A group of SU postgraduate students and postdocs attended the budget speech vote of minister Naledi Pandor, Minister of Science and Technology. The visit was per invitation by Minister Pandor and facilitated by the Division for Research Development. According to Maryke Hunter-Hüsselmann, who accompanied the group, it was a first time in parliament for most, and therefore a very informative experience. The budget speech vote was preceded by an exhibition in the Iziko Museum and a lecture by Dr Marcus Cornaro, EU Ambassador of the Republic of South Africa. Find a summary of the budget speech vote below.
South Africa is not investing enough in science, technology and innovation – Minister Pandor
South Africa is not investing enough in science, technology and innovation. According to the Minister of Science and Technology, Naledi Pandor, if we do not change this trend, we will be overtaken by nations that have less capacity and knowledge resources than we have. Delivering her Budget Vote speech in Parliament this afternoon, the Minister said the failure to address the funding of this sector is causing the country to neglect several sectors that could offer South Africa talent, new products and real contributions to growth. Minister Pandor said that, despite this, the Department is making good progress in building a strong National System of Innovation. However, there are several areas of science in which we could do much more – such as creating new industries, new products and new services – but all these require additional financial resources.
The Minister said young people have been identified as those most in need of support through skills development and enterprise creation. "We intend to strengthen our efforts to reach the youth."
In this regard, the Department plans to host an inaugural Youth Assembly on the knowledge economy. The Assembly will provide a forum for young people to learn how to create businesses and social enterprises using advances in technology and knowledge. In 2015/16, the DST supported 1 276 youth through the Technology Innovation Agency. This includes support for 52 youth-owned SMEs, 951 youth-owned SMEs that receive support from the Technology Stations Programme, and 273 individuals trained through the Youth Skills Development Programme, with 85 of them receiving international training. The Minister also believes that innovation could play an important role in improving local service delivery and addressing the challenges facing local governments. "We will assist municipalities in creating innovation centres that will work with our agencies, local universities and the private sector. These partnerships will enable us to identify and tackle local and national problems. The Department continues to collaborate with district municipalities to build and strengthen science capacity to advance local economic development," she said.
Over the last year, the Department has formalised cooperation with the South African Local Government Association and the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs to tackle local challenges.
The DST will pilot a grassroots innovation initiative in 2016/17 with a R2 million investment that will focus on supporting innovators and technology entrepreneurs in the informal sector and in marginalised communities.
The DST's total budget for the 2016/17 financial year is R7,4 billion, of which R2,7 billion in Parliamentary Grants is transferred to the entities reporting to the Department, namely –
•the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research – R872 million;
•the National Research Foundation – R883 million;
•the Human Sciences Research Council – R290 million;
•the Technology Innovation Agency – R382 million;
•the South African National Space Agency – R125 million;
•the Academy of Science of South Africa – R23 million.
Issued by the Department of Science and Technology
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