Minister Pandor's speech introducing the Science and Technology budget vote, 19 April 2016

Chairperson, Honourable Members, Guests.

I'm pleased to report that the Department of Science and Technology is one of three national departments that achieved a clean audit for 2014/2015 financial year. We hope to do as well in the next audit outcomes report.

In the 2015/16 budget speech I announced several priorities and I will report on some of them today.

I announced 20 new research chairs designated for women applicants, as only 35 out of 150 South African Research chairs (SARCHi) were held by women at the time.

I'm pleased to report that the department exceeded that target; 42 new research chairs were awarded to successful women applicants, raising the percentage of women in SARCHi chairs from 23% to 39%. We must still do more to address this inequality.

In addition, two United Kingdom-South Africa bilateral research chairs have been awarded for research into food security one co-hosted by the Universities of the Western Cape and Pretoria, and the other based at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University.

I'm pleased to report that the SKA human capital programme, aimed at developing a new generation of young researchers and engineers, has gone from strength to strength. The initiative started with an intake of nine students 11 years ago and has supported 730 students and researchers, from undergraduate to postdoctoral level.

The first 16 MeerKAT antennae will be ready for science by 30 June 2016with 21 antennae in place, fewer than planned, but enough to allow scientists to begin work.

In 2016 over R1billion will be invested in the construction of Meerkat and in providing for SKA project costs.

The Department is positioning South Africa and the continent as a hub of research excellence with world-class facilities for multi-wavelength astronomy. This financial year a strategy on multi-wavelength astronomy will be finalised, consolidating optical, radio and gamma ray astronomy facilities under a single astronomy sub-agency in the NRF. In support of this consolidated approach, I have approved a recommendation from the NRF to merge the Hartebeeshoek Radiostronomy Observatory and the SKA project into a new South African Radioastronomy Observatory.

I announced in 2015 we would develop a Global Knowledge Partnerships programme to enable South African PHD training abroad and we are finalising agreements with various international partners.

I announced in 2015 the DST's continued investment through Pelchem in the Fluorochemical Expansion Initiative. Pelchem is making good progress in the expansion initiative and the DST continues to fund the initiative through the R45 million announced last year. Success will allow Pelchem to develop promising new technologies and fluorochemical products and to double their turnover to R400 million per annum by 2019.

Our strategic investment in developing a disruptive and novel technology to produce titanium metal powder continues, we have redesigned the pilot plant to restart test runs from October 2016.

In 2015 I announced the introduction of the Sector Innovation Fund programme. Overall, the Programme has attracted R53.6 million of new private sector co-funding for the R139 million that government is investing.

We meet today in a context where we are confronted by many opportunities and challenges. Vision 2030, our National Development Plan, states that we need to create 11 million jobs in the next fifteen years and give impetus to our growth aspirations by making effective use of innovation, science and technology to create new enterprises and increase the number of knowledge workers.

It's against this background that I present the 2016/17 budget of the Department of Science and Technology.

The Department's budget for 2016/17 is R7,4 billion, which is the same as it was for 2015/16. South Africa is not investing enough in science, technology and innovation, if we do not site2016 this trend we will be overtaken by nations that have less capacity and knowledge resources than we have. Our failure to address the funding of this sector is causing us to neglect several sectors that could offer South Africa talent, new products and real contributions to growth.

Despite this, the Department is making good progress in building a strong national innovation system. There are several areas of science in which we could do much more - create new industries, new products, new services - but all these require additional financial resources.

Knowledge and innovation for the youth

The Department funds various initiatives directed at improving the education and socio-economic status of our youth. Science and technology can play an effective role in addressing the challenges faced by young people.

  • In 2015/16 we supported 1276 youth through the Technology Innovation Agency. This includes support for 52 youth owned SMMEs, 951 youth owned SMMEs that receive support from the Technology Stations Programme, and 273 individuals trained through the Innovation Skills Development, 85 of them received international training.
  • The Department plans to host an inaugural Youth Assembly on the knowledge economy. The Assembly will provide a forum for young people to learn how to create businesses and social enterprises using advances in technology and knowledge.
  • The Department has allocated R20 million, as part of the Operation Phakisa Oceans Economy, to supporting aquaculture activities in marginalised coastal communities, with a focus on women and the youth.
  • Building on the successes of mLab Southern Africa, a mobile solutions laboratory and start-up accelerator designed to help young ICT entrepreneurs, an allocation of R6 million will allow us to expand the initiative beyond Gauteng and the Western Cape to the Northern Cape, Limpopo and KwaZulu-Natal. We also want to reach young people in in Soweto, Mamelodi and Soshanguve.
  • Last year more than 2 million people, most of them young, participated in DST led science engagement activities co-ordinated by SAASTA.
  • The Department will spend R30 million on the construction of a science centre in Cofimvaba, Eastern Cape and there will be a sod-turning ceremony during youth month in June.
  • The Square Kilometre Array project continues to support learners from Carnarvon to study tertiary-level engineering and science. Five are in the gallery - Anver Adams, Kyle Henderson, Janethon de Klerk, Cedwell Abdol and Bradley Bosman. These five pupils scored exemptions in mathematics and physical sciences in the 2015 National Senior Certificate exams, the best ever for Carnarvon High.
  • This year the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research will support 50 students through the Data Science Skills Development programme. Last year 33 third-year computer science electrical engineering and statistics students were trained. Students in this programme provide data-related business solutions to various stakeholders, including government departments and industry.
  • Our internship programme with the Da Vinci Institute, through which we placed unemployed graduates at some of Technology Top 100 Companies, has since 2012 placed more than 170 young people.

Innovation and local service delivery

I believe innovation can play an important role in improving local service delivery and addressing challenges facing local governments.

The Department will continue working with other departments and local authorities, forging partnerships and providing technical support to demonstrate, customise and assess innovative service delivery technologies. Through demonstrations and testing the Department has already produced several evidence-based knowledge products that support decision-making and the provision of public services in areas such as water, sanitation, energy and housing. Notable successes in the last financial year include the finalisation of a bioenergy Atlas and the development of a Sanitation Technology Evaluation and Assessment Database and Tool.

Innovation is increasingly crucial for local economic development. The Department invests in pilot projects to optimise the role of science and technology in the creation of sustainable livelihoods including initiatives towards the community-based processing of traditional medicines, cosmeceuticals and nutraceuticals.

I'dlike to acknowledge some important partners from Giyani. Here today are Hosi Ngove, Ms Petra Terblanche, Mr Thembani Sithole, Ms Xongisa Thandy Chavalala, and Ms Anniky Nkosi Shiviti. They are involved in the Hi Hanyile project, which, after collaborative studies on indigenous plants conducted by scientists and traditional healers, improved the production process of producing commercially viable mosquito-repellent candles.

The Department was responsible for the initial pilot, and the Department of Trade and Industry-affiliated SA Essential Oils Business Incubator has been engaged to assist Hi Hanyile to transition into a business by providing incubation services, quality assurance skills and services, and market linkages.

Honourable Members, I am sure you will agree that Hi Hanyile is a good illustration of innovation for sustainable local development.

The Department has several initiatives aimed at supporting our local municipalities.

  • The Department continues to collaborate with district municipalities to build and strengthen science capacity to advance local economic development. Over the last year, we have formalized cooperation with the South African Local Government Association (SALGA) and the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA).
  • Science and Technology will therefore provide a further R14 million investment to support agroprocessing in distressed municipalities such as Greater Tzaneen and Greater Giyani, both in Limpopo, and Intsika Yethu in Cofimvaba. Young people and women will be specifically targeted for support.
  • The Department will continue to collaborate with the SALGA through a partnership with the Water Research Commission on the WADER technology demonstration programme: R12,6 million has been allocated for the implementation of the Water Research, Development and Innovation Roadmap.
  • The Department will pilot a grassroots innovation initiative in 2016/17 with a R2 million investment that will focus on supporting innovators and technology entrepreneurs in the informal sector and in marginalised communities.

We will assist municipalities in creating innovation centres that will work with our agencies, local universities and the private sector. These partnerships will enable us to identify and tackle local and national problems

Transforming our research capacity

Chairperson, Honourable Members, the Department's strategic objective is to increase the capacity and contribution of the national innovation system to South Africa's economic growth. Key interventions include support for human capital development and research infrastructure.

An amount of R4,2 billion is allocated to our Research Development and Support branch.

In 2016 the Department invests R741 million in supporting 14 500 postgraduate students (black: 9715 (67%) female: 8265 (57%). The Department is the largest funder of postgraduate students in the country.

Our support for the provision of and access to research, development and innovation infrastructure across the NSI is crucial. Funding in the budget is provided:

  • To support the development of the South African Infrastructure Roadmap through an amount of R180 million to prioritise national research infrastructure needs.
  • To implement the National Integrated Cyber Infrastructure System through an allocation of R273 million. TheCSIRwill award a regional Tier Two data node and a national teaching and training platform for e-skills to two consortia of universities and research institutions next month. A significant amount will be invested in big data, moving South Africa further on its path to becoming a knowledge economy. It is estimated that between 23 000 to 31 000 specialists with deep analytics and big data skills will be needed by 2018.
  • To support the Centre for High Performance Computing, which has just installed its new supercomputer to provide 1 000 teraflops (1 petaflop) of computing power to researchers. The facility was upgraded to meet the growing demand for use by university and industrial researchers. The centre is a member of the international SKA Science Data Processing Consortium, and with funding from the Department is also supporting eight African SKA partner countries through this initiative. The SKA remains a major platform for cutting-edge innovation in domains such as supercomputing the high-speed transmission and processing of massive data sets.
  • To continue supporting the South African National Research Network, which has grown to over 1 100 km of dark fibre and 3 500 km of managed bandwidth, connecting more than 200 sites from Thohoyandou to Cape Town. This includes all the main campuses of all South African universities and most public research institutions, as well as global projects such as the SKA and the MeerKAT.
  • To fund selected responses to the first call for proposals to address the funding gap of multi-institutional projects for medium to large infrastructure projects in excess of R10 million. Such projects cannot be catered for by either the National Equipment Programme or the NRF's Strategic Research Equipment Programme. The call will be issued in this financial year.

Knowledge and innovation for new industry development

The Department's two innovation branches Socio-economic Innovation Partnerships and Technology Innovation have been allocated R2,7 billion for 2016/17.

In the State of the Nation Address, the President announced the establishment of state-owned company Ketlaphela to build South Africa's capacity to manufacture active pharmaceutical ingredients for key HIV medicines and other drugs.

Over the next three years R5,2 million has been allocated for Ketlaphela. This initiative will create jobs, transfer technology, reduce the country's technology balance of payment in pharmaceuticals, and improve the delivery of high quality medicines for the treatment of high burden diseases such as cancer, tuberculosis and HIV. Ketlaphela-branded antiretroviral tablets will be provided from the beginning of 2017 at public health facilities.

Several initiatives that I announced to this house are now integrated into government's Nine-Point Plan. Our investment in these initiatives is aimed at creating new industries or expanding existing industries. These include research and development-led industrial initiatives in hydrogen fuel cells, composites and additive manufacturing.

The Department has invested R105 million through the Technology Localisation Programme to support 147 South African manufacturing companies. Through this programme the Department supports 32 companies that are linked to major localisation projects. In the 2016/17 financial year, R33 million has been allocated to support these companies. The Department also plans to finalise a full impact assessment of this programme, noting, for instance, that 20 firms that were supported with an amount of R25 million have secured more than R162 million in contracts.

The Technology Stations Programme provides broad-based technology support to small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and industry in general through 18 technology stations, mainly attached to universities of technology. In the past year, these stations supported more than 2 000 SMEs to enhance their technologies, skills and products with the aim of substantially increasing their manufacturing activity and exports.

The Department intends to strengthen the impact of the technology stations. This includes expanding the programme to Mpumalanga and North West Province, leveraging competencies and training facilities to help increase employment in the 24-34 age group.

The development of a next-generation additive-manufacturing machine, project Aeroswift, continues. The addition of a new laser source has enabled the Aerosud-CSIR team to develop solutions to the main technical challenges that were identified during the 2015/16 financial year.

The Department plans to develop a commercialisation strategy for Aeroswift, with revenue streams envisaged for the local manufacturing of components for the aerospace, automotive, medical and dental sectors, and through the licensing of the Aeroswift technology to an international additive-manufacturing machine builder. The technology has generated interest from international aerospace original equipment manufacturers, and Aeroswift is included in the technology roadmaps of these manufacturers.

Our partnerships with industry on ICT innovation have also produced impressive results. A range of partnerships have been entered into with local and international companies, such as IBM, SAP South Africa, Nokia, PRASA's Intersite Asset Investments, Cisco South Africa and mLab.

Some R451 million has been leveraged from industry partners for South African ICT research, development and innovation through these partnerships. This year a further allocation of R24 million has been made to continue with existing partnerships and to attract new private sector investment in this initiative.

Last month I launched a 3 tonne prototype hydrogen fuel cell forklift and refuelling station at the Impala Refining Services (part of Impala Platinum), developed in partnership with the HySA Systems centre of competence. The aim is to provide an energy-efficient transportation mode for the mining sector. I have received positive feedback on the initiative and, working with HySA, Impala Platinum plans to convert its entire fleet of 33 forklifts to fuel cell power.

This will reduce the usage of electricity from the grid. Similarly working with the City of Johannesburg, we have launched a hydrogen fuel cell at Windsor East Clinic, in Randburg, which provides back-up power for preservation of TB vaccines in its pharmacy’s refrigerators. A Catalyst developed at our HySA Centre of Competence has performed well in comparison with commercial products. Its successful commercialisation has the potential to bring in R2 billion rand for the country through the catalysis market

Commercialising research results and protecting South Africa's intellectual property

I am pleased to report that, since the Intellectual Property Rights from Publicly Financed Research and Development Act came into effect in 2010, the number of disclosures made by technology transfer agencies has tripled, with the number of patents being managed by these agencies doubling.

Since 2011 over 1 000 disclosures have been received by the National Intellectual Property Management Office from institutions, of which 71% relate to inventions for patent protection. Of these, 61 have been licensed, with over R4,4 million in revenue accruing to the institutions. A comprehensive survey on the status of intellectual property and associated technology transfer at publicly financed institutions will be released this year.

Intellectual property rights related to South Africa's valuable indigenous knowledge systems will be better protected through the Indigenous Knowledge Systems Bill. This should facilitate economic growth and spin-offs resulting from the application of such knowledge.

South Africa as a preferred partner for international science and technology cooperation

Honourable Chairperson, South Africa is regarded by many countries and private sector partners as a preferred and privileged partner for international cooperation in science, technology and innovation. On average, approximately 15% of annual R&D funding in South Africa comes from international investors.

Our International Cooperation and Resources branch has been allocated an amount of R124 million to enhance their science diplomacy work. This is to support strengthening and managing the Department's dynamic and diverse portfolio of relations with a range of international partners.

The recently released OECD study highlighted that among BRICS nations, South Africa ranked highest in terms of the percentage of scientific papers published by the country's researchers with international authors, pointing to the country's status as a sought-after partner for international STI partnership.

Several major multinational companies like Pfizer, Nestlé and Hitachi have invested in research, innovation and human capital development activities in South Africa in partnership with the Department.

Our country is also an important strategic partner for such major philanthropic organisations as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which has invested in programmes to harness STI for poverty alleviation.

South Africa participates successfully in competitive international research funding programmes. In the EU's prestigious Horizon 2020 Framework Programme for Research and Innovation, South Africa's success in terms of the number of projects involving the country's researchers is, among countries outside Europe, bettered only by the United States of America and Canada.

South Africacontinues to provide leadership in the science structures of organisations such as the African Union and the Southern African Development Community. The Department led the preparation of the first BRICS multilateral framework programme for collaborative research and innovation.

Recently, the Department and Academy of Science of South Africa hosted the International Network for Government Science Advice Conference, the first dedicated workshop to build the capability of Africa's scientists to present science advice to governments.

Later this year the Department will be opening a dedicated office in Addis Ababa to support the African Union's Space Policy and Strategy, adopted earlier this year, as well as the implementation of the Science, Technology and Innovation Strategy for Africa.

South Africa's excellence in science, technology and innovation is attracting global attention.

On 8 and 9 December the Department will hold the second Science Forum South Africa, following the tremendous success of the first event.

I would like to congratulate Kevin Govender, also in the gallery, on the 2016 Edinburgh Medal he received last month, with the International Astronomy Union, in recognition of the creation and practical establishment of the Office of Astronomy for Development in Cape Town.

I also would like to congratulate Prof. Tebello Nyokong of Rhodes University and Professor Linus Opara of Stellenbosch university for winning the Kwame Nkrumah Scientific Award from the African Union.

And I would also like to congratulate the four South African-based scientists whom are part of the Next Einstein Forum Fellows, a select programme that recognises 15 of Africa’s best young scientists and technologists - Alta Schutte, Amanda Weltman, Mohlopheni Jackson Marakalala, and Tolullah (Tolu) Oni.

I conclude by thanking the Portfolio Committee on Science and Technology and members of parliament for their valuable oversight of our work.

I thank Dr Phil Mjwara, the Director-General of Science and Technology, and his team, as well as the boards and staff of our entities, for the dedication and hard work that has led to our many achievements, including clean audits all round for the 2014/15 financial year.

Dear Deputy Minister kaMagwaza-Msibi, it's good to have you back. I look forward to our working together once more and strengthening our efforts to provide opportunities to young people and to entrench the role of innovation and technology in local government.

Thank you.




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