09 July  2019

 

Honourable Speaker

Honourable Members of Parliament

Cabinet Colleagues present

Deputy Minister of Higher Education, Science and Technology, Honourable Bhuti Manamela

Members of the Portfolio Committee on Higher Education, Science and Technology, led by Honourable Chairperson, Mr  Philly Mapulane

Director-General of the Department, Dr Phil Mjwara

Officials of the Department of Science and Technology

Chairpersons and CEOs of the  entities

Invited guests

Ladies and Gentlemen

 

This marks our first budget vote as we commence with this 6th  Democratic Parliament.

 

As a Department we committed ourselves to position science and technology as a catalyst towards faster economic growth and development in the next decade.

 

We are also committed to broaden the participation  and mainstream gender, youth, and people with disabilities in science and technology.

 

This is the reason I amongst others, dedicate this budget vote today the one of our departed science and technology shining star, Mr Mandla Maseko, who 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.

 

Honourable Members

 

In response to the Fourth Industrial Revolution and its disruptions, the Department has developed a new policy framework for science and technology which is contained in the new White Paper on Science and Technology and Innovation, adopted by Cabinet in March 2019 which is aligned to the National Development Plan.

 

To realise the objectives of the new White Paper, we will be developing a Decadal Plan  on Science Technology and Innovation (STI), which will serve as an implementation plan over the period 2020-2030.

 

 As a Department we continue to work with our counterparts in all our spheres of government in our continent to ensure convergence of our technological advances and innovation.

 

Convergence is as essential to our future knowledge society as the internal combustion engine was to the Second Industrial Revolution. 

 

It is for this reason that I commend President Ramaphosa’s visionary leadership for realigning the Department of Higher Education and Training and the Department of Science and Technology under a single Ministry.

 

The main reason is not simply to ensure greater administrative efficiency, cost containment, strategic alignment, but to drive the post-school knowledge and skills development imperative more decisively.

 

To further ensure convergence, I will be appointing stakeholder managers to advance the call by the President to establish a social compact with our communities and various stakeholders we serve.

 

Honourable Chairperson

 

We have introduced the concept of a National System of Innovation (NSI), which is our approach in managing STI. 

 

The 2019 White Paper on Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) notes that the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) is based on three sets of megatrends – physical, digital and biological – and involves a convergence of technologies and disciplines that is having a multidimensional impact. 

 

To give proper expression to this multidimensional impact and to harness the potential power of our nation’s innovation capabilities, we have introduced the concept of a National System of Innovation (NSI).

 

It makes provision for a policy framework that seeks to harness the latent and explicit innovation capabilities of whole-of-government and whole-of-society in addressing the national development challenges of our nation.

 

We will be paying attention, in particular, to expand our NSI to include social and communitybased innovation system that can draw on the creative potential of all our people.

 

Honourable Members

 

In response to the President’s call for government to create an enabling environment, use public resources wisely and invest in developing our country’s human potential,  we adopted the Science Engagement Monitoring and Evaluation Framework as a guideline for tracking and establishing whether our science engagement programme is realising its objectives.

 

We have also embarked on an South Africa-European Union (SA-EU) Open Science dialogue with funding from the (SA-EU) Dialogue Facility,

 

In the 2019/20 financial year, we will invest R1,498 billion in support of students, researchers and interns, with a projected total investment of R4,6 billion over the Medium-Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) period. 

 

These funds will support at least 8279 pipeline honours and master's students, 2538 PhD students, 4 500 researchers, and 690 interns.

 

We are committed to expand the South African Research Chairs Initiative (SARChI).  In 2018/19, the number of chairs grew from 226 to 238

 

We also continued to support 14 centres of excellence hosted by various public universities.

 

These centres have concentrated on existing capacity and resources for researchers to collaborate across disciplines on long-term projects that are locally relevant and internationally competitive.

 

In this context, it is crucial that we ensure that the nation’s future science, technology and innovation paradigm is intimately connected with the principles of promoting public good, equality and inclusion.

 

Whilst we acknowledge that a lot has been done, there is also clearly  a need and urgency to significantly accelerate transformation in the racial and gender profile of our academic and research communities. 

 

I will shortly be receiving a report on what the obstacles are in the production of black and women South African academics in our institutions, and how to overcome such obstacles. 

 

I will make the findings of this investigation public so we open the much needed dialogue and debate on how to accelerate transformation in our academia and research communities in our universities.

 

However, changing  the racial and gender profile of academia and researchers is a necessary but not sufficient condition in transforming relations of knowledge production in our country.

 

Both curricula and the nature of research questions must be  framed such that they help overcome patriarchy and racism in broader society, including in the very halls of academia and research.

 

Honourable Members

 

The South African MeerKAT project has been completed.  It was completed on time and within the budget of R3.2 billion.

 

The benefits of hosting the MeerKAT telescope include a 75% local content component, direct investment of more than R300 million in the Northern Cape by the South African Radio Astronomy Observatory.

 

This project now forms part of Phase I of the international Square Kilometre Array (SKA) radio telescope project. 

 

The MeerKAT telescope is also set for further expansion.  An extra 20 dishes will be constructed at the SKA site, with additional supporting infrastructure such as foundations, roads, power, fibre, water supply and security, as well as upgrades to the Karoo substation. This project will be done through a partnership between the South African Radio Astronomy Observatory, Germany’s Max Planck Institute and partners in China.

 

The SKA/MeerKAT project has attracted some of the top astronomers in the world to take up positions in South African Universities.

 

It is for the above reasons that we urge our youth to look beyond just undergraduate studies but to access postgraduate studies and seek to be knowledge producers of tomorrow.

 

Given that the SKA involves data intensive research, it provides opportunities to develop significant skills in data processing, storage and applications, which are critical skills for the successful adoption of the 4th Industrial Revolution that is upon us. I want to position our department as a leader in big data driven opportunities.

 

We are also collaborating with the Department of Tourism, Northern Cape Department of Economic Development and Tourism (DEDAT), Sol Plaatjie University  and the Kareeberg Municipality to construct the SKA Exploratorium in Carnarvon  – which is envisaged to become a multi-purpose facility housing a science centre,  tourism information office and conferencing facilities - in order to take advantage of the expected surge in science tourism as a result of the development of the MeerKAT and SKA projects. 

 

I am also delighted to announce that in 2024, South Africa will host the International Astronomical Union's 2024 General Assembly, a first to be held in the African continent.

 

In December 2018, through the Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT), we pioneered nanosatellite technologies on the continent and developed the TshepisoSAT.

 

The CPUT programme reached its biggest milestone with the launch into space of ZACube-2, Africa's most advanced nanosatellite to date. 

 

I am pleased to announce that our Space Weather Regional Warning Centre for Africa (SANSA) facility at Hermanus was recently designated by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) as one of two regional centres around the world that will monitor space weather for the global aviation sector, providing crucial safety-related services such as solar storm forecasts and warnings. 

 

This is in line with a new ICAO requirement that space weather information be included as an advisory in all air traffic flight plans.  

 

This further confirms and underlines the science advances and the competitiveness of our science system in general and space science capabilities in particular.

 

We now have started putting together the necessary support and infrastructure to ensure that by 2022, South Africa is ready and capable of meeting the space weather information requirements of the African aviation sector 24/7.

 

Being at the cusp of the 4IR, and its interdisciplinary nature, it is important that we act to strengthen and advance the role of social sciences and humanities in our scientific and academic endeavors.

 

Social sciences and humanities are going to be more, and not less, important as humanity continues to transform its own social conditions through, inter alia, the rapid technological developments in society.

 

This therefore calls for a research funding strategy that must foster interdisciplinarity not merely within natural and social sciences separately, but across both humanities and natural sciences.

 

I firmly believe that South Africa can develop its own niche areas in the fostering of scientific enquiry and dialogue between natural and social sciences, including the development of new programmes and degrees that transcend disciplinary boundaries.

 

Honourable Members

 

Our system of national innovation, including the department itself, will seek to support our goals of fostering an inclusive economic growth path, and, in turn, for our NSI to also benefit from lessons out of the economic development dividend.

 

It is for this reason that I am firmly of the view that whilst we should seek commercial products and patents out of our national system of innovation, we should not abandon investment into basic research and scientific enquiry.

 

That is why entities like the CSIR, which are doing great work in innovation, they must nevertheless not be allowed to lose their basic character as science councils.

 

Equally, science councils like the HSRC must find their niche in the innovation space to tackle the many developmental challenges facing our country. In the same vein, the NRF, for example, must also understand the funding imperatives to support this developmental trajectory. Such are the opportunities in the bringing together of higher education, science and innovation.

 

Honourable Members

 

In partnership with the Minerals Councils South Africa (MCSA),  we are implementing the South African Mining Extraction Research, Development and Innovation (SAMERDI) strategy.

 

The strategy is aimed at renewing mining competitiveness and sustainability in defined areas such as longevity of current mines; mechanised drill and blast and successful applications of technology centered around people.  

 

The level of funding towards this programme is approximately R90 million per annum, with a government-industry funding ratio of 2:1.

 

I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate Prof. Lindiwe Zungu, Executive Dean of Graduate Studies at the University of South Africa, who developed health and safety guidelines to help the mining industry accommodate female miners.  

 

Her research, led to the development of new protective gear for women also got an award at National Science and Technology Forum Awards.

 

During SONA, President Ramaphosa said that we must be country that can feed itself and that harnesses the latest advances in smart agriculture.

 

In this regard, 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, thus enhancing food security through Bioeconomy Strategy's for agriculture.

 

Our commitment to modernise and transform critical sectors of our economy has received a boost with the support provided to 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.

 

Honourable Members

 

As a Department, we also have ventured into new ways and partnerships to advance our involvement in the green economy.

 

We have also established an Indigenous Knowledge-Based Bioinnovation unit to develop and patent new innovations.

 

Furthermore, we are funding the beneficiation of titanium; technologies for the direct production of titanium powder; fluorspar; and platinum which was a spin-off from our investments in additive manufacturing (3D printing) and titanium powder development.

 

Honourable members

 

We have the opportunity to be at the forefront of green growth, low-carbon industrialisation, of pioneering new technologies and of taking quantum leaps towards the economy of the future.

 

To date, the work of our Hydrogen South Africa (HySA) programme has resulted in the establishment of spin-off companies whose products are attracting market interest. 

 

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

 

These include the rolling out of fuel cells to a rural school in the Norther West, and the development of hydrogen-powered scooters in partnership with the South African Post Office to extend the range of some of their mail delivery scooters.

 

Honourable Members are invited to join me when I will be launching this pilot partnership in the coming weeks.

 

Through the HySA programme, 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. 

 

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

 

Honourable Members

 

We will also scale up our Grassroots Innovation Programme (GIP) which is aimed at transforming and ensuring the equitable access to the science, technology and innovation infrastructure for all innovators, particularly the previously marginalised innovators in townships and in rural areas.

 

We will grow this programme to support at least 100 more beneficiaries.

 

Guided by the NDP, we have established a consortium consisting of national and international experts to focus on mitigation and adaptation approaches to climate change.  

 

During Chinese President Xi Jinping's state visit to South Africa in 2018, we concluded an agreement for the exchange of young scientists. 

 

I am happy to report that the first cohort of young South African scientists are already in China gaining invaluable experience in some of the world's leading research organisations, with the first cohort of Chinese scientists due to arrive in South Africa later this year.

 

In this context, we will in December organise our popular Science Forum South Africa, which every year draws hundreds of our international partners to South Africa. 

 

We will also be commencing with our preparations for South Africa's hosting of UNESCO's World Science Forum in 2021.

 

In anticipation of South Africa's presidency of the African Union in 2020, we will continue our efforts to support the implementation of the Science, Technology and Innovation Strategy for Africa (STISA), which is the guiding framework for our sector contribution to Agenda 2063. 

 

Honourable Members

 

This brings me to the appropriation of our budget. The Budget Allocation for the Department, in the financial year 2019/2020 is R8.2 Billion, and includes allocations to our agencies.

 

The budget appropriation for the 2019/20 is as follows:

 

Technology Innovation                              R1.2 Billion

International Cooperation                          R149 Million

R & D and Support                                    R4.6 Billion

Socio-Economic Innovation Part               R1.8 Billion

Administration                                          R380.3 million

TOTAL                                                   R8.2 Billion

 

I thank the Honourable President, Deputy President, Cabinet Colleagues, Deputy Minister Manamela, the Chairperson and members of the Portfolio Committee for the support and guidance.

 

Gratitude also goes to my wife, my staff in the Ministry and to the Director General, Dr Phil Mjwara and the entire Executive Management Committee of the Department, the Boards and Executives of our Entities, and everybody who contributed toward the achievement of our mandate as the department.

 

This is our dream we can all share and participate in building.

 

 It is a social compact that requires a contribution from everyone.

 

Let’s Grow SA Together.

 

I thank you