The Committee met to hear a briefing from the Department of Science and Technology (DST) on its 2012/13 Third Quarter Expenditure and Performance. The general outline of the presentation looked at the DST overview, achievements for the third quarter, achievements per programme, and conclusion. It explained the mandate of DST, vision and mission. The presentation highlighted some key objectives of the Department, Government outcomes in line with the DST programmes, explaining the purpose of the prgrammes.
The presentation explained that the work of Department was informed by the 1996 White Paper on Science and Technology, which introduced the concept of a National System of Innovation (NSI). The NSI remained an ideal for which South Africa continued to strive. It was an enabling framework for Science, Technology and Innovation (STI). The DST, as the custodial coordinator for the development of the NSI, influenced this system through key strategies such as the National Research and Development Strategy (NRDS) and the Ten-Year innovation.
It also explained the vision of DST which was to create a prosperous society that derived enduring and equitable benefits from science and technology. The mission was to develop, coordinate and manage a NSI that would bring about maximum human capital, sustainable economic growth and improved quality of life for all.
The presentation explained the purpose of the programmes which was to conduct the overall management and administration of the Department. Programme 2 - Research, Development and Innovation looked at priority areas, namely, space science, bio-economy, and energy, and its purpose was to facilitate knowledge generation and exploitation through R&D in key areas.
The report explained that through DST funding, the National Health Laboratory Services (NHLS) announced the discovery of potent antibodies which were able to kill 88% of HIV found throughout the world. This ground-breaking discovery provided important clues that could be useful in making AIDS vaccine. In terms of the Research, Development and Innovation (RDI) National Intellectual Property Management Office (NlPMO) was being established as an institution at an increasing arms-length from the DST. In December 2012, the DST through NIPMO launched its first series of guidelines mandated by the Intellectual Property Rights from Publicly Financed Research and Development Act (No.51 of 2008) (IPR-PFRD Act).
The report looked at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation's project on human capacity building in legume sciences launched by the DST in collaboration the Tshwane University of Technology (TUT). South Africa hosted its first Southern African Development Community (SADC) Policy Training Workshop in October 2OI2.
With regard to Human Capital and Knowledge the report noted that the Accreditation and Certification of norms and standards for traditional medicine were finalised. An Indigenous Knowledge National Recordal System's Communication Plan was approved. A total of 54 entrepreneurs were developed during that reporting period. The first cohort of 26 entrepreneurs trained through Sasol ChemCity had reached sustainability and were handed over to Sasol ChemCity aftercare team.
Members asked questions of clarity looking at the reasons why Department did not achieve the three targets that the DG mentioned in his presentation, whether the countries the DST had agreements with in terms of international research projects honoured those commitments, whether the Department was involved in the research to provide clean water in municipalities which was a very urgent requirement, why specifically the Tshwane University of Technology was involved in the Legume project, whether DST collaborated with other Government Departments, and what the difference was between the KAT-7 precursor array of dish antennas and the MeerKAT array itself. Were the antennas going to be redesigned and where would they be manufactured?
The Committee also unanimously adopted its programme.
Department of Science and Technology (DST) on its 2012/13 Third Quarter Performance
Dr Phil Mjwara, DST Director-General (DG) said that the Department's work was informed by the 1996 White Paper on Science and Technology, which introduced the concept of a National System of Innovation (NSI). The NSI remained an ideal for which South Africa continued to strive. It was an enabling framework for Science, Technology and Innovation (STI).The NSI could be understood as a set of functioning institutions, organisations and policies chat interacted constructively in the pursuit of a common set of social and economic goals and objectives. It sought to promote change through the introduction of innovations.
The DST, as the custodial coordinator for the development of the NSI, influenced this system through key strategies such as the National Research and Development Strategy (NRDS) and the Ten-Year innovation. The latter, particularly, sought to contribute to the transformation of the South African economy from a resource-based into a knowledge-based economy, in which the production and dissemination of knowledge would lead to economic benefits and enrich all fields of human endeavour. In this regard, the measure of success would be the level to which STI played a driving role in enhancing productivity, economic growth and socio-economic development.
The vision of DST was to create a prosperous society that derived enduring and equitable benefits from science and technology. The mission was to develop, coordinate and manage a NSI that would bring about maximum human capital, sustainable economic growth and improved quality of life for all; to enhance South Africa's knowledge-generation capacity; to develop the innovation capacity of the NSI; to develop appropriate science, technology and innovation human capital to meet the needs of society; to build world-class ST1 infrastructure; and to position South Africa as a strategic international RDI partner and destination.
The Deportment also contributed to and reported on the following government outcomes: Outcome 2 - a long and healthy life for all South Africans; Outcome 3 and 4 - decent employment through inclusive economic growth; Outcome 7 - vibrant, equitable and sustainable rural communities and food; and Outcome 10 - environmental assets and natural resources that were well protected and continually enhanced.
In terms of the purpose of the programmes programme I - Administration was to conduct the overall management and administration of the Department. Programme 2 - Research, Development and Innovation looked at priority areas, namely, space science, bio-economy, and energy, and its purpose was to facilitate knowledge generation and exploitation through R&D in key areas. Programme 3 - International Cooperation and Resources which aimed at strategically developing, promoting and managing international relationships, opportunities and S&T agreements that strengthened the NSI and enable an exchange of knowledge, capacity and resources between South Africa and its regional and international partners. Provide leadership in the creation of an innovative and competitive society with highly skilled human capital, and competitive knowledge and research infrastructure. Programme 5: Socio-Economic Partnerships - This Programme enhances the growth and development priorities of government through targeted S&T based innovation interventions and the development of strategic partnerships with other government departments, industry, research institutions and communities.
Through DST funding, the National Health Laboratory Services (NHLS) announced the discovery of potent antibodies which were able to kill 88% of HIV found throughout the world. This ground-breaking discovery provided important clues that could be useful in making AIDS vaccine. In terms of the Research, Development and Innovation (RDI) National Intellectual Property Management Office (NlPMO) was being established as an institution at an increasing arms-length from the DST. In December 2012, the DST through NIPMO launched its first series of guidelines mandated by the Intellectual Property Rights from Publicly Financed Research and Development Act (No. 51 of 2008) (IPR-PFRD Act). The guideline was entitled: "Interpretation of the scope of the IPR-PFRD Act: setting the scene".
The Technology Top 100 (TTIOO) awards event took place and was hosted by DST in its capacity as a strategic partner to the Da Vinci Institute. In the reporting period, the DST, through its participation in Bridging Action for GMES and Africa (BRAGMA), organised the First Global Monitoring for the Environment and Security (GMES) and Africa workshop in Mombasa, Kenya in October 2012 where African experts gathered to discuss and contribute towards the Marine and Coastal Management chapter of the much anticipated GMES &Africa Action Plan. BRAGMA also organised a side event during the African Association of Remote Sensing of the Environment (AARSE) that was held in El Jadida, Morocco. The Space Science and Technology unit had made significant progress with respect to the implementation of Cabinet resolution recommending the absorption of SunSpace capability into South African National Science Academy (SANSA).
The second round of the project on building human capacity around Legume Science aimed at addressing food security and poverty in Africa was launched by the DST in collaboration with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Tshwane University of Technology (TUT). South Africa hosted its first Southern African Development Community (SADC) Policy Training Workshop in October 2OI2. Those workshops were aimed at building science and technology policy capacity in the SADC region. Joint Committee meetings were convened with Australia and Japan with the key focus on new opportunities to strengthen human capital development in areas such as astronomy, space science and technology.
With regard to Human Capital and Knowledge, the Accreditation and Certification of norms and standards for traditional medicine were finalised. An Indigenous Knowledge National Recordal System's Communication Plan was approved by the executive committee (EXCO). A total of 54 entrepreneurs were developed during this reporting period. The first cohort of 26 entrepreneurs trained through Sasol ChemCity had reached sustainability and were handed over to the Sasol ChemCity aftercare team. New 22 entrepreneurs from M'wamitwa village in Limpopo started training in August. Already, the cohort had had a total profit of more than R50 000 jointly with an average of over R2 000 per entrepreneur. An additional six entrepreneurs were being trained by the Nkowankowa Distribution Centre through the mentoring programme of the Sasol ChemCity. In terms of promoting the new amended R&D tax incentives; to date seven meetings with private companies were held, three meetings with consulting firms, and meetings with the Pharmaceutical Industry Association of South Africa (PlASA) and South African Clinical Research Association (SACRA) industry association had been held.
The report on the Evaluation of S&T capabilities for the weather services had been completed and would be approved before the end of the financial year. The R&D survey 2010/11 had been received and the Clearance Committee had recommended that the report be approved for publication. Policy interventions were successfully completed and these included exploring the opportunities of an African-Based System of Innovation, preserving and providing access to South African Social Science and Humanities Research Data.
The DG concluded that the Medium Term Strategic Framework (MTSF) and NRDS informed the Department's work. 42% of its annual targets had already been achieved. Human capital development, knowledge generation and exploitation, infrastructure and Africa collaboration would remain key focus areas. The DST was committed in achieving at least 80% of its targets in the current financial year.
Ms J Terblanche (DA) asked whether the Legume product included soya because there was protein in it and it was very helpful for patients that were suffering from HIV/AIDS to assist with the immune system.
Ms S Molau-Plaatjie (COPE) asked what the reasons were for not achieving the three targets that the DG mentioned in his presentation.
Ms P Mocumi (ANC) asked what the Department was doing to ensure that the countries like Brazil, Norway, that had agreements with the Department in terms of intake of students participating in international research projects honoured those commitments.
Ms J Kloppers-Lourens (DA) asked whether the Department was involved in the research to provide clean water in municipalities which was a very urgent requirement.
She requested the Department to provide a final document of the report because there was confusion between the first document and the second one which was presented in that meeting.
She asked where the prosperous society would be created in terms of the vision of the Department that was to create a prosperous society - how was the Department involved in creating that prosperous society?
She asked how the DST collaborated with the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries and if there were many departments that cut across the portfolio - how they interacted with them and how it affected their work?
She asked whether the in terms of the differences in improvements between 61% and 65%, and 42% as opposed to 31% why the difference, what happened, and there was an 80% target, what it entailed exactly.
She asked what the current status was of the DST partnership with the Space Science and Technology Unit.
She asked why specifically the Tshwane University of Technology was involved in the Legume project.
She asked what the difference was between the KAT-7 precursor array of dish antennas and the MeerKAT array itself. Were the antennas going to be redesigned and where would they be manufactured?
The Chairperson requested Members not to dwell on other issues but stick to what was presented by DST in that meeting.
Ms H Line (ANC) how was the Department was going to ensure that the people in rural villages would know about the Indigenous Knowledge National Record System so that it could record information.
Mr P Smith (IFP) asked why the Department planned its expenditure in December from 54% to 70% in January when it was only a month's difference.
He asked if there were bulk transfers in terms of programmes; the actual figure should had been 100% because the Department was in the last quarter; or, if the transfers were retained, they should be at 90% - why was it retaining a small amount?
He asked which targets were redesigned by the Department and how, because it was aiming for 80% targets and whether their targets were sufficiently measurable.
He asked why the Department was reporting annually on some targets and reporting quarterly on others.
Ms M Dunjwa (ANC) asked if it was possible to get a detailed report on the contribution of the Department on the outcomes.
She asked what the reason was for the proposal that had been submitted by Technology Innovation Agency (TIA) which was not accepted by the Department in terms human capital and knowledge systems.
She also asked if it was possible for the Department in terms of finances to elaborate more on the deviation from the revised plan of 2010 on programme administration.
Ms Terblanche asked whether, in terms of the marine and coastal management protection, it would include in future biodiversity environment, not only marine but also the diverse plant life which were clear indicators of global warming.
The DG apologised for the different versions of the document and the Department had taken the advice of forwarding documents seven days prior to the presentation.
The DG replied that the Department had a range of awareness programmes in which it had partnered with the South African Agency for Science and Technology Advancement (SAASTA). Some were specific to the range of programmes in DST, in Astronomy, technology and the broader space. It also had the Youth into Science Strategy Programme including the 18 Naledi schools that the Department was adopting. The Department knew that its mandate was not to assist in the school system; however, it worked very closely with the Department of Basic Education (DBE) so as to identify technologies in which it could pilot inventions to assist the schooling system. For instance, it had a programme which it was piloting for the use of tablets and computers for providing education to learners and training teachers, and the Human Sciences Research Council (HRSC) was monitoring the soft side of that programme. In the broader society the system was broader than just the schooling system and the Department had a range of outreach programmes for the society like the National Science Week.
There were programmes in partnership with the SABC. The Department had agreed to have an outreach programme for the society and the work that it was doing was not only for the younger generation but included the older generation as well.
The Department had signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with relevant departments to have pilot programmes on food security in rural areas. The Department had pilot programmes with the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) under the sustainable livelihood work programmes.
The DG replied that the KAT-7 precursor array of dish antennas was a prototype. One of the things South African Square Kilometre Array (SKA) project did was to use the results from the KAT-7 dishes to get big sense of whether one was able to receive those signals and enhance them in the best possible way. Because the receiver in the middle of the dish was supported by pillars attached to the curved part of the dish, those pillars stood in the way of the signals that one sought to receive. So a new design called 'Gregorian Offset Dishes' had been introduced in which the receiver was not at the middle but slightly offset. So as one went through various stages of prototypes one learned and results improved.
The DG gave information on the Department's implementation of Cabinet’s approval that the South African National Space Agency (SANSA) further explore the acquisition of an equity stake in SunSpace. The Department had been asked to examine how it could incorporate the expertise and skills within the SunSpace satellite programme.
The DG replied that some of the targets were easier to break down into quarterly targets and others were not easy.
The DG replied that the budget of transfers was divided into two parts, there was something called the Parliamentary Grant which was the amount of money negotiated and requested by the institutions from DST. The other transfers were the programmes that were funded by the Ministry where one expected quarterly reports to be given to the Department and monitoring progress before transfers were given. Sometimes one found that institutions did not give them satisfactory reports and therefore the Department did not transfer the money because it required reasons why those milestones had not been achieved.
Mr Imraan Patel, DST Deputy Director-General: Socio-economic Partnerships, explained the DST's role in funding research on new technology for delivering clean water to communities. It was also reviewing the transfer of existing mature technologies. Its role was not to rollout but study implementation and new approaches to assist the Department of Water Affairs, municipalities, etc.
Mr Patel replied that the DST would come back to the Committee to report on R&D tax incentives as it usually did on an annual basis. It was necessary to understand the structure of the projects involved to understand the numbers.
Mr Pater replied that the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) was one of the DST's strongest partners in well-developed programmes that encompassed the national biodiversity. The DST was funding particular programmes like the South African Environmental Observation Network (SAEON) programme, and supported it as a knowledge platform.
The Chairperson thanked the Department for the presentation and responses. The Committee was looking forward to its next presentation on the annual performance plan.
Draft Committee Programme
The Chairperson informed Members that the Committee programme had some few changes that they should go through.
Ms Shanaaz Isaacs, Committee Secretary, said that the changes were that the DG presentation on Annual Performance Plan should be brought forward from the 27 March to the 13 March 2013. Secondly, requested the Committee to consider moving the agenda of the 13 March 2013 which was the update on the strategy to increase research and development expenditure in South Africa.
She also said that the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) gave an indication that they were ready to present and due to the gap of 20 March 2013 it could possibly be accommodated on that day.
The Committee adopted the programme.
The meeting was adjourned.
No related documents
- We don't have attendance info for this committee meeting
Download as PDF
You can download this page as a PDF using your browser's print functionality. Click on the "Print" button below and select the "PDF" option under destinations/printers.
See detailed instructions for your browser here.