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ARTS, CULTURE, SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE Mr S Dithebe (ANC)
19 February 2003
ARTS AND CULTURE; SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY AGREEMENTS BETWEEN RSA AND NIGERIA: BRIEFING
Documents handed out:
Briefing on Arts and Culture agreement with Nigeria (Appendix 1)
Briefing on Science and Technology agreement with Nigeria (Appendix 2)
ARTS, CULTURE, SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
Mr S Dithebe (ANC)
[email protected] for a copy of the following documents.
Agreement between Nigeria and South Africa on co-operation in the fields of Arts and Culture
Agreement on Scientific and Technological co-operation between Nigeria and South Africa
Programme of co-operation for the implementation of the agreement on Arts and Culture
The idea for co-operation between South Africa and Nigeria in the fields of Arts and Culture, Science and Technology was first raised in discussions between President Thabo Mbeki and Nigerian Vice-President Atiku Abubakar in 1999. The Agreements were signed at the third session of the Bi-National Conference at Abuja in March 2001. However, a programme of co-operation needs to be endorsed by the Nigerian Minister so that appropriate action may commence. The Science and Technology Agreement will be followed up with a workshop, in which science and technology problems could be identified, and solutions found for them.
Briefing on Arts and Culture Agreement
Mr Victor Julius, Chief Director: International Relations, informed the Committee that the Agreement of Co-operation in the fields of Arts and Culture was a broad, generic document, which has no action to it. The scope of the agreement covers the study of literature, the exchange of study and lecture visits, exchange programmes for the performing and creative arts, exhibitions, dance, drama, co-operation in the field of literature and libraries, and any other form of co-operation which may be mutually agreed upon.
A programme of co-operation (POC) needed to be endorsed, so that the process of artistic and cultural exchange could be entered into. To activate that, it was agreed that a technical team from Nigeria would visit South Africa in August 2001, followed by a team from South Africa who would visit. Unfortunately, this did not happen. Efforts to get both parties to agree upon and endorse a POC have also been unfruitful. Mr Julius reported that Nigeria's Minister of Culture and Tourism, Boma Bromillow Jack, has been consistently unavailable for negotiations on the POC.
At the Bi-National Conference in Pretoria in March 2002, a POC was discussed and agreed upon, whereafter a draft of the agreed Programme was forwarded to the Nigerian Ministry of Culture and Tourism, for comments and approval. However, the Minister has not yet signed the agreement, and since it is the policy in Nigeria that only the Minister can sign such an agreement, the desired co-operation between the two countries has not yet begun. The Department has since resorted to attempting to obtain the necessary signature through diplomatic channels. Mr Julius added that the Department would present the draft for signing to the fifth Bi-National Conference, which will be hosted by Nigeria.
Mr S Opperman (DP) voiced his disappointment that the Committee was being informed of the state of affairs at so late a stage.
Ms A van Wyk (NNP) commented that Nigeria has a rich cultural heritage, with its artefacts being widely sought after by collectors. Unfortunately, the people in possession of these artefacts are not always aware of the value thereof. The same can be said for South Africa, with many of its people being unaware of the value of the country's buildings, artefacts, languages, and so forth. It should be helpful to consider a joint venture into education, to help people understand the value of their artistic and cultural heritage. Another possible joint initiative could be to address the theft and smuggling of cultural artefacts across the borders of countries. Lastly, she mentioned that South Africa has a great deal of expertise in the museum sector, although much improvement is needed at this point. The largely neglected museum sector in Nigeria could benefit greatly from the expertise which South Africa possesses in this regard.
Responding to Ms van Wyk's comments, Mr Julius said that the issues she had raised were dealt with in the Agreement. Although South Africa was late in ratifying UNESCO regulations with regard to illicit trafficking, that problem was being looked at in the context of global efforts to combat illicit trade.
The Acting Chairperson asked if the Programme of Co-operation had any role to play in combating the occurrence of xenophobia in both countries.
Mr Julius responded that the spirit of his sentiment was definitely captured in the agreement. Although the word "xenophobia" was not actually used, the intent of the agreed co-operation is to sensitise people to each other's countries, civilisations, and so forth. The POC creates an environment in which this issue can be addressed. He made a commitment that the Department would make a point of addressing the issue with greater determination.
Ms H Mpaka inquired, with regard to institutions of higher learning being targeted for student exchanges, how ordinary persons, who had not necessarily attended such institutions, could benefit from the practice.
Mr Julius stated that the focus was not solely on engaging the educated. Tertiary institutions do not talk on behalf of crafters, but only for themselves. It has always been the Department's objective to go into rural areas, to ensure that their input was incorporated. The Department was committed to targeting people at grassroots level as well. Experts would not be taken only to deliver lectures at tertiary institutions, but also in the townships and rural areas.
Ms van Wyk inquired if the Minister and Deputy Minister of Arts and Culture were aware of the problems experienced with regard to the signing of the POC. She also asked to what extent the Department was being hampered by budget problems.
Mr Julius responded that the Ministry was completely aware of the problems experienced by the Department in securing the Nigerian Minister's endorsement of the POC. They had not actually targeted the Minister's Office itself, but would bear that in mind for the future.
With regard to budget, Mr Julius remarked that would always be an issue in international relations. Now, the budget stands at just over R5 million, which is very little, considering that one exchange could cost R100 000. The Department is focusing on obtaining resources from developed countries, an initiative in which they have been fairly successful to date.
The Chairperson ended this section of the debate, after commenting that it might be more effective to have a dedicated Ministry of Arts and Culture, just as there is a dedicated Dept of Arts and Culture.
Briefing on Science and Technology Agreement
Dr Botlale Tema: General Manager for International Relations in the Department, informed the Committee that the Agreement on Co-operation signed on March 2001 was a broad statement relating to the areas in which the two countries would co-operate. It was necessary to follow up this document with a workshop, in which Science and Technology problems could be identified, and solutions found for them. At the workshop which ensued, the following four areas were identified for joint co-operation:
-Satellite Technology, which might help to identify weather patterns that could cause natural disasters.
-Biotechnology, which could pave the way to food security.
-Material Science, which could innovate solutions for low-cost housing.
-Environmental Science, to address common problems of environmental degradation and working towards a more sustainable environment.
The workshop developed an action plan which was geared to develop the project proposals stemming from these four focus areas. However, the projects could not be implemented, as there was no budget for that, and the Department was forced to wait for the financial year to end. In this financial year, the Department has allocated R1 million for meetings, and travelling.
With regard to budget, Mr Dithebe asked what would happen if, after both countries had decided on allocating a particular sum of money towards implementing the projects, one of them were to find themselves cash-strapped.
Ms S Motubase-Hounkpatin (ANC) commented that Nigeria is very strong on the possession of indigenous knowledge, and that South Africa might benefit from their knowledge in this area. She later added that it was important that indigenous knowledge and documentation of such knowledge be co-ordinated.
Responding to Mr Dithebe, Dr Tema said that those institutions that engage in the projects under this initiative usually have their own budgets. They are not entirely dependent on Government. The general practice is that when a particular country has a GDP which is beneath that of South Africa, the Government considers investing there, so that sometimes SA allocates more than they do. This is the kind of attitude which the Government wishes to encourage.
On the matter of low-cost housing, Ms van Wyk said that low-cost housing is generally hideous and dehumanising. Just because housing is of necessity low-cost, it does not have to be aesthetically and culturally unpleasant.
Dr Tema agreed that the construction of low-cost housing generally has meant that housing was not aesthetically pleasing. This indicates the importance of the Arts and Culture and Science and Technology Departments working together in order to achieve results that are practically workable, yet pleasing to the senses as well.
The Acting Chairperson emphasised that collaboration between the two Departments was strongly encouraged. The splitting of the Department happened purely for administrative reasons.
Considering that Nigeria and South Africa are the two principle drivers behind the African Union and NEPAD, the Acting Chairperson asked if there were are there dual initiatives, where the bilateral agreements of the POC could be built into the programmes of NEPAD.
Dr Tema responded to the Chairperson by stating that the two Departments needed to be constantly cautioned against developing isolationist attitudes. She added that there is arts in science and science in arts.
She informed the Committee that the five initiating countries of NEPAD were discussing the matter alluded to in the Chairperson's question at that very moment at a conference in Sandton, South Africa. There was a two-fold approach with regard to NEPAD:
-They hoped to invite other third and fourth parties who were interested in any of the four focus areas to be a part of the co-operative.
-To regionalise the focus, for instance, to bring it to SADC, and invite input on that level.
It was hoped that SADC and bilateral projects could be turned into NEPAD projects, the idea being that if a particular project was successful, the idea could then be implemented in other countries.
On the matter of Indigenous Knowledge Systems (IKS), the Department has a dedicated Directorate to drive IKS, and is attempting to bring the country up to a good standard.
Mr N Ngcobo (ANC) asked how far the Department's involvement stretched in the development of scarce skills technology. He also wanted to know how fundamental problems relating to the suppression of black people in the fields of Science and Technology would be dealt with. He cited two specific examples where discrimination had been practiced against black individuals in the field.
Dr Tema responded that South Africa's skills deficit is large and each year attempts are made to improve the situation. Correcting the problem should, however, start at school level. Because few students opt to go into these fields, bursaries are made available as incentives. She added that the deficit was in terms of a lack of black researchers, which constitutes a serious problem, and needs to be seriously addressed. The National Research Foundation (NRF) has good programmes and incentives in place to assist black academics. Extensive self-evaluation must be done, to determine why people are not making use of these incentives. She further asked Mr Ngcobo to bring the discrimination cases which he had mentioned before the Ministry so that it could be properly dealt.
Ms Tshivase said that there were many talented young people who have become school drop-outs, yet some of them have applied their own natural talents technologically. What was being done to help them?
Dr Tema's response was that the NRF has an active corrective programme to deal with that problem. The Ministry is seriously looking into providing programmes for children who are not in schools. She mentioned the provision of out-of-school bursaries and talent development programmes.
With regard to Mr Ngcobo's statement concerning discrimination against certain individuals, Mr Dithebe said that the Committee would take the matter up; this sort of discrimination is usually of a very subtle nature.
South Africa's Membership of International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology
Dr Tema was not prepared to brief the Committee on South Africa's membership of an international centre for genetic engineering and biotechnology. The Chairperson made it clear that this was a very important issue, since South Africa's involvement in the centre was one of the glaring benefits the President alluded to in his state of the nation address. He was certain that it could be pertinent to the improvement of the lives of many of South Africa's people. There was not sufficient information on the matter, and Government should be more accountable for their actions.
The Acting Chairperson thanked the delegates from the Departments of Arts and Culture and from Science and Technology. He hoped that in the aftermath of the Department's split, the two Departments could continue to work together for the betterment of the lives of the peoples of South Africa.
The meeting was adjourned.
BRIEFING ON AGREEMENT BETWEEN SOUTH AFRICA AND NIGERIA ON COOPERATION IN THE FIELDS OF ARTS AND CULTURE
The idea of establishing a South Africa-Nigeria Commission of Ca-operation was first raised during discussions between President Mbeki and Nigerian Vice President Atiku Abubakar at the "Southern Africa Economic Summit" held in Durban from 4 to 6 July 1999.
2. Following the establishment of the South Africa-Nigeria BNC at its inaugural session in October 1999, substantial progress has been made in formalising the recognised strategic relationship between South Africa and Nigeria.
3. While the inaugural session in Abuja largely served to identity potential strategic sectors of ca-operation between South Africa and Nigeria. The second session of the BNC held in South Africa in April 2000 marked the start at bilateral consultations Within those sectors of co-operation identified during the inaugural session, through the establishment of the first formal Working Groups and the conclusion of several co-operation agreements. The Agreements on "Science and Technology" and "Arts and Culture" were signed in Abuja at the 3rd Session of Nigeria/SA BNC.
4. Substantial progress has been made on the highest level of government in this regard, as witnessed by the various international initiatives in which President Mbeki and Vice President Abubakar are playing a leading role, the most at which is the NEPAD.
5. Following the 2001 BNC, there was a need far DAC to negotiate Protocol of Cooperation with Nigerian counterparts. it was agreed that a technical team tram Nigeria was invited to visit South Africa in August 2001 and that a South African team would visit Nigeria in September 2001. The technical teams should comprise experts in the areas of the performing arts, Creative Arts, Heritage, Cultural Industries and Film and Video. The Department would set up an itinerary for the Nigerian visit.
6. Minister Boma Bromillow Jack of Culture and Tourism in Nigeria was invited to visit SA in November 2001 (invitation attached at Tag A). Her visit was to coincide with the South African International Film and Television Market held in Cope Town during the month of November which will include the Technical Team visit. It was also envisaged that during the visit. a meeting between Minister of Environment and Tourism would be set.
7. No response was received in the above regard.
8. During March 2002, the Departmental Parliamentary Officer requested that both Agreements be submitted for ratification. Agreements as stated in Paragraph 3.
9, Minister Boma Bromillow Jack was invited again to South Africa during the WSSD Conference. The two Ministers could not meet as anticipated or planned.
10. During the SNC Meetings held in Pretoria from 25 - 29 March 2002, the POC (Programme of Cooperation) was discussed and agreed upon with our Nigerian counterparts. The agreed draft HOC was forwarded to the Nigerian Ministry of Culture and Tourism for their comments and approval. The DAC have since an numerous occasions tried to finalise the signing of the P00 for the implementation of activities covered under the HOC. The Department was informed that only Minister Bromillow Jack could sign the P0C. This has resulted in the non-implementation of any cultural activities between the two countries.
The DAC have since our previous efforts resorted to diplomatic channels with regard to the signing of the HOC (Tag B). DAC have to date not received any response in this regard. It is envisaged that the draft will he presented for signing during the BNC to be hosted by Nigeria.
BRIEFING ON SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY AGREEMENT WITH NIGERIA
South Africa signed a S&T agreement with Nigeria during the presidential BNC meeting which was held in Abuja, Nigeria from 11 to 15 March 2001. During the BNC South Africa presented a Programme On Cooperation (POC), which was also discussed.
It was agreed that in order to activate and implement the signed S&T agreement it would be necessary to have reciprocal in depth fact-finding visits between Nigerian and South African Scientific and Technical Experts and this had to happen before the negotiated Programme on Cooperation (POC) could be signed.
In pursuit to the agreement DACST invited a Nigerian S&T technical team to visit South Africa. The visit to the science and technology institutions culminated in a two-day workshop held from 22 to 23 March 2002. Five top Nigerian scientists and forty South African scientists attended. The workshop focused on developing a joint research program for both countries. Thirteen potential projects in the four focused areas were identified. The priority areas identified are:
· Material science; and
· Environmental science
An action plan to develop concrete project proposals was also developed during the workshop. Which entailed the following;
· Constitution of the Joint Committee for Scientific and
Technological cooperation, including relevant officials and experts
· Selection of priority projects and seminars
· Development of proposals for priority projects and costing
· Secure funding for projects
· Exchange visits
· Commencement of projects
It was agreed that it would be important to speed up the formation of the Joint Committee for the Scientific and Technological Cooperation (JSTC), which will include relevant officials and experts from both countries. Concrete project proposals to be developed and will be evaluated through the JSTC.
The development of concrete project proposal could also assist if] reversing the brain drain of S&T experts and scientists in Africa and also improve research capacity especially at the Historically Disadvantaged Institutions (HDJ).
The 4th session of the BNC between the Government of the Republic of SA and the Government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria was held in Pretoria from 25 28 March 2002. During the BNC, the POC on S&T was signed and a sum of $100 000 USD, which is equivalent to R1.0 million, was set aside by each country as seed money for projects under the S&T agreements between the two countries.
On the 6th February 2003, a plenary meeting for the SA/Nigeria S&T Joint Committee (JC) was held. The purpose of the meeting was to identify project proposals. The committee agreed to select a few projects and be responsible for driving these projects. They should also find funding for the projects. The meeting agreed to visit Nigeria after the elections, which are going to be held in April 2003. The relationship between the two countries would help in capacity building in a mutual way.
The meeting agreed on the following action plan:
a) Project proposals to be submitted to DST (within a week) and DST would consolidate them into one document
b) Send the consolidated projects proposals to the Ambassador of Nigeria in South Africa
c) Organise a meeting with the Ambassador (for forma] presentation of proposals)
d) Visit Nigeria
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