Africa needs to invest more resources in universities as a commitment to genuinely contribute to economic development and poverty and disease alleviation on the continent, said the Minister of Science and Technology, Naledi Pandor.

Minister Pandor was speaking at an inaugural awards ceremony in Johannesburg,namely, the DST/Southern African Research and Innovation Management Association (SARIMA) Excellence in Research and Innovation Management Awards to celebrate excellence in research and innovation in Southern Africa.

The Minister said that, over the past few years, there had been a notable increase in the demand for higher education in Africa, overstretching institutions beyond capacity.

The majority of mobile students come from less developed countries to developed countries, while mobility within the Commonwealth countries is influenced by cost factors, increased competition in the market and skills shortages.

She said while South Africa had benefited from this increased mobility, the country had not managed to expand the number of researchers, warning that the country was edging towards a demographic cliff ,as half of the country's professors were due to retire in the next decade.

"This is worrying because of their research output. Back in 1994, the over-50-year-old researchers only produced one in 10 credited publications. Now these over-50-year-olds produce five in ten of our scientific papers," said Minister Pandor.

Minister Pandor encouraged students from around the world to study in South Africa, and reiterated government's intention to step up efforts to attract postgraduate students and postdoctoral scientists to the country.

"International students, postgraduates and researchers bring tremendous benefits to South Africa and they make an enormous contribution to the intellectual vibrancy and diversity of our educational institutions."

The Minister added that she was pleased by the significant contribution that SARIMA had made in training research managers and in lead discussions among key innovation stakeholders in the region to develop a model to optimise intellectual property management and technology transfer in South Africa's higher education institutions and science councils.

Among the recipients of this year's awards wasProf. Beverly Kramer, Assistant Dean for Research and Postgraduate Support of University of the Witwatersrand, and Prof. Isaac Mapaure, Research Director of the University of Namibia, who jointly received the Distinguished Contribution to the Research Management Profession Award.

Ms Jaci Barnett, Director of the Department of Innovation Support and Technology Transfer of the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, walked away with the Distinguished Contribution to the Innovation Management Profession Award.

Other winners include:

Organisational Award for Excellence in Research Management

Research Office – UNISA

Organisational Award for Excellence in Innovation Management

Innovus

Early Career Innovation Management Excellence Award

Ms Tandokazi Nquma, IP Analyst, NECSA

Early Career Research Management Excellence Award

Mr Nugent Lewis, NRF Post-Award Grant Administrator, SU

DST/SARIMA Award for Exceptional Leadership in Innovation Management

Dr Michelle Mulder, Head: SHARP & SAAVI Platforms, Medical Research Council

DST/SARIMA Award for Exceptional Leadership in Research Management

Prof. Ramesh Bharuthram, Advisor to the Rector, University of the Western Cape

 

Issued by the Department of Science and Technology

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