South Africa and Germany agree to cooperate on research towards the just energy transition

Min Nzimande German 4V

On 27 March 2023, South Africa and Germany signed a Joint Declaration of Intent to create the framework for establishing a bilateral research chair on the topic of the just energy transition.

The Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation, Dr Blade Nzimande, signed the agreement with the German Minister of Education and Research, Ms Bettina Stark-Watzinger in Cape Town.

This partnership will allow for continuous investments to advance the 1996 South African-German agreement on cooperation in research, science and technology.

The declaration will facilitate the transition from a fossil-fuel-based energy production system to a carbon-neutral energy system, which is required for both countries' socio-economic development.

At the signing ceremony, Minister Nzimande said that both countries see this transition as critical for both socio-economic and ecological development.

"Both our countries are interested in consolidating and continuing cooperation in order to build on longstanding joint activities under the 1996 agreement," Minister Nzimande added.

According to Ms Stark-Watzinger, South Africa and Germany are working together to ensure that the just energy transition is indeed fair and equitable.

"It is critical to monitor the social consequences of the transition process. The bilateral research chair will be critical in achieving this goal", she said.

The following topics of discussion were identified:

  • Scientific monitoring of the social, economic and ecological effects of structural change, especially in mining regions.
  • The development of a holistic research approach to understand the multiple implications and effects of this complex transition process.
  • The involvement of relevant social and political stakeholders in the research process to contribute to improving the framework conditions for a socially just energy transition.
  • The promotion of a constructive discourse culture between society, politics and science, and the strengthening of science communication.
  • The strengthening of scientific and social exchange on both sides to promote knowledge-based societies and social, economic and ecological stability in both countries.

Minister Stark-Watzinger visited South Africa for two days, from 27 to 28 March 2023, to strengthen bilateral relations and celebrate the success of the German-funded Research Networks for Health Innovation in Sub-Saharan Africa (RHISSA) programme, among other things.  The RHISSA programme has received a €50 million investment over five years and is now in its second phase.

Minister Stark-Watzinger also paid a visit to the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) site in Carnarvon, Northern Cape, in anticipation of Germany's full membership in the SKA Observatory.

Minister Stark listeningV


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