Minister of Science and Technology Budget speech & responses by ANC & DA


19 Apr 2016

Minister of Science and Technology , Ms Naledi Pandor, gave her Budget Vote Speech on 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 2016 with 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 change 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'd like 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. The CSIR will 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 Africa continues 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.



Speech by by Hon L Maseko during the Science and Technology budget vote (ANC)

19 April 2016

Thank you Chairperson, Honourable Minister and Deputy Minister, Honourable Members, DG, all other Officials ladies and Gentlemen. We would firstly like to welcome the deputy Minister back and still pray for her full recovery. Deputy Minister we missed you. Secondly, we would like to extend our sincere condolences to the families, friend and the African national Congress for those comrades who perished in the bus disaster coming back from the ANC Launch of their Manifesto. May their souls rest in eternal peace and wishing those in hospital a speedy recovery. Having said that, I would also want to put it up front that the African National Congress supports this budget vote.

Science, Technology and Innovation are the cornerstone of ensuring a growing and sustainable economy in our country. The National Development Plant clearly states that innovation is critical for introducing new products in to the market and producing goods and services more efficiently. Research and Development should be significantly expanded.

Science and technology was one area that was reserved for a few and excluded the majority of South African under the pretext that it was something difficult. The African National Congress ensured that this myth had to be demystified. It is for that reason that it created a separate Department of Science and Technology. Science, Technology, Innovation, Research and Development are the "New Gold" that must be explored, as this is one area that with drive and direct our economy to be able to compete in the Global World.

The department of Science and Technology cannot do it alone, it need collaboration with almost all departments. I cannot be right that departments employ the services of consultants when it suits them and pay for that services yet, expect some research done by entities of the department to do such for free. Provinces and Local Municipalities must also come on board. We have also observed that when department have to consider any cut in the budget, the first area that they consider, is the research and development allocation, this also happens when they have do viaments. We congratulate Gauteng and Western Cape for having interest and committing to collaborate with the department in forging South Africa forward.

Business must also come on board! It cannot be right that they benefit from government infrastructure, yet they becoming passive actors. The department should report on issues around the Research and Development Tax Incentive which the committee will schedule a briefing thereof in the 4th parliamentary term of 2016.

This despite the fact that the budget of the department remained the same as last financial year's budget. The committee recommends that the Minister should present a policy proposal to Cabinet that exempt State-Owned Entities, with required expertise, from tendering for government research contracts that will fall within their mandate. The committee will schedule the necessary briefings to facilitate discussion on this matter. We also urge Treasury to reconsider the budget allocation to this vote.

The committee had also deliberated on proposals that will see a separate vote dedicated to Research and Development. This will ensure the realisation of the proposal by the NDP to ensure that 1.5% of the GDP must be for research and development by 2030. Currently we are sitting of 0.74% while competing in the World Arena whereby developed countries have set aside as much as 3.4% of the GDP to research and development. 2030 is far and we need to see a gradual growth in this regard. Maybe there is an urgent need to consider legislation for the use and utilisation of the Research and Development but across the board.

Minister, the department must explore possibilities of housing some of the entities within the space of the department so that they can utilise the monies they use to pay rent for core business of the entities. By the way, it is important to note and congratulate the department and all its entities for obtaining clean audits for the 2014/15 financial year.

We urge the Department to expedite the Review of the White Paper and the formulation of new models for Science, Technology and Innovation public budget coordination which will enhance an increased influence of Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) on economic planning growth and the expansion of the National System of Innovation (NSI).

Lastly Chairperson, it must be the responsibility of all Portfolio Committees for ask relevant questions to their respective departments when they present the Budgets and Annual Reports on the utilisation of the R & D Budget.

We did with ensuring that the budgets must have a gender lenses, we must all join hands to ensure an effective Research and Development Budget that will guide and ensure Radical Growth of the South African Economy.

Address by Dr MB Goqwana on the occasion of Science and Technology budget vote (ANC)

19 April 2016, National Assembly, Parliament

As the Portfolio Committee we have gone around the country looking at science technology and innovation.

We have called the Department to Parliament to answer how they are using their budget and implementing service delivery.

We have looked at the Auditor-General`s Report.

We have looked at the government priorities and the NDP is adhered to.

Chairperson, our observation is that Science and Mathematics makes human capital lateral thinkers leading to innovation and creation of technology.

This is all about developing Human Capital for solutions for human challenges.

Science Technology and Innovation is more of a creator than fixer of creation, eg. Medical profession is fixer of creation, engineers are creators.

For human capital to do this and develop easily there must be no inferiority, no superiority complex, no paranoia,no arrogance, instead humility. Above all you realise your dignity and where you come from, for if you do not know where you come from, obviously you will not know where you are going.

To illustrate this I must say I am an African born of the ragged terrain of Transkei. I owe my being to hills and valleys of the Cinglo rivers and of the springs of Sidwadweni.

Do not despise for my higher concentration of melanin in my skin.

For it is not the melanin that I use to think but grey matter and white matter that we all have.

Do not despise me for being a rural man, for it is my roots where I come from.

A tree without roots would not bear fruit.

Do not despise me for going to the bush for manhood, for it is my culture and my dignity.

Do not try and change me for if I change you might not enjoy me and neither will I enjoy myself.

Allow me to be myself. Accept me as I am. This I am saying as many have been failures in life because they want to be what they are not.

This is about Human Capital development.

Chairperson, we have all agreed that the Department is doing well, even the Auditor-General agree with this.

Well done Minister and Deputy Minister

Though a lot has been done I want to mention a few observations.

I thought that the Department is not marketing itself with the good work it has done. But what we are noting is that we as people fear science and innovations that we do not observe the good things that the Department have done.

Because we think science is for scientists and not a solution to our problems of the Globe. You can take the horse to the river but if it does not want to drink it will not.
We have noted that Science Technology and Innovation is a global competor from its inception, eg. produce a scientist give him / her a small salary and he / she will be stolen very soon by countries who realise the importance of science.

Much as we feel that this budget must be passed, but later on we need to review it, if we agree that Science Technology and Innovation is key to our solution.

This talks to our percentage of GDP that goes to Science Technology and Innovation that is not competing with the world and we get surprised when we import more innovation than export.

It is our observation that Science Technology and Innovation does not have power to implement well its policies with other departments, yet every department depends on Science Technology and Innovation. It is cross cutting

We have been requesting Government to have Research and Development vote because our observation is that the usual viaments and cuts in budget in Departments are done in research and development votes.

Chairperson, we have observed that it is almost less than a quarter of Human Capital that is contributing to Innovation and Technology, and this is not helping the economy of the country.

Let us make everybody be interested in science technology and innovation and that will boost our economy and bridge the gap between rich and poor.
Science Technology and Innovation is driven solely by Human Capital. It is key to the dynamism of the world, key to economic improvement and key to transformation.

Chairperson, let me thank my colleagues in the Committee for their work and support. I do not take it for granted.

Thank you to the Ministry of Science and Technology, the Minister, the Deputy Minister and the Director-General with their officials.

Thank you to the Secretariat for the good work done.

To my wife for the psychological support and my secretary Amanda.

Speech by Hon Agnes Tuck during the Science and Technology budget vote (ANC)

19 April 2016

Thank you Hon. Speaker.

I wish to greet

Hon. Speaker
Hon. President
Hon. Deputy President
Hon. Ministers & Deputy Ministers
Hon. Members of the House

The Constitution of the republic of South Africa, 1996 and the rules of Parliament mandates the portfolio committee of Science and Technology to oversee the activities and performance of the department of science and technology and the entities that report to the committee.

Therefore this committee does its work by having oversight visits and meetings with the department and the entities thereof. As the committee, we ensure that the department and the entities that are aligned perform plans in line with the national strategic objectives and the appropriate budget.


The youth is the most important people in South Africa and should be treated as such, therefore SKA IS NOW OFFERING THE OPPORTUNITY for science and engineering graduates to work for SKA .The young Professionals Development Program is currently open for applications from suitable candidates from South Africa.

SKA is the South African Meerkat radio telescope currently being built some 90 kilometers outside a Northern Cape, in a town called Carnarvon, it is also a precursor to the Square Kilometer Array telescope and will be integrated into the mid frequency component of SKA Phase 1.

The SKA project is an international enterprises, to build the largest and most sensitive telescope in the world, and it will be located in Africa and in Australia. At least 75 % of the components making up the Meerkat dish will be manufactured in South Africa by several sub-contractors and key local suppliers.

The telescope was originally known as the Karoo Array Telescope (KAT) that would have consisted of 20 receptors but then the South African government increased the budget to allow the building of the 64 receptors.

We can now ask ourselves what makes the SKA so special yes, it is special , it is a mega - science project which will push the limits of engineering and scientific endeavors over decades to come. The building of SKA requires the development of cutting edge technology and innovation, including the design of the world's fastest computers to process data at rates greater than the current global internet. The SKA will also be able to survey the entire sky much faster than any radio astronomy facility currently in existence.

When complete, the SKA will discover some of sciences' unanswered questions such as what could have happened before creation and if there is life out there.

Since the beginning of this project 820 students have been funded, 140 come from the African partner countries, and five from Carnarvon. Our children in the rural areas are moving towards scientific careers. Twenty one of the 64 Meerkat test dishes for the SKA are expected to be operating in June 2016.When this project is complete the SKA will have 3 000 dishes and 70 % will be in South Africa. The opportunities for the Youth in Africa will be many. We must ensure that the youth do get these opportunities, and this good story tells us one thing that is, that South Africa is capable.

Department needs an increased budget in order to grow economy

Juanita Terblanche (DA)
Shadow Deputy Minister of Science and Technology


The Department of Science and Technology is one of the departments renowned for delivering on their mandate.

For our economy to grow we need a number of factors to contribute and to be in sync with each other. This Department is crucially been charged to provide, develop and sustain the knowledge and innovation required to grow our economy, to create job opportunities, and for South Africa to build and expand our position as the research and development hub in Africa. Any setbacks, as experienced during the past period and specifically during the past four months, increases the burden on the Department as everyone has to do with fewer resources.

The problems this department and their entities face cannot be placed at the Minister’s feet directly – but the fact that the department’s budget has been cut by R53 million  can be placed directly at the feet of government, that is not creating an enabling economic environment, conducive to growing our economy or jobs.

This is impacting heavily on this department –and now I quote from the departments own annual performance and budget plan:

  1. It is raising the cost of the compliance of entities,
  2. The currency weakness (importing and cost of collaboration for example travel becomes exorbitant)
  3. Low economic growth and a depressed business confidence: Low level of investment in Science and Technology Innovation by the Private sector.

As Minister Pandor said on Friday at an information and communication conference in Secunda – and I quote “with the right invention, there was great potential to compete in the big data industry.”

She was of course referring to the great strides that have been made in the area of astronomy – the Square Kilometre array telescope (SKA)   and the MeerKat- the SKA precursor or pathfinder telescope that will consist of 64 dish shaped antennas. The MeerKat will be the most powerful radio telescope that we possess in the Southern Hemisphere and will become part of SKA phase 1.

Once again I have to refer – as the Minister also had on Friday – to the issue I had last year, namely big data and whether we as South Africans are at this moment, are training the right number of scientists, technicians, analysts and engineers equipped with cutting edge skills needed in this fast and exciting developing field.

I was therefore glad to see that a big data Africa Programme is being proposed for African countries involved in the SKA and African Very Long Baseline Interferometry Network (AVN) – as I believe that if such a programme becomes a reality it will address all the issues with other science projects as well and I would like to commend the Minister and her department for this initiative.

To return to budget cuts that was made:

  1. The medium term reductions has been approved by cabinet and is affecting 3 programmes specifically, programme
  2. Technology Innovation Programme
  3. Research, development and support and Programme
  4. Socio-Economic Partnerships.

Unfortunately Sansa, the South African National Space Agency falls under programme 2 and from the department’s own report it is the programme that must aim to promote peaceful use of space, foster international cooperation in space related activities, foster research in space science, advance scientific engineering through human capital development and specifically focuses on the underprivileged and infrastructure development.

The creation of an environment that is conducive to industrial development in space technologies also falls under SANSA.

It is therefore a grave injustice that this entity, dependent in this sector on highly skilled individuals that we are already in short supplies of in our country, gets 50% of the budget it needs. If this does not show the constraints our scientists, researchers and even administrators must work under – and why this department needs more funding and we as South Africans a government that can grow the economy – I wonder what will.

Current budget creates tremendous challenges for department

Annelie Lotriet (DA)

Shadow Minister of Science and Technology

Hon Chairperson

Right around the world, smart nations are making major investments in research, innovation and higher education. These national investment strategies grasp a fundamental truth about future prosperity and economic growth. It understands that research and innovation are central to national economic strength, job creation and global competitiveness.

This kind of approach to R&D and innovation should make a serious appeal to our government and funding priorities given the major problems in the country.

However, the Global Innovation Index 2014 ranked South Africa 53rd out of 143 countries and we are third on the continent behind Mauritius and the Seychelles.

In fact, South Africa’s relative position on the Global Innovation Index, Global Competitiveness Index and the Knowledge Economy Index has worsened over the past ten years.

We also have to deal with the devastating reality that we have 8.2 million people who are unemployed and the tragic part of this is that our youth are the worst affected.

This alone, besides all the other socioeconomic problems in the country should point spending arrows towards R&D and innovation.

As Sarah Wild in her book Innovation states, that to have a competitive advantage in the world of innovation, one has to have a strong patent output. The reality at the moment is that the balance of payments for technology is skewed towards the importing of technology. In 2013, South Africa paid $1.9 billion to use foreign technology, while it received $63 million in technology receipts. This indicates that we are a net importer of technology.

Minister, South Africa is, can and should be much better than that.

It is within this context that the budget of the Department of Science and Technology must be assessed. Science and Technology cannot be seen as a luxury or nice to have department working on a few esoteric projects which are deemed to be of limited application and value.

The truth is that science, technology and innovation as one of the most important drivers of economic growth.  And in a country such as ours, with the levels of unemployment there is, the Department of Science and Technology budget should be up there with Education and Health.


Let us look at this budget. The budget for the Department decreased from the 2015/16 of R7.48 billion to R7.429 billion. That represents a decrease of 6,86%.  The Cabinet has also approved reductions of R414 million in the Technology Innovation programme, the Research, Development and Support programme and the Socio-Economic Innovation Partnerships programme. In light of what I stated above, this should let the alarm bells ring. A country cannot afford to fall behind in the field of STI, as the cost to catch up, has to be measured not only in increased costs, but also missing out on innovation opportunities and knowledge acquisition. A case in point here is the SANSA satellite programme where it will take us ten years to catch up.

Government has set the target of raising gross expenditure on research and development to 1.5 per cent of GDP by 2019 from the current level of 0.76 per cent. This means an additional R115 billion is required. The Department’s contribution over the medium term will be R13,2 billion.

Unfortunately the current situation is that Government spends more money on R&D than the business sector. This has to change if we want to be competitive and I want to commend the Minister and the Department for the efforts made to improve the R&D Tax incentive scheme. Minister, the reports on the performance of the tax incentive scheme should be made available and acted upon as a matter of urgency.

As I have stated in previous budget debates, this is a department that is totally underfunded. Again the different entities reported to the Portfolio Committee that they do not have sufficient funds and that some of the projects could be at risk, but that they make adjustments as best they can. What is worse with this budget is that they now have to cope with an additional cut of R414 million.

The research councils have to increasingly rely on external funding to do research. This leads to the problem of whose research agenda will be followed. There are urgent problems that have to be researched such as the alleviation of poverty, unemployment and inequality, but the problem is that in many instances the donors determine the research agenda.

An additional problem is that because of the limited government funding for researchers, they have the added burden of having to source funding, writing time-consuming tender proposals and this takes up valuable research time. Often this makes it difficult for research councils to keep researchers as they can do better elsewhere as well as the country missing out on important and crucial innovation products and patents.

The question is, what can be done to ameliorate this situation?

Firstly we have to acknowledge that we have a well-functioning department and entities that fulfil their mandates as best they can with the little they have and in many instances achieving internationally recognised results.

However, we sit with a fragmented STI environment. R&D spent is spread over different departments with different research priorities and mandates.

Clearly there should be greater coordination between departments, but in reality this is seldom effective without the legal framework to administer this.

In the DA Innovation policy, we envisage policy reforms that will aim at harnessing South Africa’s intellectual assets, R&D and innovation investment and Research Infrastructure in a single Department of Post-School Education and Research and with a National Council on Research and Innovation.

South Africa’s success as a nation will be determined by the country’s ability to generate knowledge and ideas and to establish a post-school education environment that will equip students for meaningful economic participation. Our innovation system must provide the appropriate infrastructure, financial support and incentives to sustain every phase of the innovation process – from the original idea to the ultimate product.

But this budget creates tremendous challenges for the department. This budget is proof that the ANC government does not take the role and importance of Science, Technology and Innovation seriously.

To grow the economy and expand economic opportunities we must face these challenges head-on. The DA’s proposals can strengthen our post-school education and innovation systems and make them effective drivers for growth and development.



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