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ARTS, CULTURE, SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
25 March 2003
RATIFICATION OF SOUTH AFRICA’S MEMBERSHIP OF NAM SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY CENTRE & INTERNATIONAL CENTRE FOR GENETIC ENGINEERING AND BIOTECHNOLOGY: BRIEFING
Chairperson: Ms M A Njobe (ANC)
Documents handed out:
Briefing on Ratification of SA Membership of the NAM S&T (Appendix 1)
Briefing on Ratification of SA Membership of the ICGEB (Appendix 2)
The Committee unanimously agreed to join both the Non-Aligned Movement’s Centre for Science and Technology and the International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology. The Committee also finalised the shortlist of nominations for the National Arts Council Board.
Centre for Science and Technology of the Non Aligned Movement briefing
Dr Neville Arendse, Director: Science Planning, represented the Department of Arts, Culture, Science and Technology. Dr Arendse said that for at a nominal fee of $10 000 per annum joining the NAM S&T could make a significant contribution to science in South Africa. The NAM S&T is an intergovernmental organisation with 40 member countries from all over the developing world.
Dr Arendse outlined some of the advantages of membership. The NAM S&T could help in establishing links between South African scientists and their colleagues from various parts of the world. The Centre maintains a registry of various science and technology experts whose expertise could benefit South Africa and the NAM S&T could provide models for balanced scientific and technological development based on optimum utilization of resources.
Mr MF Cassiem (IFP) said he had no objections to joining NAM S&T but would like to know how poorer South Africans could benefit.
Dr Arendse said the NAM S&T would facilitate international access for South African scientists. Unfortunately science at this level does not always show immediate benefits at all levels of society.
Mr N Ngcobo (ANC) said Parliament must at all times be kept informed of the Department’s achievements.
Mr M Cassiem added that the Department is obliged to effectively communicate with Parliament. He asked that the Committee be presented with an outflow of programs listed in the briefing document explaining how they would benefit ordinary South Africans.
Dr Arendse said he could forward such a programme by the next meeting.
Mr S Opperman (DP) asked how the NAM S&T would interact with the developed world.
Dr Arendse said there are no formal links but he assured the Committee there would probably be interaction with European and United Nations scientists.
Mr Cassiem said there is time available in September to more thoroughly discuss some of the following issues with the Department: Indigenous Knowledge, Software Development and Biotechnology.
The Chairperson reiterated the Committee’s support for joining the NAM S&T, the need to ensure the poorest citizens benefit from science. There was a need to improve communication between the Department and the Committee.
The Committee unanimously voted to join the NAM S&T centre.
International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology briefing
Dr Arendse said the ICGEB was initiated by the Italian Government and was still under Italian curatorship. South Africa was invited to join by the Italian president on his recent visit to South Africa. Dr Arendse said a fee of US $37 000 per annum would give South Africa access to the invaluable resources of the Centre and its many sister organisations. As a member South Africa would be entitled to five fellowships that would itself exceed the membership fee.
The Chairperson said educating the citizens on genetic engineering and biotechnology is very important.
Dr Arendse agreed. Demystifying biotechnology is important to the Department as well, especially considering the confusion around genetically modified food.
The Chairperson said the needs of South Africa are basic matters such as food security and not ethically dubious matters like human cloning.
Dr Arendse said the ICGEB has very high standards and he doubts whether any ethical difficulties would occur. The Legislature should ensure that laws are drafted to protect the country from maverick scientists.
The Committee unanimously agreed to join the ICGEB.
Short listing of candidates for the National Arts Council Board
Members agreed on the following candidates for shortlisting as members of the National Arts Council Board.
Mr Paul Graan
Mr John Walton
Ms Emma Bedford
Ms Nicolette du Plessis
Prof Cobsi Mbele
Dr Thabisa P Z Dumisa
Mr Nathi Gaiza
Ms Moira Seape
Ms Anet Pienaar – Vosloo
Mr Charles Mabaso
Adv Mark Gordon
Mr Dirk Badenhorst
Ms Allet Franks
Mr Sjoerd Alkema
Mr Cassim Kadwa
Mr Sipho Mthombeni
Mr Christopher Mnakwana
The meeting was adjourned.
BRIEFING ON RATIFICATION OF SOUTH AFRICA'S MEMBERSHIP OF THE CENTRE FOR SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY OF THE NON-ALIGNED MOVEMENT AND OTHER DEVELOPING COUNTRIES (NAM S&T)
The Centre for Science and Technology of Non-aligned and Other Developing Countries (NAM S&T Centre) is an inter-governmental organisation with a membership of 40 countries spread over Asia, Africa, Middle East and Latin America. The Centre was set up in 1989 in New Delhi, India in pursuance of recommendations of various NAM Summit meetings for promotion of science and technology among developing countries.
The Centre has identified a number of priority areas around which it is engaged in implementing a variety of programmes, including workshop and meetings, training programmes, courses and collaborative projects and bringing out scientific publications. These activities provide for an opportunity for scientists for contact and interaction, familiarize participants on the latest developments and techniques in the subject areas, identification of training requirements or expert assistance, identification of technologies for transfer between member countries, etc.
OBJECTIVES OF THE NAM S&T CENTRE
The Centre promotes various actions called for by the Action Programme for Economic Cooperation and by the Common strategy for cooperation in the fields of science and technology in order to strengthen cooperation among non-aligned and other developing countries. The Centre also:
a) helps in the establishment of links between national and regional centre for development and transfer of technology;
’b) promotes the fullest possible mutually beneficial collaboration among scientists and technologists and scientific organizations from non-aligned and other developing countries;
c) promotes the establishment, in cooperation with national and regional centres, of a system of meetings and consultations of scientists and technologists from non-aligned and other developing countries on a continuing basis;
d) acts as a clearing-house of information regarding technological capabilities of individual non-aligned and other developing countries with a view to promoting technological cooperation and transfer of technology among them, and provide early information about impending technological changes and seek to develop a data bank;
e) maintains a registry of scientific and technological experts of high calibre whose services could be utilized by the Members of the Centre;
f) stimulates and promote joint research and development projects and training programmes, either on bilateral or multilateral basis, among the Members of the Centre in selected fields of special relevance;
g) appoints special panels of outstanding experts for the preparation of state-of-the-art reports in respect of selected fields and problems, with a view to rendering expert advice to Members in the choice of technology as well as their scientific and technological growth, including human resources development;
h) provides suggestions including models for balanced scientific and technological development based on optimum utilization of resources;
i) monitors the implementation of the programmes pertaining to scientific and technological development recommended or approved at intergovernmental meetings of non-aligned and other developing countries.
POTENTIAL BENEFITS TO THE MEMBER COUNTRIES OF THE CENTRE
FOR SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY OF THE NON-ALIGNED AND OTHER
Total financial support for international travel, boarding/lodging and per diem of one nominee of each member country for participation in seminars, workshops, training courses etc. organized by the Centre.
Support under the scheme on 'Young Scientist Lectureship Award' lowards international fare for travel of a specialist from one member country to another member countries for affiliation with an institution in that country in an area of S&T of mutual interest; the cost towards local hospitality, transport etc. is to be met by the host institution.
Dissemination of information of S&T developments on the website www.namslct.orcl of the Centre, including the technologies developed by the scientists in the member countries and other developing countries, which may be exploited for use after further R&D for local conditions, it required.
Facilitating the organization of training and hands-on courses for the scientists of the member country in another country on payment basis
Free subscription of Centre's Newsletter (quarterly), which includes important scientific events, achievements and discoveries specifically in the developing world.
Free receipt of Centre's publications in various disciplines, such as
Biotechnological Application for Food Security in Developing Countries,
Compendium for Aqua-Culture Technology for Developing Countries,
Medicinal Plants of NAM Countries, Aromatic and Essential Oil Bearing
Plants of NAM Countries, New Technologies for Rural Telecommunication,
Tissue Culture of Economic Plants, Renewable Energy Applications - PV,
Wind and Small Hydro, Louder Lessons in Technology Transfer, ODS Phase-out in SMEs, etc.
WHY SOUTH AFRICA SHOULD PARTICIPATE AS FULL MEMBER OF THE NAM S&T CENTRE
There are compelling scientific, strategic and political reasons for South Africa's full participation in the NAM S&T Centre.
· The Centre runs a programme of international workshops, expert meetings, courses and training programmes that have the problems of the developing countries in focus. In this respect South Africa could benefit in sharing experiences and expertise. It is worth noting that some of the best expertise in areas such as Indigenous Knowledge Systems, Biotechnology and software development resides within the NAM S&T Centre membership.
· The NAM S&T Centre is a shining example of South-South cooperatic in Science and Technology development. South Africa as one of the most technologically advanced nations in the developing world, in supporting efforts that enhance scientific research and technological development, enhances its own stature within the developing world.
· At a political level, the country, particularly President Mbeki, has played a leading role within NAM, since the advent of democracy. Participating as a full member of one of its organs, namely the NAM S&T Centre, serves to extend our national foreign policy.
It is recommended that, the Committee approves that South Africa becomes a Member of the NAM S&T Centre.
BRIEFING DOCUMENT ON THE INTERNATIONAL CENTRE FOR GENETIC ENGINEERING AND IOTECHNOLOGY (ICGEB)
ICGEB is an international organisation, dedicated to advanced research and training in molecular biology and biotechnology, with special regard to the needs of the developing world. It runs several research programmes of high scientific content in laboratories located in Trieste, Italy and New Delhi, India addressing both basic and applied research problems
South Africa submitted an expression of interest to ICGEB's Board of Governors, indicating South Africa's interest to become a Member Country of the Centre and requesting the Board to consider its application. This Letter of Interest had no financial obligations and only served to bring to the attention of the Board, South Africa's intention to join ICGEB.
Following the Board's approval of the request for membership, the Department was informed that in order to have the Republic of South Africa become a full Member State of the ICGEB, an Instrument of Accession to the Statutes of ICGEB has to be deposited at the United Nations in New York through which our Government declares its acceptance of the ICGEB Statutes and indicates its commitment to the provisions contained therein.
During November 2002 South Africa was invited to participate as observer in the Ninth Session of the Board of Governors Meeting. Apart from attending meetings on various genetic engineering and biotechnology issues, the officials and external expert developed a better understanding of the activities of the Centre.
ICGEB is a strategic international partnership for optimally exploring genetic engineering and biotechnology technologies. Joining ICGEB would offer
South Africa opportunities to further its biotechn6logy programmes through participation in advanced collaborative research programmes and comprehensive training schemes. In addition, it would provide a unique intergovernmental forum where policy issues related to bio-safety and technology transfer are discussed.
All members are required to participate in the financing of the Centre through a scale of assessment, approved by the Board. It is estimated that South Africa's assessed contribution would amount to US$37 000 per annum.
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