Aug 15, 2012
Innovation key to progressing SA to high-income status – ManuelBack
Engineering|Africa|Education|Health|Marine|PROJECT|System|Water|Africa|Norway|South Africa|Product|Products|Services|Jacob Zuma|Power|Trevor Manuel
© Reuse this
“Science and technology have and will continue to shape development in ways that open up huge opportunities for humanity in general, including poor countries,” he told Parliament during his handover of the National Development Plan (NDP) 2030 to President Jacob Zuma.
The NDP 2030 states that South Africa’s science and innovation system is small considering the population of the country and when compared internationally. The percentage of gross national product spent by a country on research and development is often used as an indicator of a developmental stage and South Africa’s figure of 0.92% in 2007 does not compare well with a country such as Norway which spent 1.62% in the same year.
Overall, South Africa’s global competitiveness is challenged by the small research sector and its inability to increase research personnel, research outputs and the number of PhD graduates.
Currently, the natural sciences are the most prolific research area in the country accounting for 36% of the total research output, with the humanities accounting for 21% and the medical and health sciences 20%.
Most scientific output is produced by the universities, which have increased their portion of all scientific output produced in South Africa from 80% in 1995 to 86% in 2007. The private sector produces little scientific output.
The NDP 2030 proposes a number of ways in which the national research and innovation system can be grown and central among these is to “create a common overarching framework to address pressing challenges in the national system of innovation, involving the higher and further education system, State-owned enterprises and private industries”.
The system would require broad common objectives to align with national priorities and the plan suggests that the fields of water, power, marine, space and software engineering also be given special attention.
A transformation of the age, race and gender of research personnel in educational institutions, research councils and private companies is also targeted, with the plan promoting for more funding and capacity development programmes to support young, female and black researchers.
An increase in funding for postgraduates, senior researchers and partnerships between universities and industry is also proposed with a more stable funding model being required for all educations institutions undertaking research, with an aim towards expanding research capacity and research output.
A proposal in the NDP 2030 likely to be welcomed by some educational institutions is that immigration requirements for highly skilled researchers, technicians and science and mathematics teachers should be relaxed and the movement of people, ideas and goods should be encouraged across the Eastern and Southern African region.
Citing the Square Kilometre Array project as an example, the plan also adds that the country should develop a few world-class centres and programmes within both the national system of innovation and the higher education sector over the next 18 years, specifically in areas where the country may have a competitive advantage.
In terms of the private enterprises, the plan urges that government must create an investment climate which encourages the private sector to develop innovative products, services and technologies for both local and international markets. “The freedom of scientists to investigate and of entrepreneurs to innovate is critical. The government must support collaboration between the business, academic and public sectors,” it says.
Edited by: Mariaan Webb© Reuse this Comment Guidelines (150 word limit)
Creamer Media Senior Researcher and Deputy Editor Online
Other Science and Technology News
Updated 4 hours ago Having received direct approval in 2014 from aerospace major Airbus that it is a credible supplier, Cape Town-based machined components supplier Daliff Precision Engineering aims to secure machining contracts from international Airbus Tier 1 suppliers within the next...
Updated 4 hours ago In the past two years, European airliner maker Airbus has added eight African and Indian Ocean airlines to its regional operators’ base, continuing a growth trend that began in the mid-1970s and which is firmly on track to meet the region’s future needs for over 970...
Updated 4 hours ago Action video camera manufacturer GoPro aims to broaden the appeal of its range of cameras to include capturing lifestyle and family moments, with its extreme-sports users benefitting from new accessories and broader camera functionalities, says GoPro South Africa...
Recent Research Reports
This Week's Magazine
Updated 4 hours ago The government of Egypt has said it is ready to provide technical assistance to Malawi in the development of the Shire–Zambezi waterway, which is designed to link landlocked Malawi to the Indian Ocean by opening the two rivers for navigation. Egyptian ambassador to...
Updated 4 hours ago Kenya is finally set to start building a new multipurpose petroleum pipeline, after securing a $350-loan from a consortium of banks, including South Africa's Rand Merchant Bank. The other banks in the consortium are the Cooperative Bank of Kenya, Citibank's Kenya...
Updated 4 hours ago Three-dimensional (3D) engineering design models can now be viewed on tablets, which enable stakeholders to view the design without having to buy the design software used to create it, says engineering design firm 3DDraughting executive Marais van Heerden. The...
Updated 4 hours ago Ford’s newest offering in a long list of newcomers to the local market in the last two years is the B-Max multi-activity vehicle (MAV). The B-Max will play in the so called B-MAV segment, or the small MAV segment, currently dominated by Toyota’s Avanza, which sells...
Updated 4 hours ago US vehicle manufacturer Ford has announced that it will assemble its Ranger pickup in Nigeria, starting in October. The plant will be Ford’s first African production location outside South Africa, says Ford Motor Company Sub-Saharan Africa president and CEO Jeff Nemeth.