Department of Science and Innovation provides critical aid to flood-stricken KZN

The Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation, Dr Blade Nzimande, has lauded the role that science, technology and innovation are playing in response to the recent floods in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN).

 

Addressing the National Council of Provinces yesterday on the budget vote of the Department of Science and Innovation (DSI), the Minister said that satellite imaging was critical to informing planning in KZN following the devastating floods in the province.

 

Satellite imaging provided by the Department’s entity, the South African National Space Agency (SANSA), is making critical inputs on water sources, and is also informing the development of new transport infrastructure systems.

 

SANSA together with its international stakeholders obtained Earth Observation satellite imagery of the areas that are affected by the floods in KZN and some parts of the Eastern Cape, and shared the data with the National Disaster Management Centre and local authorities. The data was provided by Maxar, Airbus, Radarsat Constellation, Copernicus and other providers through the International Charter on Space and Major Disasters, and was analysed by SANSA to map the extent of damage to property and infrastructure in flood-affected areas.

 

In his address to members of Parliament, Dr Nzimande said the work "ranges from road and bridge infrastructure assessments to the Coastal Vulnerability Tool and Index – an interactive decision-support tool and integrated geospatial flooding index for coastal cities and town development. I must indicate, honourable members, that all these capabilities remain readily available for all provinces to use in case of necessity."

 

Earth Observation data is critical for the government to establish the financial requirements and priority areas to focus on to ensure that lives are saved, the negative impact on the economy is minimised, and planning at municipalities is improved.

 

SANSA continues to work with the National Disaster Management Centre on flooded areas in the province, and is also collecting information from the ground on what the immediate needs are, for example, where people could be evacuated to.

 

The Minister also told members of Parliament that the DSI is working to improve the functioning of municipalities in the country, in partnership with the South African Local Government Association. "Through the DSI, we have expanded the number of municipalities participating in the Municipal Innovation Maturity Index (MIMI), a digital tool that provides information on the innovation capabilities and readiness of local government to adopt new technologies," the Minister said.

 

The first national report on the state of innovation in municipalities was launched last year. The target is to assess the innovation capacity of 60% of municipalities across the country by the end of the Medium-Term Strategic Framework period.

 

Regarding the initiative to establish a hydrogen valley in South Africa, the Minister said this could create between 14 000 and 30 000 direct and indirect jobs per year by 2030, and by 2050, potentially contribute up to US$8,8 billion to the country's GDP. The hydrogen valley, he added, could contribute up to $70 million to the platinum industry in South Africa by 2030.

 

For more information, please contact Veronica Mohapeloa at 083 400 5750 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Issued by the Ministry of Higher Education, Science and Innovation.

Enquiries:

Ishmael Mnisi

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