in the Free State, Stefanie Jansen van Rensburg, said the problem may persist until major work on a line from the Northern Cape is completed.

“The voltage constraint on the network will persist until construction of structures on the Ruigtevallei-Valleydora 132 kV line in the Northern Cape is completed,” said Van Rensburg as she urged consumers to remain patient while the supply challenge is addressed.

“Free State teams are currently assisting to speed up the process. It is however expected that work will take two to three weeks to complete.”

“In the meantime, electricity users are urged to use electricity sparingly, especially during the morning and evening peak hours, to prevent trips,” she added.

South Africa has been experiencing rolling blackouts in recent weeks due to what Eskom has described a “continued shortage of generation capacity”.

On Sunday, the national power utility said in a separate statement it had about 3 028 megawatts on planned maintenance, while another 14 992 megawatts of capacity were unavailable due to breakdowns.

While the loadshedding is meant to ease pressure on the national grid and avoid a total collapse of the system, the practice has reportedly caused damage on some lines when power is switched back on.

Eskom has always said loadshedding is implemented only as a last resort to protect the national grid and promised to limit the implementation of loadshedding to the evening peak in order to limit the impact of the capacity shortages on the public. – Staff Reporter

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Minister shuts down troubled Free State water supplier



MOVE GAZETTED . . . Water and Sanitation Minister Senzo Mchunu has disestablished Sedibeng Water

Staff and key assets from the embattled Sedibeng Water Board are set to be transferred to the Bloemwater and Magalies water boards following the gazetting of the move by Water and Sanitation Minister Senzo Mchunu last week.

The department’s spokesperson, Sputnik Ratau, said in a statement the development is in line with the minister’s commitment to review the country’s water boards to enable them to perform optimally while enhancing the delivery of water to municipalities and ultimately to households.

The decision to disestablish Sedibeng Water – which served Matjhabeng, Masilonyana and Nala local municipalities, among others – means its staff, assets and liabilities will be absorbed by Bloemwater in the Free State and Magalies in Gauteng.

The move, according to Ratau, was initiated by the minister following his working sessions with provincial governments, various water services authorities and water boards regarding issues of governance, financial viability as well as accountability and broader service delivery issues after taking office in August last year.

“The review is based on considerations of financial sustainability, servicing areas that are not currently serviced and is also intended to address institutional confusion caused by having multiple water boards serving the same area,” said Ratau.

“The disestablishment of Sedibeng Water is in accordance with section 28 of the Water Services Act of 1997 which affords Minister Mchunu the authority to disestablish a water board.

“The gazette was published on Friday, 20 May 2022 and will remain open to the public for a period of 40 days.

“Members of the public and all interested parties are invited to make comments in writing on the disestablishment of the board.”

The department said it will ensure there is smooth transition of the disestablishment and that water service provision to communities is not affected.

Based in Bothaville, Sedibeng Water was established to, among others, treat wastewater and supply potable water in a viabile and sustainable manner.

However, in recent years, some of the municipalities served by the water board have struggled over the years to pay on time for the bulk water supplies even though residents have argued that they pay their monthly bills on time.

At the end of March this year, Sedibeng reportedly owed its service providers over R5-billion as it was struggling to secure payment from several municipalities. – Staff Reporter

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Mangaung warns residents to brace for heavy rainfall



DISRUPTIVE DOWNPOUR LOOMING . . . Mangaung Metropolitan Municipality has warned heavy rainfall is expected to pound the capital

The Mangaung Metropolitan Municipality has warned residents in and around the Free State capital to brace for heavy rainfall that could cause flooding this Friday.

The municipality is urging drivers to take extra caution by reducing speed and switching their headlights on, while pedestrians are being reminded to be careful when crossing the road and to avoid crossing rivers and streams where water is above the ankles.

“Residents of Mangaung Metro, particularly in the former Naledi region, are urged to be cautious on the road and in their homes as the South African Weather Service has issued an impact-based warning . . . for possible disruptive rainfall,” the metro said in a statement.

“This warning is valid for Friday, 20 May 2022 until Saturday, 21 May 2022.”

“Heavy rains are also predicted in Bloemfontein on Friday,” it added.

“Localised flooding can be expected in susceptible low-lying areas, roads, formal/informal settlements and bridges.” – Staff Reporter

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