The Programme aims to provide an enabling environment for research and knowledge production that promotes strategic development of basic sciences and priority science areas, through science promotion, human capital development, the provision of research infrastructure and relevant research support, in pursuit of South Africa's transition to a knowledge economy.

Strategic objectives

  • To contribute to the development of representative, high-level human capital able to pursue locally relevant and globally competitive research and innovation activities.
  • To ensure availability of and access to internationally comparable research and innovation infrastructure in order to generate new knowledge and train new researchers.
  • To support and promote research that develops basic sciences through the production of new knowledge and relevant training opportunities.
  • To strategically develop priority science areas in which South Africa enjoys a competitive advantage, by promoting internationally competitive research and training activities and outputs.
  • To promote public engagement in STI.


  1. Human Capital and Science Promotion formulates and implements policies and strategies that address the availability of human capital for STI, and that provide fundamental support for research activities. The chief directorate provides strategic direction and support to institutions mandated with human capital development and increased knowledge production, as well as interfacing with relevant stakeholders in this regard. In addition, the chief directorate is responsible for science awareness and promotion, including activities targeting the youth through SAASTA.
  2. Basic Sciences and Infrastructure facilitates the strategic implementation of research and innovation equipment and infrastructure to promote knowledge production in areas of national priority and to sustain R&D-led innovation. The chief directorate also promotes the development and strengthening of basic or foundational sciences, such as physics, chemistry, biological and life sciences, geographic and geological sciences, and human and social sciences.
  3. Science Missions promotes the development of research, the production of scientific knowledge, and human capital development in science areas in which South Africa enjoys a geographic advantage. These areas include the dynamics of climate site2016 and its impact on Earth systems, Antarctic and marine research, palaeosciences, and indigenous knowledge systems.
  4. Astronomy supports the development of astronomical sciences around a multi-wavelength research strategy, and provides strategic guidance and support to relevant astronomy institutions in the implementation of DST astronomy programmes. Of particular relevance are the Southern African Large Telescope, the African Very Long Baseline Interferometry Network and the MeerKAT and Square Kilometre Array projects.



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