Aug 15, 2012
Innovation key to progressing SA to high-income status – ManuelBack
Engineering|Africa|Education|Marine|PROJECT|System|Water|Africa|Norway|South Africa|Product|Products|Services|Jacob Zuma|Power|Trevor Manuel|Water
© 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)
Recent Research Reports
Defence 2014: A review of South Africa's defence industry (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Defence 2014 report examines South Africa’s defence industry, with particular focus on the key participants in the sector, the innovations that have come out of the sector, local and export demand, South Africa’s controversial multibillion-rand...
Road and Rail 2014: A review of South Africa's road and rail infrastructure (PDF report)
Creamer Media’s Road and Rail 2014 report examines South Africa’s road and rail transport system, with particular focus on the size and state of the country’s road and rail network, the funding and maintenance of these respective networks, and the push to move road...
Real Economy Year Book 2014 (PDF Report)
This edition drills down into the performance and outlook for a variety of sectors, including automotive, construction, electricity, transport, steel, water, coal, gold, iron-ore and platinum.
Real Economy Insight: Automotive 2014 (PDF Report)
This four-page brief covers key developments in the automotive industry over the past 12 months, including an overview of South Africa’s automotive market, trade figures, production and the policies influencing the sector.
Real Economy Insight: Construction 2014 (PDF Report)
This five-page brief covers key developments in the construction industry over the past 12 months. It provides an overview of the sector and includes details of employment in the sector, infrastructure and municipal spending, as well as insight into companies’...
Real Economy Insight: Electricity 2014 (PDF Report)
This five-page brief covers key developments in the electricity industry over the past 12 months, including details of State-owned power utility Eskom’s generation activities, funding and tariffs, independent power producers and prospects for the sector.
This Week's Magazine
JSE-listed real estate investment trust (REIT) Rebosis Property Fund achieved a distribution growth of 8.1% to 99.45c per linked unit in the financial year ended August 31, despite volatile market conditions.
A low-cost, inflatable incubator won this year’s international James Dyson design award, which aims to encourage and inspire the next generation of design engineers.
The World Bank released its ‘Doing Business 2015: Going Beyond Efficiency’ report last month and ranked South Africa 43 out of 189 global economies for its ease of doing business, with Singapore topping the rankings.
Air Products South Africa officially launched its R300-million Eastern Cape air- separation unit (ASU), at its new manufacturing facility in the Coega Industrial Development Zone (IDZ), earlier this month. It is the second facility that Air Products launched in South...
BMW South Africa (SA) has signed a power purchasing agreement with energy company Bio2Watt. The offtake partnership will bring renewable energy to the carmaker’s Rosslyn plant, north of Pretoria.