Government to invest R7,8-billion in the knowledge economy

May 11th, 2018, Published in Uncategorised articles

Minister of Science and Technology, Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane.

The Department of Science and Technology (DST) plans to invest hundreds of millions of Rands on programmes in the knowledge economy to stimulate economic growth, enhance energy security, and promote the country as a research and development destination.

The Minister of Science and Technology, Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane, delivered her first budget vote as the department finalises a new White Paper on science, technology and innovation (STI), while the National Advisory Council on Innovation works on a framework for a new decadal plan. The premise of the new White Paper is that science, technology and innovation are central to inclusive and sustainable development for shaping a different South Africa. The DST budget this financial year has modestly increased to R7,79-billion.

South Africa’s science system remains small and fragmented, and while efforts in creating institutions, building relationships and facilitating coherence are beginning to bear fruit, there are still challenges. Recent reviews point to issues such as non-inclusive agenda setting, insufficient involvement of business and civil society, significant underfunding, and inadequate high-level science, engineering and technology skills for the economy.

“Our national system of innovation has the potential to contribute significantly to improving the quality of education, accelerating skills development, building the capacity of the state, and increasing employment through faster economic growth”, Minister Kubayi-Ngubane said.

The DST’s Research Development and Support Programme received an allocation of R4,4-billion. The programme aims to award 9300 bursaries to PhD students and 32 400 bursaries to pipeline postgraduate (BTech, honours and master’s) students.

The global Square Kilometre Array (SKA) radio astronomy project will continue to receive financial support over the next three years, with an amount of R2,2-billion set aside over the medium term expenditure framework (MTEF) period. All 42 farm portions required for SKA Phase 1 have been secured.

The department’s Technology Innovation Programme received an allocation of R1,1-billion to enable, among other things, research, development and innovation in space science and technology, energy security, the bioeconomy and indigenous knowledge systems, as well as to promote the protection and utilisation of intellectual property and technology transfer.

The International Cooperation and Resources Programme received R141-million to invest in initiatives that support international cooperation in science, technology and innovation. The allocation is used for increasing the flow of international resources into the country for, among others, STI-based socio-economic development; for increasing the exposure of South African researchers and students to global knowledge and STI networks; and for supporting capacity development in Africa to develop the continent’s knowledge-based economy.

Allocations to the department’s entities are as follows:

  • The National Research Foundation: R904-million
  • The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research: R963,2 million.
  • The Human Sciences Research Council: R303,7-million.
  • The Academy of Science of South Africa: R25,7-million.
  • The South African National Space Agency: R138-million.
  • The South African Council for Natural Scientific Professions: R4,5-million

The Minister said that as a country entering a new dawn, we should embrace the potential of science, technology and innovation to help us seize the opportunities and ameliorate the risks that arise in an increasingly interconnected and globalised environment.