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06 March 2020 | Story Valentino Ndaba | Photo Stephen Collett
Lesetja Kganyago, Governor of the South African Reserve Bank
Reserve Bank Governor, Lesetja Kganyago, presented a public lecture at the UFS on 4 March 2020.

With a 7% fiscal deficit on the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) projected by the National Treasury for the 2020/21 financial year, it would not take long to arrive at a dangerous level of debt at the rate that South Africa is borrowing. Although the South African Reserve Bank Governor, Lesetja Kganyago, does not consider a debt to GDP rate of 60% a disaster, he did express his concern regarding the country’s fiscal deficits being over 6% of the GDP.

Governor Kganyago presented a public lecture at the University of the Free State (UFS) on 4 March 2020, focusing on how we should use macro-economic policy and its role in our economic growth problem.

Unsustainable policies 
South Africa’s fiscal situation is not about tight monetary policy. According to the Governor: “Weak growth is endogenous in our fiscal problems. We cannot keep doing what we are doing and hope that growth will recover and save us. Growth is low, in large part, because of unsustainable policy.”

Avoiding an impending crisis
To address the problem, as a policymaker with more than 20 years’ experience, the Governor suggested that the recommendations made by Minister Tito Mboweni be taken into consideration. “The Minister of Finance, Tito Mboweni, is a man who says things that are true even when they are unpopular. His message is that we have to reduce spending and he is right to put this at the centre of our macro-economic debate,” said Governor Kganyago.

The state needs a radical economic turnaround strategy which is able to diminish the risk of losing market access and being forced to ask the International Monetary Fund for help. Governor Kganyago is positive that such a reformative tactic would go beyond monetary policy and ensure that the interest bill ceases to claim more of South Africa’s scarce resources. 

News Archive

Newly operational sequencing unit in genomics at UFS
2016-09-09

Description: Next Generation Sequencing  Tags: Next Generation Sequencing

Dr Martin Nyaga and his research assistant,
Tshidiso Mogotsi in the Next Generation
Sequencing Laboratory.
Photo: Charl Devenish

The Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) unit at the UFS was established as an interdisciplinary facility under the Directorate for Research Development, Faculty of Health Sciences and Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences.

The aim of the NGS facility is to aid internal and external investigators undertaking studies on Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) sequencing, assembly and bioinformatics approaches using the more advanced Illumina MiSeq NGS platform.

The NGS unit became operational in 2016 and is managed by Dr Martin Nyaga and administered through the office of the Dean, Faculty of Health Sciences, under the leadership of Prof Gert Van Zyl. Dr Nyaga has vast experience in microbial genomics, having done his PhD in Molecular Virology.

He has worked and collaborated with globally recognised centres of excellence in Prokaryotic and Eukaryotic genomics, namely the J. Craig Venter Institute and the Laboratory of Viral Metagenomics, Rega Institute, among others.

The unit has undertaken several projects and successfully generated data on bacterial, viral and human genomes. Currently, work is ongoing on bacterial and fungal metagenomics studies through 16S rRNA sequencing.

In addition, the unit is also working on plasmid/insert sequencing and whole genome sequencing of animal and human rotaviruses. The unit has capacity to undertake other kinds of panels like the HLA, Pan-cancer and Tumor 15 sequencing, among others.

Several investigators from the UFS including but not limited to Prof Felicity Burt, Prof Wijnand Swart, Dr Frans O’Neil, Dr Trudi O'Neill, Dr Charlotte Boucher, Dr Marieka Gryzenhout and Dr Kamaldeen Baba are actively in collaboration with the NGS unit.

The unit has also invested in other specialised equipment such as the M220 Focused-ultrasonicator (Covaris), 2100 Bioanalyzer system (Agilent) and the real-time PCR cycler, the Rotor-Gene Q (Qiagen), which both the UFS and external investigators can use for their research.

Investigators working on molecular and related studies are encouraged to engage with Dr Nyaga on how they would like to approach their genomics projects at the UFS NGS unit. 

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