The Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation, Dr Blade Nzimande, will conclude the new science and innovation collaborative Research and Development (R&D) as well as the higher education student exchange agreements with the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Minister Nzimande is amongst the Ministers joining President Cyril Ramaphosa in a working visit to the UAE.

The Minister’s visit serves to obtain first-hand insights into the political, economic and social policy environments, which are supporting the UAE’s successful transition to a knowledge economy.

“The insights gained will inform not only the strategic orientation of the new cooperation initiatives with the UAE, but will also serve as a valuable instrument for policy learning as South Africa shares several of the ambitions and objectives as that of the UAE for science, innovation and education as set out in South Africa’s new Decadal Plan for Science, Technology and Innovation,” said Minister Nzimande.

The Minister says the UAE’s world-leading effort to deploy new disruptive technologies such as Artificial Intelligence for social advancement is of specific interest for South Africa.
This area will also be the focus of the World Government Summit, hosted by the UAE Government, which the Minister will attend on the 29th March 2022.

The governance of new technologies such as AI, and ensuring they are aligned with values such as inclusivity, diversity and equality, are policy priorities shared by the South Africa and the UAE.  Both countries accordingly host affiliates of the World Economic Forum’s Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution, which are platforms for public-private partnerships to design technology governance frameworks, which will enable the deployment of these technologies for optimal societal benefit.

In South Africa, the Affiliate is hosted at the CSIR and in the UAE, by the Dubai Future Foundation.    in this regard, Minister Nzimande visited the Dubai Future Foundation’s renowned Museum of the Future, which examines the future impact of science and technology on society.

The Minister also visited the Mohamed bin Zayed University of Artificial Intelligence.   The University is the world’s first exclusively dedicated to research and post-graduate education in AI.

During the discussions between Minister Nzimande and the University leadership, concrete opportunities for collaboration were identified for example through student exchanges and collaborative research with South Africa’s Centre for Artificial Intelligence Research and the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences based in Cape Town.

Amongst others, topics for research could include molecular dynamics and machine learning in drug design, the use of artificial intelligence to analyse big data from astronomy, for example related to the global Square Kilometer Array (SKA) radio telescope project, or the ethics of Artificial Intelligence.

Collaboration will also be explored with regard to an executive leadership programme focused on AI for senior South African public sector leaders.

The Minister also visited to the Dubai Expo to support South Africa’s participation.   The South African pavilion notably includes digital display of flagship South African science and innovation programmes, such as the SKA project and the work of the South African National Space Agency, health innovation and vaccine manufacturing and support for innovation and entrepreneurship.

The Minister at the Expo also met with “Dubai Cares” a global philanthropic organisation based in the UAE and focused on supporting the use of new technology tools and platforms to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, especially with regard to Early Childhood Development and education.

There is rich potential for South Africa and the foundation to partner in investing in science and technology programmes, also elsewhere in Africa, in support of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

During this visit, Minister Nzimande is meeting with senior UAE government leaders such as His Excellency Hussain Ibrahim Al Hammadi, Minister of Education, and His Excellency Omar bin Sultan Al Olama, Minister of State for Artificial Intelligence, Digital Economy and Remote Work Applications.

Issued by:
Ministry of Higher Education, Science and Innovation
Meiring Naude Road
Enquiries: Ishmael Mnisi 0660378859


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