“Fall seven times, get up eight.” — Evolver Social Movement

Zama Duma


Technology & Innovation

Organisation / Company

Council for Scientific and Industrial Research
Catalysis Society of South Africa


Zama Duma, 30, is working in some very exciting fields — catalysis and materials science — which are changing the way we power the world. In his work for the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, he is converting carbon dioxide to green methanol and other useful products such as feedstocks for the petrochemicals sector. He also works as a media officer for the Catalysis Society of South Africa.

He’s part of the Green Methanol Corridor Blueprint Project, which aims to localise decarbonised methanol production in the Vaal, and has the potential to create over half a million jobs, something South Africa is in desperate need of. Through working on this project, he’s learned the importance of conducting research that has socioeconomic benefits for us all.

Although he already had two science degrees, Zama had a tough time obtaining employment a few years ago, which pushed him to do further studies. He completed his MA in chemistry and is now on his way to becoming a doctor in chemical engineering at the University of Cape Town. He says that the global community is transitioning to green, sustainable economies, and South Africa’s youth can benefit greatly from learning green skills to play their part in making a difference.


Bachelor of Science, University of the Witwatersrand
Bachelor of Science Honours (Chemistry), University of the Witwatersrand
Master of Science (Chemistry), University of the Witwatersrand
Candidate for Doctor of Philosophy (Chemical Engineering), University of Cape Town


The green methanol project, which was also part of my Master’s studies at the University of the Witwatersrand, is by far my proudest work. From conceptualisation to implementation, the project included collaborators from France in the early phases, where carbon dioxide and renewable hydrogen are converted to green methanol. This has many uses in maritime travel and in the production of formaldehyde, biodiesel and various other value-added chemicals that are key to the global economy.

In November 2023, the “Green Methanol Corridor”, which includes various German-funded SMMEs, the Gauteng Department of Economic Development, and the CSIR was launched in Sandton. The Blueprint Project by Green eFuels Producers will result in the construction of a plant with a capacity of 17 500 tonnes per year of green methanol from sewage sludge and renewable hydrogen. The Blueprint project is earmarked to create up to 600 000 jobs in the Vaal Special Economic Zone; the port of Durban will be used as the point of sale.

Through the project, I have learned the significance of conducting research that will not end in the laboratory but instead can be translated and scaled-up to technologies that have socioeconomic benefits for the national and international communities.


My former mentor taught me to refrain from wishful thinking, where one is fixated on goals that are based on fictional, utopian or non-existent scenarios. This helped me to shift my thought process and focus on tangible goals that are based on reality. Furthermore, each goal should be SMART: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timeous.