Maaza holds an MSc in photonics and lasers and a PhD in neutron physics from Paris VI. He worked at universities throughout Europe and Asia before coming to South Africa as a senior lecturer at Wits University in 1997, where he became Research Group leader for the Advanced Nano-Materials and Nano-Scale Physics Lab. He has co-initiated the African Laser Centre and the South African Nanotechnology Initiative with the current DST-DG which were launched in 2001 and 2006 respectively. In 2005, he joined iThemba LABS, a national facility of the National Research Foundation where he initiated the Nanosciences African Network, an official platform recognized as a Network of Excellence by the AU. Maaza’s research covers not only photonics but materials science at the nano-scale for different applications such as selective solar absorbers for solar energy harvesting and conversion, Nanofluids for enhanced heat transfer in concentrated solar power (CSP) and other renewable energy technologies. He has served on numerous international and national committees, notably as chairman of the Nanosciences African Network. He has published over hundred ISI scientific papers. At the launch of the chair Maaza was recognised as an inspiration to his students and for his dedication to the field by Dr Rudzani Nemutudi, manager of the physical sciences cluster at iThemba-LABS. The UNESCO chair is both recognition of and a platform to further nanoscience and nanotechnology within Africa and the South in general.