South Africa has launched a cooperation agreement that will see the country looking  to China for its expertise in constructing high technology facilities with global growth potential.

South Africa is confident it can build an industrial development partnership with global growth potential in areas such as ICTs, advanced manufacturing, bio-economy, and renewable energy, among others.

The Minister of Science and Technology, Naledi Pandor, and the Vice Premier of China, Liu Yangdong, launched the South Africa-China Science Park Cooperation in Pretoria on 24 April, during the inaugural China-South Africa High-Level People-to-People exchange mechanism.

A high-level Chinese delegation arrived in South Africa this weekend, to co-host the three-day mechanism expected to create opportunities for both countries to benefit from the sharing of social, cultural and economic capital – across government, academia, business and civil society.

The two countries hope that the mechanism will deepen mutual understanding between the peoples of South Africa and China, and enhance people to people exchanges and cooperation in the areas of culture, education, communications, health, science, technology, sports, tourism, women and youth.

Welcoming the launch of the science park initiative, Minister Pandor South Africa appreciated the global leadership provided by China on how to turn science and research effectively into innovation and production.

Minister Pandor said South Africa was committed to the development of a network of science parks and special economic zones at a scale and pace that matched the country’s fiscal and other resource realities.

Worldwide, science parks support university-industry and government collaboration with the intent to advance knowledge and promote technological and economic developments.

One of the most advanced in China is the Zhongguancun Science Park which is one of the technology centres in the world and is growing fast, gathering thousands of high and new-tech enterprises featuring electronic information, biomedicine, energy and environmental protection, new materials, advanced manufacturing, aerospace engineering, R&D and services.

Minister Pandor said South Africa was looking to the development of multiple research and innovation spaces in a rational and sustainable way, which would tackle the spatial legacy left by apartheid planning.

In parallel to advancing a long-term high-technology industrial development partnership, South Africa has identified short-term opportunities which will offer significant opportunities for China to expand its R&D and innovation activities into South Africa.

This will include the development of new R&D facilities and infrastructure as well as strengthening existing facilities and infrastructures at universities, science councils and a number of private sector R&D efforts.

With the establishment of over a hundred science and technology parks across China, Ms Liu Yandong said the cooperation was the highlight of the strategic partnership which offered a new mechanism for both countries to catalyse growth and development.

The Vice Premier said innovation was a driving force behind development which has seen China’s economy grow enourmously. For this reason, China was committed to sharing expertise with South Africa to promote high-tech innovation that would lead to more benefits to the people.

As an action to implement the cooperation, business, scientists and government conducted a workshop during they exchanged information and researches on science parks.

The two countries also signed two other cooperation agreements, to establish a young scientists exchange programme and to establish joint research centres.