College of Agriculture, Engineering
and Science (CAES)

Professors Thomas Afullo (left) and Akshay Saha.

South African Academy of Engineering Fellowships for UKZN Professors

Professors Thomas Afullo and Akshay Saha of the Disciplines of Electronic and Electrical Engineering were inducted as Fellows of the South African Academy of Engineering (SAAE) at the Academy’s annual induction luncheon.

The Fellowship Certificates were presented by SAAE President and UKZN Honorary Research Fellow Mr Neil MacLeod to inductees who were elected Fellows between 2020 and 2023; the 23 new Fellows bring the number of SAAE Fellows to 220.

The Academy’s membership comprises eminent engineers and professionals across several disciplines and through its activities, it harnesses their wealth of knowledge and experience to create a unique resource for independent, evidence-based advice. It maintains affiliations with international academies of engineering and is a member of the International Council of Academies of Engineering and Technological Sciences.

Afullo was recognised for his more than 20 years of Engineering education and research in South Africa. He has graduated more than 50 postgraduate students in Electronic Engineering, including 31 master’s and 21 PhD graduates from 10 African countries. He is recognised by several societies, being a Fellow of the South African Institute of Electrical Engineers (SAIEE) and a senior member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE), as well as a registered professional engineer with the Engineering Council of South Africa (ECSA).

Afullo joined the former University of Durban-Westville, now UKZN, in 2003 and was appointed full professor in 2012. He was awarded his undergraduate degree by the University of Nairobi after which he gained professional experience as a telecommunications engineer, moving up the ranks to work as a senior executive engineer in charge of project engineering.

He pursued a master’s degree at West Virginia University in the United States of America and received his PhD in Applied Sciences from the Vrije Universiteit Brussel in Belgium while working in the Department of Electrical and Communications Engineering at Moi University in Kenya. He spent six years at the University of Botswana as a lecturer before joining UKZN, where he has served as Academic Leader for the Discipline of Electrical, Electronic and Computer Engineering, and as Director of the Telkom Centre of Excellence in Rural Telecommunications, and is now directing the Telkom Centre for Radio Access and Rural Technologies (CRART).

Afullo’s research interests are in microwave and antenna engineering, radioclimatological modelling, radio propagation modelling, power communications, and free space optics. He is a specialist editor for the Electromagnetics and Antennas research journal of the SAIEE and holds a C2 National Research Foundation rating.

In addition to being inducted as a SAAE Fellow, Saha is a Member of the Academy of Science of South Africa, a Fellow of the SAIEE, a senior member of the Society for Automation, Instrumentation, Mechatronics and Control, a senior member of the IEEE, and an individual member of the International Council on Large Electric Systems.

A registered professional engineer with the ECSA, he also serves as the Academic Leader for Research and Higher Degrees in the School of Engineering. His industrial and academic experience has served his teaching and research well, earning him six awards for the best lecturer in Electrical Engineering, seven Research Excellence Awards from UKZN, and two awards for being among the Top 20 Published Researchers at the University.

Saha is active in research on electrical power systems, applications of power electronics in power systems, real-time power system modelling, smart grid systems, power systems protections, standards and protocols, automation and control, renewable energy and distributed energy resources in power systems, applications of artificial intelligence in power systems, condition monitoring, and engineering education. He is a member of the editorial board of several international journals and has supervised 11 PhD and 36 master’s students in Electrical Engineering to graduation.

Words: Christine Cuénod

Photographs: Beverley Dupouy and Supplied