Entrance of Hartebeesthoek Radio Astronomy Observatory (HartRAO)
National Research Foundation
FormationApril 1, 1999; 23 years ago (1999-04-01)
Legal statusFoundation
PurposeFunding and research in South Africa
Region served
South Africa
Official language
LeaderProf Fulufhelo Nelwamondo

South Africa’s National Research Foundation (NRF) is the intermediary agency between the policies and strategies of the Government of South Africa and South Africa's research institutions.

It was established on 1 April 1999 as an autonomous statutory body in accordance with the National Research Foundation Act. Dr Fulufhelo Nelwamondo has been appointed as Chief Executive Officer of the National Research Foundation of South Africa with effect from 1 April 2021. The NRF Board is chaired by Dr Nompumelelo Obokoh.[1]


The NRF has three main functions:

  1. to support research and innovation, through its agency, Research and Innovation Support and Advancement (RISA);
  2. to encourage an interest in science and technology through its business unit, the South African Agency for Science and Technology Advancement (SAASTA);
  3. to facilitate high-end research through its National Research Facilities (South African Institute for Aquatic Biodiversity; Hartebeesthoek Radio Astronomy Observatory; iThemba Laboratory for Accelerator Based Sciences; South African Astronomical Observatory; Hermanus Magnetic Observatory; National Zoological Gardens of South Africa)

One of the NRF’s key objectives is to ensure appropriately qualified people and high-level infrastructure to produce the knowledge that makes South Africa a global competitor. Its "focus areas" are:

Unlike other Science Councils whose role is research performance, the NRF primarily fulfils an agency role, with a smaller portion of its activity allocated to actual research. Funding from the NRF is largely directed towards academic research, developing high-level human resources, and supporting the National Research Facilities, although beneficiaries include students, and private individuals or companies. KZN Literary Tourism is a project which has received funding through the NRF.

Centres of Excellence

In 2004 the NRF founded seven Centres of Excellence (COE), which aim to facilitate inter-disciplinary research with the aim of enhancing research and capacity building. Additional COEs have been added since:[2]

See also


  1. ^ "NRF board". National Research Foundation. 2020. Retrieved 18 December 2020.
  2. ^ "Centres of Excellence". National Research Foundation. National Research Foundation. Retrieved 11 April 2016.
  3. ^ "Rasigan Maharajh". Who's Who of Southern Africa. Naspers Group. Retrieved 3 April 2016.