The Department of Science and Technology briefed the Committee on the Review of the South African Science, Technology and Innovation Institutional Landscape (STIIL) Report. Minister Naledi Pandor had appointed the STIIL Panel in November 2015 to deal with a number of key questions, including whether the current structure and function enabled the STIIL to effectively respond to socio-economic needs.
The Review resulted in a number of recommendations, including the need to develop and over-arching policy framework which defined the role of period re-investigations, and the establishment of an evaluation framework which would inform strategic measures to improve productivity across the STII landscape. The Review recognised the need for a national regulatory policy framework. Consideration had to be given to restructuring of existing institutions.
Based on the recommendations of the review, the Department would pursue a roadmap for the expansion of STIIL. The STIIL roadmap would be an input into the new Decadal Plan.
Members were particularly concerned about whether the STIIL had any impact on the White Paper. Members asked if there were two separate processes in that the Roadmap of STIIL was completely independent from the White Paper or whether there was synergy between the two processes.
The Chairperson welcomed everyone and asked everyone to introduce themselves. She asked Mr Makhode to go straight into the presentation.
Briefing by the Department of Science and Technology on the Review of the South African Science, Technology and Innovation Institutional Landscape(STIIL) Report
Mr Tommy Makhode, Deputy Director-General (DDG): Department of Science and Technology (DST), said that the then Minister, Naledi Pandor, had appointed the STIIL Panel in November 2015. The Panel had been tasked to address the following questions:
- Was the current STIIL able to optimally assist in the achievement of the country’s development priorities?
- Did the current structure and function enable the STIIL to effectively respond to socio-economic needs?
- If no to either of the above, what measures were needed to address the inadequacies?
One of the undertakings was to look at the National System of Innovation (NSI), especially in Brics countries. Some of the key findings of the comparison of NSI in six countries were:
- The NSI reflected the country’s evolutionary history in all cases;
- In Cuba: STI institutions were well-organised and steered through relatively uncomplicated systems;
- In India: structurally similar to SA, but remained small and was under-utilised;
- In Brazil: resembled the SA situation and orientated towards addressing socio-economic and political challenges;
- In Russia: highly effective and well-capacitated during the Cold War but with the demise of the USSR, the public sector had been forced into austerity; and
- In China: STI institutions were well coordinated and steered through a planning structure similar to Cuba. China now rivalled the USA as the fastest growing emerging economy due to massive investments in STI.
A number of recommendations were made in the STIIL Review Report, indicating that it was necessary to:
- Develop an overarching policy framework PRIs (Periodic Reinvestigations), describing their purpose, functions, national relevance and governance for the next 30 years
- Review mandates of PRIs with regard to the ability to support among other things the newly established policy framework;
- Establish an evaluation framework to assess and compare the efficiency levels thus enabling informed strategic measures to improve productivity across the STII landscape;
- Expand the STII landscape through establishment of new PRIs and the necessary restructuring of existing institutions; and
- Design and establish a national regulatory policy framework.
Based on the recommendations of the review, the Department would pursue a roadmap for the expansion of STIIL. The STIIL roadmap would be an input into the new Decadal Plan (December 2018).
Dr A Lotriet (DA) asked if STIIL had had any impact on the White Paper.
Mr N Koornhof (ANC) said that his question was similar to that of Dr Lotriet, and maybe he could just rephrase it. He asked if there were two separate processes or if the Update of STIIL and the Roadmap of STIIL was one process. He asked if the Roadmap was completely separate from and independent of the White Paper, or whether there were interactions between the two.
Dr S Thembekwayo (EFF) said that her first question was similar to, if not exactly the same, as those of Dr Lotriet and Mr Koornhof.
The Chairperson expressed agreement with the questions by Dr Lotriet and Mr Koornhof and asked Mr Makhode where the synergy was between the White Paper and SIILT.
Mr Makhode replied that, at the outset, the intention was to run the processes in parallel. There were many differences amongst the Panel members in terms of how to approach the work. That had led to the Chairperson resigning. The Minister had had two sessions with Panel members just to redirect them to work out which institutions were needed, what the gaps were and what the institutional model should be. The Panel had made certain pronouncements about institutions but had not said which institutions were required. That was why the Department had done the work around the White Paper internally.
Mr Koornhof said the STIIL Roadmap would be an input into the new Decadal Plan, but obviously the White Paper would always have an influence on the process.
Dr Thembakwayo asked about the Strategic Management Model: “The creation of research and tech transfer support service in the DST (2005/6)”. How would one create provision for such a proposed action?
Mr Makhode said that the model had been adopted by Cabinet to assist the Department in coordinating the process in the absence of legislation. That involved looking at, for example, how to define technology coordination in the White Paper. What the Department had learnt from other countries, in terms of coordination, was that no country had perfect coordination, and one of the recommendations was to rather go for ‘soft’ coordination. The experts around the world were advised the Department not to pursue the legislative option.
Ms Nomkhosi Peter, Director: DST said that one could argue that that aspect had been attended to with the establishment of a Chief Directorate within the DST. The DST was a not a Research & Development organisation, so it would not actually make sense to have that capacity within the DST, but to rather have the capacity by extending it to a fifth entity within the NSI to conduct the tech transfer function.
Regarding the ‘Concluding Remarks’, Dr Thembakwayo asked what would happen if the National Advisory Council on Innovation (NACI) did not provide the framework as promised.
Mr Makhode said that monitoring was taking place to ensure that the deadline was met.
Ms C King (DA) referred to the Strategic Management Model (SMM) table on page 5 where one of the proposed action items was “Institutional mechanism to coordinate tertiary education research funding”. Given that there was a move into an era of digitisation, she asked why skills for future development were not portrayed in the school curriculum because that would definitely have an impact on Higher Education as well.
Mr Makhode said that one had to consult Chapter 2 of the current Draft White Paper because there was a need to expand on the initiatives that had done well. It was the intention of the Department to seize the opportunity presented by digitisation. A lot of detail was provided in the White Paper, and a lot of input had been received from the Department of Basic Education.
Ms King noted that one of the recommendations was that a centralised research centre was preferred. She expressed her wholehearted support for that option.
The Chairperson said the draft would be available to Members in October.
The Meeting was adjourned.
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.