The third Science Forum South Africa (SFSA) kicked off in Pretoria on Thursday, with Science and Technology Minister Naledi Pandor saying groundbreaking scientific innovations were changing the African continent.
"This forum will cover a broad range of topical issues with regards to the role of science in society. Our forum has three primary objectives, first to put science in the service of African society. We believe it is through science that many of the challenges faced by our communities can be addressed. Secondly, we intend to promote international collaboration," Pandor said in her speech, welcoming delegates from across the world to the Pretoria gathering.
"We believe it's through collaboration that our ties are strengthened, that science not only becomes stronger in Africa, but globally and that groundbreaking research is enabled. Thirdly, we wish to showcase African science and technology to the world. We want to change the way they talk about us."
The two-day SFSA is regarded as Africa's largest "open science" event, aimed at stimulating debate on the role of science in society.
The programme comprises plenary panel debates, short seminars and talks, with the participation of local and international thought leaders from the scientific community.
The national department of science and technology said the forum has a special focus on promoting pan-African cooperation in science and technology, and on the role of innovation in promoting inclusive development.
Organised in 2017 for the third time, the SFSA has become an annual highlight for the South African science community, and has achieved global acclaim as Africa's premier public platform for debate on science and its role in society.
Earlier, Communications Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane spoke about the importance of the media in the development of science.
"Journalism can play a greater and more meaningful role in ensuring that citizens have greater access to information and scientific discoveries and science in general. If we allow a scientific information deficit to arise we risk creating a new divide between those with access to scientific resources and those who have none," she said.
"It is therefore our joint responsibility as government and media to contribute to the development of this country's reporting about science matters."