CSIR, Technology for Women in Business and South African National Accreditation System: annual report

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Trade and Industry

28 May 2002
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Meeting Summary

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Meeting report

 

CSIR presentation
TWIB presentation
SANAS presentation

Websites:
South African National Accreditation System
Technology for Women in Business (TWIB)
Council for Scientific & Industrial Research (CSIR)

SUMMARY
The CSIR, TWIB as well as SANAS presented an annual report to the Committee. The CSIR briefed the committee about its involvement in economic growth and social development programmes as well as its role in NEPAD and in the World Summit for Sustainable Development to be held later this year. The TWIB highlighted various projects which it has embarked on to empower women. They noted that the mandate of the organisation has changed to include rural women who are the most neglected. SANAS pointed out that it is the only recognised accreditation body in Africa. They however felt that this needs to change.

MINUTES
CSIR presentation
Dr Anthos Yannakou spoke to his Powerpoint presentation (see document).

Technology for Women in Business (TWIB)
The CEO, Mr Rusty Mtshali, explained the vision of the project is to move women in business from the periphery into the mainstream of the economy through the use of technology.
This DTI initiative aims at enhancing the accessibility of science and technology to women in business and in particular SMMEs. Its objectives include: competitiveness, economic empowerment, enterprise development, industry participation, spatial and targeted developement.

The TWIB focus for 2002/3 is on:
- Women entrepreneur development and support
- 'Techno girls' which encourages technology use from an early age at primary school levels.

TWIB is involved in six sectors: Arts and Crafts, Agri-processing and Food, Tourism, Construction, Mining and Energy, Information Communications and Technology.

He listed some of the TWIB projects: Water2women and the Roromoulding project in the Eastern Cape; Waste2wood in the same region; the Barotti Online project and the Kgabene Women Project incubated at the CSIR in Kwazulu-Natal amongst others.

 

 

The Water2women project was started as many areas in the country are underdeveloped in terms of water treatment services. The Barotti Online project is a high-powered activity linking SMMEs with big business. The Barotti system provides TWIB 100 SMMEs with an electronic platform to promote their services and products to corporates and also to link with new trading partners.

The Techno-Girls project works closely with the Umsobomvu Youth Fund and also has a mentoring programme to partner with SAWEN (South African Women Entrepreneurial Network).

South African National Accreditation System (SANAS)
The South African National Accreditation System is the single national accreditation body that gives formal recognition that laboratories, certification bodies, inspection bodies, proficiency testing scheme providers and good laboratory practice test facilities are competent to carry out specific tasks. For example, testing laboratories are accredited for specific test methods or techniques. These capabilities must be periodically demonstrated by measurement. This serves to maintain confidence in the laboratory's ability to perform accurate measurements and tests.

SANAS certificates are a formal recognition that an organisation is competent to perform specific tasks.

The CEO, Mr Mike Peet, pointed out that 53% of accreditation bodies are based in Europe with Africa having only one such body through SANAS itself.

He added that the challenge is for Africa to have its own testing laboratories so it can have confidence in its systems. In 1998, there were about 200 testing laboratories in Africa, currently the number has increased to over 500 - which shows some considerable progress.

He made the following points:
- Accreditation is a procedure by which an authoritative body gives formal recognition to a body that that body is competent to carry out specific tasks of conformity assessment.
- SANAS was created in post 1994 as a result of a Cabinet resolution in this regard as it recognised the need for a single national accreditation system.
- The responsibilities of SANAS include encouraging accreditation of certification and inspection bodies and laboratories.
- SANAS has to comply with internationally accepted criteria and also peer evaluation by international teams with the relevant expertise.
- Europe co-operation for the accreditation of laboratories calibration has been in existence since 1993.
- SANAS signed the International Accreditation Forum multilateral agreement in October 1998 for quality management. This gives recognition in ea countires
- The benefits of becoming accredited include impartial feedback from independent examinations by experts against a defined scope of activity and the customer also has access to an independent complaint mechanism.
- In conclusion, he pointed out that accreditation is all about the impartial and ongoing examination of competence of a facility by an independent and nationally recognised body.

Discussion
Mr S Rasmeni (ANC) asked if SANAS works with other local bodies or is it with international bodies only? To the CSIR he asked if they assist government, even proactively, to develop means of rolling out services to the disadvantaged communities. In education, what role does the CSIR play in science and technology education from primary to secondary school level? He asked TWIB if they have projects in all nine provinces and, if so, what they are.

Mr D Lockey (ANC) asked the CSIR as to what they can do to help improve South Africa's competitiveness globally in terms of science and technology? He also expressed concern that not enough is being done to develop the underdeveloped parts of the economy. The problem is that interventions which are there are not doing enough, they have very low output in terms of economic empowerment and this is making them very limited.

Ms B Ntuli (ANC) pointed out that the country is facing big challenges and amongst these are job creation, equitable distribution of wealth and poverty alleviation. Admittedly, this theme is somewhat crosscutting in all the three presentations, but it seems that they are not doing enough. Women do get involved in self-upliftment programmes, but often the problem is that they do not know how to market these wares. What can be done to improve this situation?

She also asked about the structure of the SANAS board - how many women and black people are there. If none, what are their plans for addressing this?

Mr R Shope (ANC) asked the CSIR how they bring in the previously disadvantaged individuals, in terms of skills, so that it can address the imperatives of a demographically representative workforce. He asked SANAS if the lack of African counterparts is by design or due to the historical situation of the country.

The Chair asked the CSIR to what extent they are involved in the Urban Renewal Strategy and the Integrated Rural Development Strategy. Given the legacy of apartheid, what steps are they taking to ensure that at some point South Africans are living at around the same standard and not just a select few? She also asked SANAS what their relationship is with the Standards, Quality Assurance & Metrology (SQAM). To the TWIB project, she expressed concern that the Industrial Strategy is silent on women empowerment issues and asked why this is so. She asked all three agencies what they are doing to ensure that they are more visible to the public.

Mr L Zita (ANC) asked the CSIR if they have a sound provincial structure to support initiatives like sustainable livelihoods.

Mr Peet responded to the questions directed at SANAS. He noted that they do have a close working relationship with organisations such as SAQA as well as the Department of Labour in determining certain standards. As accreditation is a very new issue, co-operation with African countries happens via the many international projects being run in these countries - this is how they get to work within these countries. On the SANAS board, he pointed out currently there is one black man, a coloured man, one Indian female whilst the rest are white. They are however very aware of this issue and are in the processing of trying to address the matter. Regarding their relationship with SQAM, he pointed out that they see each other as partners, much as in the way they work with SABS. As far as SANAS visibility is concerned, whilst they need marketing personnel urgently, their funds are not very suited to this. They are working on a research project with a university to determine marketing strategy.

Mr Mtshali for TWIB pointed out that currently only four provinces are having activities. These are the Eastern Cape, Limpopo, Kwazulu-Natal as well as the North West. On job creation, he pointed out that projects like Water2women, Waste2wood and the Techno-girls are current interventions. He pointed out that TWIP had to start somewhere. Regarding visibility, they are in the process of appointing provincial representatives to look at provincial needs and issues. He pointed out that where they have a presence, their visibility is quite good.

Ms Tina Eboka, from the CSIR, responded to the issue of proactive work with government. She pointed out that as much the CSIR is a research and development institute, they do a lot of proactive research in conjunction with many departments. Thus they support government in this regard and also come up with policies and recommendations. On the issue of primary and secondary education, she pointed out that this is not an area for their intervention, but they do have competitions which encouraged science and technology education.

On the issue of world competitiveness, she pointed out that the CSIR agrees that much research and development needs to be done in this regard. However, the challenge is still the private sector - how well do they trust local research and expertise? On issues of empowerment and growth above 5%, one of the main concerns at CSIR is looking at sustainable development through social system improvement in conjunction with economic growth. In terms of accessing the CSIR, she pointed out that greater communication strategies need to be pursued in addition to the existing ones. On the issue of equity in its human resources, she pointed out that their bursary scheme is ensuring that their demographic profile is balanced. This she cautioned has to ensure that it is consistent with the philosophy of high skills needs as in postgraduate qualifications such as Masters and Doctoral degrees.

Meeting adjourned.

TRADE AND INDUSTRY PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
29 May 2002
CSIR, TECHNOLOGY FOR WOMEN IN BUSINESS (TWIB) AND SOUTH AFRICAN NATIONAL ACCREDITATION SYSTEM (SANAS): ANNUAL REPORT

Acting Chair:

Ms C September (ANC)

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