The Minister of Science and Technology Naledi Pandor, believes Africa should host the prestigious World Science Forum in 2021 as it will not only advance science on the continent but globally as well.

Minister Pandor spoke during the closing of the highly successful third installment of the Science Forum South Africa, that attracted over 2000 researchers, academics, and scientists mainly from around this continent this year.


The Minister said the Department of Science and Technology would begin talks with the Hungarian Academy of Science and other organisers of the World Science Forum.


The Minister said the hosting of such an international event would further raise the profile of African science and enhance  the continent’s science prowess on the global stage.


In a bid to boost the training of the next generation of scientists and researchers on the continent, the Minister announced the establishment of five new research chairs at universities around Africa, in commemoration of the 100th year anniversary of the birth of Oliver Tambo.


Discussions were advanced between the Department of Science and Technology (DST) and the Oliver Tambo family and foundation, to create the programme based on the South African Research Chairs model.


The Research Chairs Initiative has enriched South Africa’s science and technology capacities significantly, with close to 200 eminent researchers chairs at universities around the country, significantly increasing and improving research output and providing valuable impetus to advanced researcher training.


“There was a strong call at the Forum for governments to invest in science and innovation in Africa and to develop robust national systems of innovation. Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa tasked us to design innovation systems that encourage young people to turn ideas into products and services,” said the Minister.


In response to the Deputy President’s call, the DST will strategically leverage South Africa’s current leadership of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) to support the development of national and regional innovation systems.   


“As political support and appreciation of science is critical, the DST as a first step in partnering with UNESCO, would also facilitate a science and technology policy orientation course for parliamentarians, early in 2018 – in anticipation of a significant rise in the number of parliamentarians participating in next year’s Forum,” she said.



The closing ceremony also saw Science Diplomacy Awards conferred on several scientists on the continent. Prof Phuti Ngoepe of the University of Limpopo received the Human Capital Development Award, for his efforts to leverage international cooperation to support the career development of young scientists in Africa.


Prof Arun Kulshreshtha, the outgoing Director-General of the Non-Aligned Movement Centre for Science and Technology received the International Peace Understanding and Solidarity Award, for successfully ensuring the centre succeeds despite limited resources.


Former CEO of the SA Human Science Research, Dr Olive Shisana received the Science Diplomacy Award for putting science at service for fostering international friendship, for her contribution throughout her career to advance South Africa’s position in the global science arena including in advancing the women and science agenda.


Mr Robert-Jan Smits the European Commission’s Director-General for Research, Innovation and Science, received the Excellence in Global Science Award for his contributions over more than a decade to the strategic South Africa-EU science partnership.


Dr Heide Hackmann of ICSU received the award for harnessing scientific advice for multilateral decisionmaking. Dr Hackmann has demonstrated exceptional leadership to facilitate the merger of the ICSU and the International Social Science Council.


Issued by the Department of Science and Technology


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