Nompumelelo Obokoh

Chief Executive Officer, South African Council for Natural Scientific Professions

Nompumelelo Obokoh (nee Masubelele) holds a Ph.D. in Plant Biotechnology from the Institute of Biotechnology, University of Cambridge, UK. She is the CEO of the South African Council for Natural Scientific Professions (SACNASP) and the former Chairperson of the Board of the National Research Foundation (NRF) (October 2018 - November 2022). She also serves as an independent non-executive Director of FruitSA.

With more than 18 years working in agricultural research and innovation systems with a focus on biotechnology, Nompumelelo has led multi-institutional, multi-disciplinary, and multi-national teams and efforts to improve sustainable agricultural productivity for small-holder farmers in sub-Saharan Africa. In addition to extensive research experience in South Africa, she has worked and engaged with various stakeholders in the agricultural innovation value-chain throughout Southern, East, and West Africa. She has a strong background in biotechnology, capacity building, advocacy, private-public partnerships – including with NARES, intellectual property rights issues, and scaling up agricultural technologies.

She was appointed as a Commissioner in the South African Presidential Commission on the 4th Industrial Revolution and has held various leadership positions as an Executive (General Manager: Bioeconomy) at The Innovation Hub Management Company, CEO of AfricaBio (an independent non-profit association in the biotechnology sector) and as Divisional Head for Innovation Support and Protection of Companies &  Intellectual Property Commission (CIPC), and with the African Agricultural Technology Foundation in Abuja, Nigeria and Nairobi, Kenya. Prior to this, she was a Senior Manager at the Agricultural Research Council in South Africa and a Post-Doctoral Research Associate at the University of Cambridge, UK.

She has received several awards and accolades including the Mandela Cambridge Scholarship, Mandela Magdalene College Scholarship, Fellow of the Cambridge Commonwealth Society, as well as the Rothamstead International - African Research Fellowship. She was featured in the 2020 Women’s Report: Celebrating Black Women’s Excellence and by the Art of Superwomen - A Woman Belongs: In The Biotechnology & Agricultural Industry.