South Africa signs STI partnership agreement with Malaysia

April 29th, 2014, Published in Articles: EE Publishers, Articles: EngineerIT


by Hans van de Groenendaal, features editor, EngineerIT

A memorandum of understanding (MoU) was signed on 23 April 2014 by the South African Minister of Science and Technology, Derek Hanekom and the Malaysian Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation, Datuk Dr. Ewon Ebin.

The Malaysian Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation, Datuk Dr Ewon Ebin and Minister Derek Hanekom

The Malaysian Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation, Datuk Dr. Ewon Ebin and Minister Derek Hanekom.

Speaking at the signing ceremony in Cape Town, Minister Hanekom said, “The agreement is aimed at enhancing socio-economic development in both countries through science, technology and innovation (STI) cooperation, and will provide a tremendous opportunity for both countries to share knowledge and experience”.  The agreement is aimed at strengthening human capital development through the initiation of joint research projects.

Malaysia has been successful in transforming its agriculture-based economy since its independence in 1957.  Over the years, the emphasis has shifted from rubber, tin and palm oil, to biotechnology, nanotechnology, pharmaceuticals and other high-tech industries.  It has given priority to information and communication technologies (ICT).  South Africa is on a similar trajectory, as it moves from a resource-based to a knowledge-based economy.

Like South Africa, Malaysia is one of the most bio-diverse countries in the world.  It is a leader in bio-prospecting, and has had some success in commercialising local research results. The MoU is a strategic first step in fostering a smart partnership between the two countries.

Both South Africa and Malaysia have identified specific areas of cooperation for discussion at the first South Africa-Malaysia Joint Committee meeting held in Pretoria on 24 April 2014.  The Joint Committee meeting was aimed at developing an action plan for bilateral cooperation over the next two years, which included  Antarctic research, ICT, energy security, innovation for inclusive development, sustainable human settlements, innovation and commercialisation, astronomy and the bioeconomy.

The CSIR Meraka Institute (the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research unit focused on ICT) and its Malaysian counterpart, MIMOS, also signed an MoU to facilitate the exchange of technological expertise.

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