Technology Innovation Agency and Academy of Science of South Africa Strategic & Annual Performance Plans 2013

Science and Technology

18 April 2013
Chairperson: Mr N Ngcobo (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Academy of Science of South Africa said there were five government goals to which it was aligned. These included strengthening skills and the resource base; regional development; African advancement and international cooperation; improvement of the health profile of society; improvement of rural development and food security and improvement of environmental assets and natural resources.

The presentation covered a wide range of achievements by the Academy in the past financial year, and gave details of the programmes to be implemented during the 2013/14 period.  The budget covering the Medium Term Expenditure Framework was also presented.

Discussion covered the Academy’s role in the promotion of interest and awareness of science education, its relationship with the Human Sciences Research Council and the Africa Institute of SA, the criteria for membership of the Council, its involvement in the fracking debate, rural development and food security, and its interaction with the international astronomic community.  Details of the Nuclear Energy Safety Symposium were also sought.

The Technology Innovation Agency said that all the programmes and actions within the entity were geared towards the mandate of making South Africa globally competitive.  There were strategic partnerships with entities such as the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, the HSRC, the Industrial Development Corporation, Sasol and Eskom.  Various initiatives were underway, such as enhancing education through the use of technology, promoting employability and sustainable livelihoods, and stimulating economic growth through techno-entrepreneurial innovation skills. The strategic initiatives for the year ahead included unlocking the potential of small, medium and micro enterprises through intensive use of technology stations.

Members asked questions about fracking, the German dual learning system and the marketing of the Agency’s activities.

There were only two Members in attendance, as many had sent apologies.

Meeting report

The Chairperson said there were few Members present, as there were many apologies and Members were not present owing to circumstances outside of their control.  The meeting could still continue as there was no need for a quorum on the matter being discussed, as it was a presentation on annual performance plans.

Briefing by Academy of Science South Africa Strategic and Annual Performance Plan 2013
Professor Daya Reddy , President of the Academy of Science South Africa (ASSAf), said that he would cover activities from 2011/12, as these had not been covered in the past, as well as more recent activities.

He presented on the dual mandate of ASSAf, which encompassed excellence and service. ASSAf goals included the recognition and reward of excellence; promotion of innovation and scholarly activity; promotion of effective, evidence-based scientific advice; promotion of interest in and awareness of science education and promotion of national, regional and international linkages

He stated there were five government goals to which ASSAf was aligned. These included strengthening skills and the resource base; regional development; African advancement and international cooperation; improvement of the health profile of society; improvement of rural development and food security and improvement of environmental assets and natural resources

 He outlined the programmes which included governance and administration, communication and publications, liaison activities, the scholarly publishing programme and the policy advisory programme.

Key achievements in the governance and administration area in 2011/12 included the appointment of Professor Reddy as Council advisor, the appointment of a new National Advisory Council on Innovation (NACI) representative to Council, the holding of four Council meetings, the achievement of an unqualified audit, and 35 new members being elected (bringing the total to 368).

The Governance and Administration, in 2013/14, sought to promote good governance, promote recognition of members and participation in ASSAf activities, pursue closer alignment of ASSAf activities and the Department’s goals, and coordinate discussions on ASSAf strategic goals

Key achievements of the Scholarly Publishing Programme 2011/12 included the National Scholarly Editors’ Forum (NSEF), National Scholarly Book Publishers’ Forum, the discipline-grouped peer review of SA scholarly journals, an Open Access Platform, online scientific writing – with International Academies of Medical Practice (IAMP) funding -- and access to core commercial databases.  The programme in 2013/14, sought to promote access to knowledge resources, undertake quality assurance (journals, books and collected works), and enhance scientific writing for scholarly publishing

Prof Reddy spoke about the South African Journal of Science, which was a scholarly journal located within the Academy.  It was local and had a local editor-in-chief. It was peer reviewed and was ISI recognized and very much ‘part of the system’.   Of the articles that were submitted for publication, only 24% made it into the journal, which was an indication of the rigour of the peer review and the standard the journal sought to maintain.

Key achievements of the Police Advisory Programme 2011/12 included completion of two consensus studies, hosting of a workshop on “Pathways towards a Low Carbon City” at the COP17 meeting in Durban, the launch of the joint Institute of Medicine (IOM)/ASSAf report on “The Emerging Threat of Drug-resistant TB in Southern Africa”, a workshop with IOM on “Envisioning a Strategy to prepare for Long-term Burden of HIV/AIDS”, and the monitoring and evaluation of a consensus study report on “Clinical Research in SA”.   The Academy had also hosted a workshop and published a policymakers’ booklet, together with the Network of African Science Academies (NASAC) on “Science, Water & Sanitation: Supporting Equitable and Sustainable Development in Southern Africa”.  It had hosted a symposium on “Nuclear Energy Safety” and a workshop with the Mauritius Academy of Science & Technology on “Agricultural Genetic Modification Policy in Africa”.  In collaboration, it had produced a policymakers’ booklet on “Inquiry-based Science Education: Increasing Participation of Girls in Science in sub-Saharan Africa”, and established a Standing Committee on Health and obtained Council approval for a Standing Committee on Humanities.

The Police Advisory Programme, in 2013/14, sought to initiate and facilitate evidence-based projects on health, education, humanities, biosafety and biosecurity, environment and energy studies.  It would also reconceptualise ASSAf forum studies, see an increased generation of assessment studies on national priority areas, conduct commentaries on government policies, and bring about the localisation and domestication of evidence-based reports

Key achievements of the Liaison Programme in 2011/12 included being awarded the Sydney Brenner post-doctoral fellowship and two Science-for-Society gold medals.   The Academy hosted the visit of distinguished scholar, Prof Ernst-Ludwig Winnacker, as well as the annual Young Scientists’ Conference – “Changing Lives through Chemistry.”   The launch of the SA Young Academy of Science (SAYAS) took place in September 2011.   The Agency continued its presidency of NASAC and engaged in Academy capacity-building initiatives with Mauritius and Zimbabwe, with a Memorandum of Understanding being signed with the Mauritius Academy of Science and Technology (MAST). 

The Liaison Programme in 2013/14 sought to strengthen relations with international science academies and networks, strengthen relations with national stakeholders in the National System of Innovation (NSI), promote young scientists’ activities, and recognise, reward and promote excellence in science.

Key achievements of the Communication and Publications Programme in 2011/12 included the publication of four issues of Quest (with a print run of 25 000), which was marketed at 14 science events. Advertising in Quest increased by more than 50% compared with the previous year, and 26 media statements were released.  Six issues of the South African Journal of Science (SAJS) were published

The Communication and Publications Programme, in 2013/14, sought to initiate a campaign to raise the Academy’s profile, produce and disseminate ASSAf Policy Advisory Reports, monitor the impact and uptake of evidence-based reports, produce and disseminate SAJS and Quest and monitor their impact, and raise science awareness and engagement through cooperation with government, learning institutions, science advancement entities and business.

Mr Morakeng Chiloane, Chief Financial Officer, ASSAf, presented the budget, covering the Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) period.  The total projected income was R21.71m in 2013/14, R22.56m in 2014/2015 and R23.98m in 2015/16.

The Chairperson said that the presentation had been very clear for the first time.

Ms J Kloppers-Lourens (DA) asked how ASSAf went about ‘the promotion of interest in and awareness of science education.’  


Ms Kloppers-Lourens sought clarification on the different types of studies.

Professor Roseanne Diab, Executive Officer of ASSAf, said the consensus study was the strongest study one could embark on. One appointed a panel and the panel deliberated on a topic and a consensus was reached and a recommendation issued. A form study was more like a workshop, where experts presented papers and a report was published, but no consensus recommendations were given. The consensus study was more likely to influence study.  Forum studies assessed the state of a matter and these kinds of studies would be conducted on a regular basis.

Ms Kloppers-Lourens asked what happened with the results of an assessment study?

Prof Diab replied that an assessment study had not yet been completed, but results would be given to the sponsor as well as proliferated on a number of platforms.

Working with HSRC
Ms Kloppers-Lourens asked if ASSAf cooperated with the HSRC and the Africa Institute of SA (AISA) as they focused on research in Africa and had a focus of Africa.

Prof Diab replied that there were no formal links to the HSRC and they interacted with them through studies published, as well as participating in various meetings they had held.  ASSAf was also collaborating with them in the forthcoming World Social Science Forum which was soon to come. There had been no interaction with AISA.

Council Member
Ms Kloppers-Lourens asked if Professor Reddy still acted as a Council member.

Prof Reddy replied that being a Council advisor had taken place a year before he had become President.  After becoming a full member of the Council, he was eventually elected as President.

Ms Kloppers-Lourens asked what criteria were used when it came to membership.

Prof Reddy replied that members were elected by the Academy. The portfolio of the candidate had to encompass excellence and service -- the dual mandate of ASSAf.  The vision they had for their role in the Academy was also considered. The entire membership was then asked to vote on the nominations. ASSAf was not happy about this voting process as it asked all members, irrespective of their discipline, to vote and this sometimes meant there was a low voting turn out. There had been an investigation into other academies and there had been a consideration of a voting process that was more discipline focused.

Workshop qualifications
Ms Kloppers-Lourens asked if the workshops gave students a specific qualification once completed.

Prof Diab replied it was a system meant to benefit all students and students could move up the tiers. There was no qualification that came with it, however.

State of Humanities Study
Ms Kloppers-Lourens asked if the ASSAf knew that the Minister of Higher Education had also done a study on the state of humanities. Had there been a collaboration?

Professor Reddy replied that there had been liaison amongst groups and ASSAf saw their role as providing independent input into the debate.  The standing committee in terms of this issue had thought to include a member of Minister Nzimande’s standing group on the matter, in order to strengthen ties.

Ms Kloppers-Lourens asked why there had been no mention of fracking and related activities.  What was being done in this regard?

Prof Diab replied that fracking was part of a debate on green technologies within South Africa.

Ms Kloppers-Lourens asked for more information on the pilot in Gauteng and the initiatives of the La Main a la Pate Project.

Rural development and food security
Ms M Dunjwa (ANC) asked for clarity on the goals. She asked about the improvement of rural development and food security -- how was this to be done?

Professor Diab replied that there had been studies done on subsistence agriculture and genetically modified organisms (GMOs). There had also been a study done on local economic development in small towns and reports were to be published.

Coordination on matters of HIV/AIDS
The Chairperson asked if ASSAf had coordinated with the HSRC on the issue of HIV/AIDS, as they had a programme that dealt specifically with HIV/AIDS in Africa. There were also other programmes that dealt with the matter.  Did ASSAf collaborate with them?

Prof Diab replied there had not been a formal collaboration to host the workshops and initiatives. However the HSRC and other members of various organisations had attended in their individual capacities.

Nuclear Energy Safety Symposium
The Chairperson asked for more information about the symposium on Nuclear Energy Safety.  When had it occurred and what fruits had it produced? How far had issues relating to climate been dealt with within the symposium?

Indigenous knowledge systems
The Chairperson said he had never heard in all the briefings of anything that related to indigenous knowledge systems.  These were important, but had been omitted.

Professor Diab replied that a study had been published which had a whole chapter on indigenous knowledge systems.

Dual roles with NACI
The Chairperson asked for clarification on the role of ASSAf compared to that of the National Advisory Council on Innovation (NACI). Were these roles not duplicated?  How did ASSAf help NACI to advance its role within the Ministry?

Prof Diab replied that there had been meetings held with the Department and NACI on the matter.

The Chairperson asked how far ASSAf interacted with the international astronomic community. He said that he had been to conferences and been told that South Africa had not given any input. He had been asked to give names of students who could be given scholarships to further themselves in the field.

Professor Diab replied that ASSAf would be happy to act as a portal for these students.

Professor Reddy replied that there was a great deal of activity on astronomy within the country and there was no shortage of capable young people to send to these conferences.

Briefing by Technology Innovation Agency on Strategic and Annual Performance Plan 2013
Mr Simphiwe Duma, Chief Executive Officer of the Technology Innovation Agency (TIA), said that all the programmes and actions within the TIA were  geared towards having an impact on society and work in the global environment. All activities were steered towards the mandate of making South Africa globally competitive.

The presentation covered the mandate of the TIA, the TIA Act [No 26 of 2008], the vision, mission and context in which the TIA operated.  Mr Duma described who TIA customers were, a TIA stakeholder and what stakeholder needs were.  The TIA sought to align themselves to government outcomes and Departmental policy mandates. There had been various links to government outcomes namely outcomes 2, 4,5 and 7. These included Outcome 2 - a long and healthy life for South Africans, outcome 4 – decent employment through inclusive economic growth, outcome 5 - a skilled and capable workforce, and outcome 7 - vibrant, equitable and sustainable rural communities and food security. There was also a link to the Department’s Ten Year Innovative Plan.

The presentation outlined the TIA sectors and stated that the choice of sectors was influenced by drivers and hurdles that were encountered economically, socially and environmentally. There were cross-cutting technology sectors, as well as industry/economic sectors. The industry/economic sectors included industrial biotech, advanced manufacturing, ICT and special projects. Cross-cutting sectors included the agricultural, health, energy and mining sectors.

Mr Duma said that there were various offerings throughout the Technological Innovation Value Chain, such as funding instruments, business support and strategic partnerships, technology development infrastructure and innovation skills development. Funding instruments included the IP fund, the Seed Fund, the Technology Development Fund, Youth Technology Innovation Fund, Industry Matching Fund and Venture Capital Fund.  There had also been business support given.

There were strategic partnerships with entities such as the CSIR, HSRC, Industrial Development Corporation, the NRF, SASOL and ESKOM.  Various initiatives were underway, such as enhancing education through the use of technology, promoting employability and sustainable livelihoods, and stimulating economic growth through techno-entrepreneurial innovation skills.

Mr Duma outlined the strategic initiatives for the year ahead which included unlocking the potential of small, medium and micro enterprises (SMMEs) through intensive use of technology stations.   In terms of this, he outlined the state of SMMEs in the European Union and South Africa. He spoke of the global competitiveness report on South Africa and technology stations as an intervention to assist SMMEs. 

The presentation covered strategic objectives which were as follows:

●          To stimulate the development and demonstration of technology based products, processes and services
●          To support the commercialisation of technology innovations
●          To develop an enabling environment for technology innovation and commercialisation in South Africa
●          To develop an enabling internal environment for TIA to successfully execute its strategy
●          To facilitate the development of innovation skills to support technology innovation and commercialisation
●          To become a schedule 3B entity in terms of the Public Finance Management Act

The presentation covered the budget as well.

The Chairperson said that he had thought the transition of the Board would be mentioned.

Ms Helen Brown, Member of the TIA Board, wanted to thank the Portfolio Committee for their support.  The Department and Ministry as a whole seemed satisfied with the progress that had been made. As a Board they had witnessed a number of conversions over the years, and a great deal of integration as well as innovative ideas had come through. Most Board members had expressed their satisfaction at the state in which they had left the organisation.

Ms Kloppers-Lourens asked about the issue of fracking and asked the presenters to speak to that.

Mr Duma replied that he had to admit TIA had not done much, and had not been approached by anyone. The policy was that if anyone did need help then they utilised their strategic partnerships to assist. No one, however, had approached them, thus nothing had been done.

Mr Val Munsami, Deputy Director General of Research, Development and Innovation, replied that the Department had taken an active role in the issue of fracking.  Initially there had been field studies and these needed to be taken further with desk top studies. There were a number of studies that needed to be conducted.  From the Department’s perspective, the focus was on energy and astronomy.

The Chairperson said that Shell had done a great deal of research on the matter but there was a need for the government to conduct independent research.

German Dual learning System
Ms Kloppers-Lourens asked if TIA was aware of the dual learning systems in place in Germany in which students learned at schools and worked in companies as well. This system had been very successful.

Ms Brown replied she had sat on the Minister’s steering committee for dual system apprenticeship and had shared a great deal of information and knowledge around developing engineering skills.  TIA and the committee had been swapping information on the matter of dual system apprenticeship. There was also a programme in place that would ensure knowledge transfer from Germany to South Africa in terms of education and further education systems to make sure that the dual system of internship could be systematized through public education institutions.

Mr Duma said that TIA had been working with  Gesellschaft fur Internasionale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) and had a programme with them in Germany.  There were moves to learn from them. There had been various initiatives, including a request for PhD students to study within the country.

Ms Kloppers-Lourens asked why only two percent of budget went to marketing and branding, as much of South Africa did not know about TIA.

Mr Duma replied that TIA had been looking at better ways to market itself, and this would be done mainly through the use of programmes that were to be launched.

Ways to reach TIA
Mr Duma replied that there were regional offices in which TIA could be contacted and there were satellite offices being opened up in areas where there had been increased activities. One could also reach the TIA through the internet.

The meeting was adjourned.


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