Deputy Minister of Higher Education, Science and Technology, Honourable Bhuti Manamela
Director-General of the Department, Dr Phil Mjwara
Officials of the Department of Science and Technology
Chairpersons and CEOs of the  entities
Ladies and Gentlemen
Members of the media

Let me take this moment my condolences to Mandla Maseko’s family, friends and colleagues.

Mandla, popularly known as “Spaceboy” and “Afronaut”, passed away in a bike crash on Sunday, 7th July 2019.
 
Set to become the first black African to go to space, 30-year old Mr Maseko was a young, vibrant role-model to thousands of young people, particularly those interested in space science.

From the dusty streets of Soshanguve in Tshwane, he beat a million people to become one of 23 to secure a seat on a sub-orbital trip to space sponsored by the Axe Apollo Space Academy. May his soul rest in peace.
 
Our budget vote will be guided by our adoption of the new White Paper on Science, Technology and Innovation which moving forward guides our National System of Innovation.

We are also developing a new decadal plan on science, technology innovation for South Africa.

This plan will set out more specific areas in which as a Department will be focusing our efforts to use of science, technology and innovation to deliver equitable social and economic advancement for the South African people.

This plan will be significant as we grapple with the technologies of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR).

To this end, we will continue to intensify our focus and investment in building capacity in our country in order to respond to and drive the 4IR.

I must also indicate that our department again was rated among the top performers in the Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation’s most recent Management Performance Assessment Tool process.

In the 2017/18 financial year, our department obtained a clean audit outcome and our performance against predetermined objectives was maintained at 89%.

This therefore means that we are indeed a performing department that execute its mandate and function to change the lives of South Africans.

Ladies and gentlemen

President Cyril Ramaphosa led the 1st South African Digital Economy Summit,  at Gallagher Convention Centre in Johannesburg last week.

The Summit was meant to define and redefine our society and explore the future of a digitally enabled economy that is transformative, fair, sustainable and competitive.

Over the years, the Department of Science and Technology, has sharpened its focus on ways in which its portfolio of work and the broader NSI  can contribute to the reduction in inequality, poverty and unemployment.

As such, the implementation of the policy imperatives of the National Development Plan  (vision 2030) will continue to take precedence.

We will also continue to play our role in driving and advocating for increases in gross investment in research and development as a percentage of Gross Domestic Product with the aim of achieving the National Development target of 1, 5%.  

This will continue to be accompanied by the implementation of our tax incentives in investment in research and development.

With the budget for 2019/20 increase to R8,150 billion from the R7,790 billion allocated in 2018/19,  we have identified initiatives to develop new research and development of industries that could help improve South Africa's value addition in what we produce and export.

The Department is thus funding a number of initiatives that are expected to contribute towards this goal; for example, the launch of the Mandela Mining Precinct, a project established to facilitate the coordination of mining research, development and innovation activities and collaboration among stakeholders.  

Furthermore, our commitment to improve and advance the well-being of South Africans is demonstrated in various projects aimed at unlocking economic development opportunities for marginalised and excluded communities.  

To this end, we are taking our grassroots innovation programme to the next level of scale-up, following a successful pilot phase that generated the required learnings on how best to design and deliver support to grassroots innovators.  

During the new phase, the programme will be expanded to support at least 100 beneficiaries.

We are going to substantially expand the agriculture and agroprocessing sector by supporting key value chains and products, developing new markets and reducing our reliance on agricultural imports.  

Our target for the next five years is value chain development for grains (wheat, maize, soybean, sorghum and canola), fruit and vegetables, and the forestry interventions of the Agricultural Policy Action Plan (APAP).

In addition,  we are facilitating the development of evidence-based models to boost the competitiveness of targeted value chains.  

We have established a new instrument, the Agriculture Bioeconomy Innovation Partnership Programme (ABIPP), which has ring-fenced funding and will be managed by the Technology Innovation Agency (TIA).  

Examples of current projects include, Wheat Breeding Platform, the animal improvement, the Bioinnovation Aquaculture Programme, and the Soybean Food and Nutrition.

As a department we continue to bring the much more need innovation, including in the taxi industry.

We have provided support Quicloc8, a technology company proudly owned by a young black entrepreneur, Mr Mbavhalelo Mabogo.  

Quicloc8 has developed a suite of technologies to support the taxi industry by enabling owners to track their vehicles, trips, routes and passenger head counts in real time via their mobile phones.  

Among others, this will assist in reducing accidents and fatalities caused by speeding and overloading.  

Quicloc8 is joining other exhibiters who have graced our budget vote activities at the Iziko Museum today.

Ladies and gentlemen

The Department launched and celebrated the completion of the 64-dish MeerKAT, the world's largest radio telescope and a precursor to the Square Kilometre Array (SKA).  

The mega infrastructure project continues to generate new findings that are adding to the global body of radio astronomy knowledge.  

In the 2019/20 financial year, we will see the continuation of this work, as scientists around the world have demonstrated prodigious enthusiasm to use the MeerKAT facility to generate knowledge.

We also celebrate and commend the great work done by respective members of the international engineering consortia, of which South Africa forms part through various institutions, that has led to the completion of the design phase of the SKA.

The completion of this phase deals with getting the look and functionality of various intricate elements of the SKA to function as a whole in a manner that meets Science Goals.

As South Africa, we celebrate the successfully launched the ZACube-2 satellite.  Described as the most advanced satellite on the continent, ZACube-2 provides cutting-edge remote sensing and communication services to South Africa and the region.  

As a Country, we also celebrate the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) selection of the South African National Space Agency (SANSA) as a regional centre to provide space weather services to the global aviation sector for the African region.

This designation means that SANSA will play an important role in the improvement of aviation safety, and the mitigation of potential costs to the aviation sector that may result from adverse space weather conditions.

SANSA has  joined other exhibitors at the Iziko Museum to showcase their innovations.

As a department we have also entered into the space of the development of new value chains from renewable biomass. We have prioritised this venture because of the fact that a number of mature industries are facing issues of sustainability, and many are in fact declining.  

Both the sugar industry and the paper and pulp industry, for example, are facing decreasing demands for their primary commodities.  

In this regard, we have taken a decision to support the Biorefinery Innovation Programme with funding of R18 million over three years.




Ladies and gentlemen

South Africa needs green chemistry technologies to produce value-added products, in particular chemically complex pharmaceutical intermediates.  

We are therefore support other green manufacturing solutions such Biocatalysis can be used in the manufacturing of value-added products, the synthesis of pharmaceuticals, and the development of biorefineries that can yield renewable chemicals and liquid fuels.

We also have established an Indigenous Knowledge-Based Bioinnovation unit, with six platforms covering African natural medicines, cosmeceuticals, nutraceuticals, health infusions, technology transfer, and commercialisation.  

We have also initiated Agri-businesses for propagation of indigenous medicines and food in all provinces except the Northern Cape.   

Over 60 scientifically evaluated products are being commercialised locally and internationally by SMMEs.  Three commercial patents for tuberculosis therapies, and two for cosmeceuticals, have been registered by the University of Pretoria.

Through our  Agriculture Bioeconomy Innovation Partnership Programme (ABIPP), we  have funded agroprocessing initiatives through the Technology Innovation Agency (TIA) in support of marula, honeybush and Cape aloe.  

The three projects aim to develop and commercialise these indigenous crops, exploiting new market opportunities for job creation and local benefit.  

A marula community development programme in Hoedspruit, Limpopo, co-funded by the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) and TIA, was initiated.

A new project to expand the processing of honeybush to more communities, coupled with support for innovation to speed up the fermentation process, is currently being supported at the Agricultural Research Council (ARC).

In addition, several initiatives were undertaken to promote cooperatives and agroprocessing initiatives.

We have launched the initiatives to rejuvenate the titanium industry in South Africa.  This has been done through the manufacturing of titanium powder, developing the next-generation additive manufacturing machine, Aeroswift, as well as the Fluorochemicals Expansion Initiative and the fuel cell development initiative.

With an investment of over R100 million, Aeroswift is currently the largest and fastest hot-bed additive manufacturing platform in the world, and has progressed to the point where components have been manufactured for a South African high-performance light reconnaissance aircraft.  

Discussions are under way to build a dedicated facility housing two industrial Aeroswift printers that will be able to manufacture a new range of components for export to global aerospace leaders.  

I am pleased that a lot of progress has been made in preparing the country for a hydrogen economy.  

To date, the work of the HySA programme has resulted in the establishment of spin-out companies whose products are attracting market interest.  

We have also started rolling out demonstrations for the provision of electricity and mobility using platinum-based hydrogen fuel cells.  

Later this year, through the HySA programme, we will be collaborating with the Department of Energy, iLembe District Municipality, global fuel cell manufacturers, and local black-owned companies to power over 200 households in a rural community in KwaZulu-Natal using HySA-generated intellectual property.  

Ladies and gentlemen

We have initiated a new Carbon Capture Storage by using RDI Flagship Programme, which aims to integrate aspects of digitisation and the circular economy in order to extract chemical elements from waste gases in an environmentally sustainable manner.  

Furthermore, the programme has the potential to ensure security of supply for selected chemical commodities, while creating new asset classes, new local manufacturing industries, and new export opportunities into Africa and the rest of the world.

In doing so, we also honour South Africa’s international greenhouse gas commitments.

In 2018, we established the Medical Devices and Diagnostic Technology Innovation Cluster to exploit the country's high concentration of skills, expertise and infrastructure in the field of medical devices and diagnostics.  

The initiative is aimed at stimulating and intensifying technology innovation within the sector as well as creating an enabling environment for increased competitiveness.  

Let me also report that the development of the ability to locally develop and manufacture vaccines and biologics is proceeding well under the South African Biologics and Vaccine Institute (Biovac).  

Existing partnerships with Pfizer and Novartis have moved us closer to realising the dream of manufacturing vaccines locally, while research partnerships with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation are working to develop new vaccines for developing countries.

I am pleased to report that progress has been made towards establishing a fund that will help bring locally developed innovations into the market.  

The fund is designed to largely de-risk the early stages of technology commercialisation and/or business development.  

An injection of R1 billion per year for five years is expected to make a significant impact in making these businesses more attractive to investors for significant scale-up.

Since 2010, when the Publicly Financed Research and Development Act (IPR Act) came into effect, there have been significant increases in applications for IP rights, rights granted, licences issued to third parties to ensure that intellectual property finds application, and the number of start-ups coming out of our institutions.  

The role of government, and in this case of NIPMO, is to be an enabler, supporting the establishment of offices of technology transfer (OTTs) at all our higher education institutions and science councils.  

There is a unique role here for postgraduates who have the requisite scientific background but are lacking in on-the-job experience in IP management and technology transfer.  

Amongst others, it is this digital compact, with economic justice, social benefit and innovation at its heart, that crystallises our commitment as a Department to realise the new social compact to which the President referred  to in the  State of the Nation Address.

Given what we know today about the potential beneficial impacts of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, we must embrace this historic confluence of human insights and engagement, artificial intelligence and technology, to rise to the challenges of poverty, unemployment and inequality.

For the coming decade, this programme of transformation will be focused on growing the South Africa we want.

I thank you