The first SA-China high-tech science and technology exhibition opened at the Sandton International Convention Centre in Johannesburg on 13 October. The South Africa-China exhibition features innovative products and services produced by the two countries.

The countries have been cooperating on science and technology since 1999. The exhibition is aimed at creating a platform for South African and Chinese science councils, academic institutions and industry players to exchange information on new technological trends and foster collaborative linkages.

The three-day event includes discussions on research and development topics such as the beneficiation of herbal/plant bio-resources to benefit the economy for the pharmaceutical and medical industries, the challenges and opportunities for renewable energy in the developing world, and advanced manufacturing.

South Africa is looking to strengthen the country's position as a preferred partner for Chinese industry players wanting to collaborate on local research and development, to attract foreign direct investment in science programmes, to promote special projects such as the Square Kilometre Array, and to create opportunities for human capital development.

A broad spectrum of scientific and innovative programmes and products from South African and Chinese companies are being exhibited, covering the life sciences, robotics, advanced manufacturing and new energy. The products and services on display show how research can lead to innovation to benefit society.

Speaking at the opening event, the Director-General of Science and Technology, Dr Phil Mjwara, welcomed the Chinese delegation to South Africa, saying the occasion would allow for networking and establishing partnerships in research and investment.

"Science today is far removed from the stereotypical perception of mystery and danger, and is increasingly about the establishment of new business models and processes. And those who understand and embrace this approach often succeed before others in bringing new ideas, products and services to society," said Dr Mjwara.

The Director-General said the co-hosting of the event would deepen and intensify the partnership between the two countries. He added that South Africa had a lot to learn from China, particularly in field of enterprise development, as the country had done well in translating research into high-value products.

The Chinese Vice Minister for Science and Technology, Hou Jianguo, said the exhibition had huge potential to further economic growth and improve livelihoods in both countries and in Africa.  He said that innovation was important for enterprise development.

He told delegates at the opening ceremony that China was always willing to work with South Africa's young scientists and research institutions, calling this a powerful strategy through which both countries could implement their development objectives.

Minister Hou said deepening cooperation in human capital development was critical to growing the next generation of scientists, and that China was looking forward to having more young people from South Africa visiting science institutions in China. In this regard, China would train hundreds of young scientists from South Africa over the next five years.

He called on the scientists and exhibitors at the event to take advantage of the next three days, to seek new opportunities and find ways in which they could cooperate with one another.

Issued by the Department of Science and Technology

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