Department of Science and Technology

Thursday, 7 December 2017        


CSIR, Pretoria


On behalf of the DST I’m pleased to welcome you - 2,700 participants from 60 countries - to the third Science Forum South Africa.


Our guest of honour today will South Africa’s Deputy President, Mr Cyril Ramaphosa.


I would like to welcome the African Union Commissioner for Human Resources, Science and Technology and the CEO of the NEPAD Planning and Coordinating Agency, as well as Ministers from Angola, Botswana, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Jamaica, Namibia, Uganda and Swaziland.


I welcome Mr Robert-Jan Smits (European Commission), Prof Romain Murenzi (TWAS) and Dr Heide Hackmann (ICSU).  


While the Department of Science and Technology is the main organiser of this event, I would like to acknowledge the contributions especially of the National Research Foundation and the Academy of Science of South Africa. 


In addition to the main plenary sessions, you can look forward to a comprehensive programme of 70 parallel sessions, covering a broad range of topical issues with regard to the role of science in society.


Science Forum SA has three objectives.


First, to put science at the service of African society. It is through science that many of the challenges faced by our communities can be addressed.

Second, to promote international collaboration. It is through collaboration that ties are strengthened, that science not only becomes stronger in Africa, but internationally, and that groundbreaking research is enabled.

Third, to showcase African science and technology to the world. Too little is known about the tremendous contributions African scientists make towards global science. We have a rich and diverse portfolio of international collaboration but in our fast-changing world, we need to work with even more energy to profile African countries as reliable partners of choice for global scientific cooperation.

In South Africa we have tried to put in place the best science and technology policies. We focus on promoting specific areas for R&D - astronomy, energy, bio economy - in which we are becoming world leaders. We invest in knowledge-based activities that are driven by the quality of the scientists we train, the quality of our research and development infrastructure, and the enablers we have put in place to turn scientific research into technology.


I'm pleased that the Science Forum South Africa is already regarded as one of Africa’s premier platforms for public debate on science. Science is an integral part of Africa’s growth and development agenda and South Africa is committed to playing its part in contributing to developing Africa’s capacities for science and technology. I'm confident that our Forum will help to foster a continental consensus on the critical role of science in African society.