The Science, Technology and Innovation Decadal Plan, resources for STI and coordination of the public STI budget

Higher Education, Science and Innovation

03 June 2022
Chairperson: Ms N Mkhatshwa (ANC)
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Meeting Summary


STI White Paper

The Portfolio Committee on Higher Education, Science and Innovation had a joint meeting with several other parliamentary committees to receive a briefing from the Department of Science and Innovation (DSI) on the Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) White Paper and the Department’s 10-year, or decadal, plan. The briefing also dealt with the financial resources for science and innovation and coordinated science and innovation budgets across government departments.

The Committee heard that rapid technological changes globally required new policy responses to deal with climate change, environmental degradation and geopolitical instabilities. Locally, there was a need to use innovation to deal with low economic growth and rising unemployment, poor education outcomes and infrastructure backlogs.

The White Paper was a high level, long term, policy document, while the decadal plan was a medium term plan for the period from 2021 to 2031. It was a detailed document on what technology areas would be focused on, the resources that would be required, and the risk indicators for those selected technologies.

The STI programmes in the decadal plan included innovation in health, energy security, and creating a capable and inclusive state. It focused on finding sources of new economic growth for a re-industrialised, modern economy, and on modernising existing industries such as agriculture, mining, and manufacturing. In partnership with the private sector, the DSI looked into opportunities to transform the Bushveld complex and larger region around Johannesburg, Mogalakwena and Durban into a Hydrogen Valley, which could create 60 000 technically inclined jobs and expand the economy by R190 billion by 2045. 

The DSI noted that the STI budget had been affected by inadequate support for research and development activities in government departments and funding allocated for STI had frequently been moved to other priorities. The Cabinet had approved a process for coordinating the budgets for STI activities, resulting in high-level progress being made.

Members of the committees raised various issues. Was the DSI working on the local fertiliser production to offset high import costs in the light of soaring food prices? What impact would the current energy crisis have on the hydrogen projects?

Doubts were raised about the ability of local governments to budget for science and innovation. Members said the country relied too much on imported information technology and asked what was being done to prepare government departments for the fourth industrial revolution.

They asked what was being done to improve connectivity at rural schools and improve maths and science teaching. They noted a need to protect local innovators from exploitation by big companies and a  need for indigenous knowledge to be protected. 

Meeting report

The Chairperson said the Portfolio Committee on Higher Education, Science and Innovation (the Committee) had asked the Director-General of the Department of Science and Innovation (DSI) what assistance was needed in finalising and implementing the Department’s decadal plan on science, technology and innovation (STI). The response had been that there was a need to integrate STI into government as a whole. STI did not belong exclusively to the DSI, but was part and parcel of the planning processes of all the departments across government. The use of science and technology was integral to efforts to accelerate development in the country.

There was a need for integrating science and technology initiatives, and a need for better budget coordination across government, specifically earmarking funds for science and innovation. The Committee had decided to create a platform where the DSI could explain the decadal plan to various committees to ensure that the departments they oversaw integrated science and technology into their programmes and made specific budget allocations. That was the reason for the joint meeting.

Presentation by DSI
Dr Phil Mjwara, Director-General (DG), DSI, said the DSI would brief the various committees on the STI White Paper and decadal plan, thematic STI priorities; governance arrangements to support STI across government; financial resources for STI in South Africa; and progress in the coordination of the STI public budget.

Context for the 2019 White Paper on STI
Many rapid technological changes on the global stage required new policy responses to deal with climate change and environmental degradation, geopolitical instabilities such as migration, and intractable inequality within and among countries. Locally, innovation was needed to deal with structural economic constraints, such as low economic growth, rising unemployment and inequality; poor education outcomes; and infrastructure backlogs.

STI was bound to disrupt a variety of existing socio-technical systems, as exemplified by artificial intelligence (AI), which was used in banking, transportation, education, politics, defence, healthcare, and communications, just to name a few. The White Paper was a high level, long term, policy document, while the decadal plan was a medium term (2021 to 2031) detailed document on what technology areas would be focused on. It stipulated the resources that would be required, and highlighted the risk indicators associated with those selected technologies.

Philosophy underlying the decadal plan
The 2019 White Paper had signalled a shift of focus from building the National System of Innovation (NSI) to deriving maximum impact from the NSI to help address South Africa’s challenges while investing in building the NSI. It aimed to support institutions and develop research capacity and high-end skills. The social sciences would be mainstreamed in all programmes and projects initiated to address the complexity of the challenges facing SA and the world. The decadal plan emphasised a deliberate focus on just health, education, and energy transitions. For example, the move to renewable energy also considered the energy needs of poor rural households and not only the needs of industry and middle-class consumers. 

STI programmes

STI programmes highlighted in the decadal plan were:
1) Innovation for a healthy population. This included physical and mental health, and would continue to build on existing successes while focusing on new issues such as pandemics, behavioural and societal aspects, and indigenous knowledge systems.

2) Innovation for energy security. This focused on bringing about a just transition to renewable energy to accommodate industry, middle-class, and poor communities.

3) Innovation for a capable and inclusive state. This would aid in achieving improved decision-making capabilities - for example, satellite data technology for improving service delivery and supporting local economic development.

Modernising existing industries
The decadal plan focused on growing South Africa by finding sources of new economic growth for a re-industrialised, modern economy. It also focused on modernising the existing industries such as agriculture, mining, and manufacturing. For example, digital technology and data analysis systems would offer tremendous benefits for the mining sector, particularly in optimising operations and reducing mining risks. The implementation of mining research, development and innovation (RDI) plans, centred on ICT-based innovation, was expected to improve the sector’s global competitiveness.
Hydrogen Economy
In partnership with Anglo-American, Bambili Energy and ENGIE, the DSI looked into opportunities to transform the Bushveld complex and larger region around Johannesburg, Mogalakwena and Durban into a “Hydrogen Valley”. The study aimed to identify concrete, catalytic project opportunities in promising hydrogen hubs to kick-start hydrogen activities in the region. Promising ongoing initiatives like the hydrogen corridor project were leveraged in selecting the hubs. The selection of the corridor from Durban to Mogalakwena was based on the potential to switch many industrial, mobility and building activities to hydrogen fuel or feedstock. A techno-economic analysis was carried out to assess the business cases of the identified projects, map their potential for positive social impact and define the necessary policy actions to create the conditions for implementation. Hydrogen demand in the valley could reach up to 185 kilotons by 2030, or 40 to 80 percent of demand in the National Hydrogen roadmap.

Innovation and skills compact
The Committees heard that the DSI had conducted a study in the technical vocational education and training (TVET) colleges. It aimed to determine the skills required to support a green hydrogen economy. It aimed to determine the role of the TVET college system in developing those skills to ensure that the transition to a green hydrogen economy incorporated a just labour transition. The study had indicated that the hydrogen economy would lead to the creation of approximately 60 000 TVET inclined jobs by the year 2045 and would have expanded the South African economy by R190 billion by then.

STI budget challenges
The DSI noted that the STI budget had been affected by inadequate support for research and development activities, mostly ad hoc ones, and the funding allocated for STI had frequently been moved to other priorities. Not all the science and technology-intensive national departments had allocated staff for planning and managing their STI work, which resulted in some departments not allocating adequate budgets for STI. Some departments had re-allocated STI budgets to other priorities later in the financial year. The public research organisations were increasingly under financial pressure to do “consulting” rather than investing sufficiently in basic research, infrastructure and human-centred design (HCD). That had been eroding the capacity of the NSI.

The Cabinet meeting of 15 February 2017 approved introducing a process to coordinate the government's budget for STI activities. The STI budget coordination process was a mechanism to improve allocation of funds for STI across all the spheres of government and has resulted in high level progress. The decadal plan’s STI priorities were included in the mandate paper for the 2023 Ministers' Committee on the Budget Technical Committee (MTEC). 

Ms N Tarabella Marchesi (DA) said the DSI had come up with genomic surveillance to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic, which had been important then. Given that the country had a problem with the production of fertilisers and would be facing a food crisis very soon, was the Department doing anything to circumvent the prices of fertilisers? Would the Department be working on local production of fertilisers, since the country was importing 80 percent of its fertilisers?

Dr S Thembekwayo (EFF), member of the Portfolio Committee on Health, asked why the PC Health had been invited to the joint meeting. What role was it supposed to play in the STI decadal plan? The presentation on innovation for a healthy population focused on pandemics and indigenous knowledge systems. The presenter spoke about taking the process to the ‘next level’; the question was what the present level was and the DSI’s contribution to the COVID-19 situation. What was the ‘next level’ that the presenter discussed on the COVID-19 situation?

Ms N Chirwa (EFF) asked when the pilot projects that had been presented for the mining sector would begin; that information was needed so that the projects could be monitored. What would be the impact of the country’s energy circumstances on hydrogen innovation? Was there an energy threat to seeing the innovation take place? What would be the health and environmental impact of the innovation on those working in the mining sector?

Mr I Groenewald (FF+), member of the Portfolio Committee on Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (PC COGTA), said the funding model presented had been a little bit over-ambitious in terms of local government. Many municipalities had budget constraints and would not be willing to fund the STI projects. How would the DSI’s funding model look in terms of local government? Would it be relevant for local government to contribute money as well? Were there other departments that were under utilised, that could be used to improve research on innovation?

Ms H Ismail (DA, PC Health) said there was a shortage of medical resources and a need for interventions through innovation. There was a need for clarity on what innovations DSI was working on as far as health was concerned. There was a need for enhancing medical training through science and innovation inside the country, because most of the country’s medical students were being trained by other countries. The country was essentially importing skills and expertise. On the presentation, she asked how sustainable the plans for innovation were. Would the country’s energy crisis and load shedding impact the innovations? Had the framework for the Innovation Compact finalised and what were the specific commitments and actions attached to the compact thus far? What progress had been made with restructuring the DSI’s programmes to realise the needs of the STI decadal plan.

Ms J Mananiso (ANC) asked if the DSI had any plans to ensure a sustainable budget for its plans. Referring to departments that had not attended the meetings of the DSI, she asked whether the DSI had made plans to bring them up to speed in terms of ensuring that they budgeted for science and innovation.
Dr K Jacobs (ANC, PC Health) said it was understood that the fourth industrial revolution was on the doorstep. The world has been changing rapidly in the past ten years. The presentation by the DSI was very informative and it was wonderful to see the work being done in planning for the next ten years. The decadal plan and the White Paper were commendable.

Ms S Graham (DA), member of the Portfolio Committee on Public Works and Infrastructure, said many schools in rural communities did not have subjects inclined to science and innovation. A study had indicated that many super intelligent learners in rural areas were underperforming because the subjects presented to them in class were boring to them. There was a need to feed the intelligence of those learners through subjects like maths and science. Those learners could have extra classes rendered to them through TVET colleges; there was a need to ensure that they were not lost from the system by under-education.

There was very little work being done in the Eastern Cape to improve science and technology. There was an entity called Agrement SA, which was part of the Department of Public Works and Infrastructure. The entity had a passion and drive to develop innovative building and construction methods, but it was not well marketed. Could the DSI possibly aid in innovative marketing initiatives in other departments as part of the STI programmes? 

Mr A Matumba (EFF, PC COGTA) said online-based companies made money in South Africa without paying taxes. There was a need to develop legislation to govern such companies. The DSI had presented future technologies, but the country currently did not have basic infrastructure, as exemplified by some regions in the country that had poor connectivity. The DSI was, in that sense, being ahead of itself. The country was currently relegating IT development to international companies, when it should have developed its own IT systems. If the country was cut-off tomorrow, could it operate without technologies from Google, Microsoft, and Apple etc? It could not be the case that government was dependent on international companies; the current meeting was being run on Zoom, a platform developed by an international company, which could cause a security threat to the country.

The DSI could talk of investments, but if there was no massive protected industrial development, the investments would not work. Twenty thousand jobs would be created and all of them would be lost within three days due to international companies getting into the space. For example, the Mara smartphone company was opened in Durban, but soon closed down as it could not compete with Xiaomi from China. The country could not protect its own jobs from Xiaomi. There was a strong need to protect the country’s IT industry in the same way that the former president of the USA did when he protected Apple from Huawei.

There was talk of the fourth industrial revolution (4IR) as though it was still to come. The reality was that 4IR was already happening. People were working for applications like Uber and Bolt. During the SASSA R350 relief grant applications, the SASSA website did not have the capacity to hold more than 5 000 people. That spoke to the poor technological infrastructure in the country. There was a strong need for the DSI to focus on developing basic technological infrastructure before talking about future technologies and innovations.

Ms M Hicklin (DA, PC Public Works) said Agrement SA had a mandate to certify, to international standards, innovative building technology that was produced in South Africa. The biggest problem was that there were no transverse links for marketing the remarkable green building technologies. There was a need to enhance the marketing of those technologies across South Africa because they would help reduce its carbon footprint and create thousands of jobs. Agrement SA had incredible products, yet the entity had remained the best secret in South Africa.

Ms V Siwela (ANC), Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Small Business Development, requested coordination on innovation budgets across all departments. She said rural areas had been affected by poor network connectivity. The DSI needed to ensure that the basic infrastructure was available to involve all the municipalities in its initiatives. 

Dr W Boshoff (FF+) said his town had had problems with its water system, with a pipe bursting after every repair. At the time, there was a big agricultural development with a much bigger pipeline being erected. This had not solved, but rather superseded, the previous problem. The previous problem was made irrelevant. The proposed hydrogen project would be the same story because it would eventually switch off the current coal-fired power stations. In the hydrogen roadmap in the slides, Anglo-American had been presented as a partner. Was Anglo-American going to invest in the technology because it was part of its contribution to the development of the technology or because the technology made direct financial sense?

Mr S Buthelezi (ANC), Chairperson of the Standing Committee on Appropriations (SCOA), said that money was an enabler, a means to an end, but not an end in itself. The DSI initiative was a good one that SCOA and the National Treasury would like to support because there would be no future without science and technology. The DSI had to consider involving the Department of Defence (DOD) in the initiative because most discoveries that ended up being used by civilians had originated from defence departments worldwide. Was the DSI involved in any initiatives with the DOD, without giving details of those initiatives? The DSI had to look into carbon capture technology, which had the potential to ensure the security of the country’s future electrical needs, since the coal-fired power stations were said to be the biggest emitters of greenhouse gases in the country. Carbon capture technology would ensure that the country could use coal in the future.

A rush to alternative energy sources could lead the country into a pit it might never be able to get out of. The departments should already have budgets for education and training, which indirectly include science and innovation. The departments had to start looking for funds to directly fund their science and innovation programmes.

It has been said that cannabis has many health benefits. That spoke to the health and the agriculture departments. Science and technology research also had to be directed to the cannabis industry because it was an area of growth and had the potential to jump-start rural economies. Had the DSI looked into that industry? If not, it was strongly recommended that it did. 

Mr F Xasa (ANC, PC COGTA) said sharing information between the Members of Parliament was very important, as was exemplified by the Inter-Ministerial Task Team after its first meeting. The Portfolio Committee on COGTA had once been presented with the idea of developing one budget per district municipality, which was thought to be impossible. However, from the joint meeting, COGTA had learnt that a single budget could be developed through cooperation and coordination. Corruption had resulted from different departments claiming their budget allocation as their own; in actuality, that was the budget of the people of South Africa.

Mr W Letsie (ANC) said there was a need to create some sort of management. For example, all committee chairpersons and the DSI’s Director-General would be to identify research and development (R&D) projects in the different portfolio committees and the respective departments to ring-fence money for R&D.

Many departments continued to use second industrial revolution (2IR) technologies, while some countries were talking about the fifth industrial revolution. The DSI had to assist the country in speeding up moving from 2IR to 4IR. As an example, clinics were still using manual registration processes. A patient’s medical file would remain in one specific clinic. If the patient fell ill while visiting another province, the file would not be available to the clinics in the province being visited. That was a 2IR system; a 4IR system would ensure that the patient’s medical file was electronically available to any clinic throughout the country. The DSI’s R&D department had to assist the Department of Health with that migration to 4IR.

Mr Z Burns-Ncamashe (ANC), a member of the Portfolio Committee on Trade, Industry and Competition, said South Africa had high level capabilities in science and innovation. The vaccines issue was a case in hand, demonstrating that Africa was an emerging force to be reckoned with. There was a need to welcome all the innovations focused on mitigating the effects of climate change. Attention needed to be given to protecting exclusive rights for innovative ideas. Most inventors and innovators were ordinary people with extraordinary capabilities who big corporations then exploited. An example is the case of Vodacom and the inventor of the ‘please call me’ application. The country’s policy had to be structured in a manner that would protect individuals from such exploitation.

The policy compendium also had to cover incubation programmes. Universities and TVET colleges contributed to strengthening the country’s human capital. The African continent had to maximise the extent of ‘syndication capabilities’. The lack of innovation and invention in most sectors led the country to export raw materials processed elsewhere and brought back to the country at a high value. South Africa and Africa needed internal programmes to produce and process raw materials. Exporting raw materials was, in effect, exporting jobs. There was a need also to consider the challenges of economic concentration. How were exclusionary institutionalised barriers, which continued to put people on the periphery, going to be broken? The policy compendium to be designed had to ensure deconcentration of the economy and access to all the people.

Mr H Kruger (DA, PC Small Business) said the Department of Small Business Development had always had a problem with policy relating to technology and innovation, because red tape provided a competitive advantage to big businesses. How could red tape be reduced to make it easier for small businesses to enter the space? Could the DSI indicate how small businesses would benefit from the decadal plan as presented?

Ms K Mahlatsi (ANC) asked whether the country had the necessary skills to ensure that the presented activities occurred over and above budget issues. Was there work being done to ensure that TVET colleges were incorporated in the development of skills for activities in the decadal plan? In the transition to new technologies, would the country be able to skill and re-skill the current workforce to ensure no jobs were lost?

What was the mood in other departments on the White Paper? Government alone would not be able to fund the proposed initiative; the private sector also had a role to play. Was there any positive reception of the initiatives from the private sector? It was understood that the DSI’s initiatives were meant to mitigate climate change. On the previous day, the House had approved an Ad Hoc Committee on Climate Change, which was a clear indication that Parliament saw the dangers of climate change and there was a need to ensure that the DSI’s White Paper saw the light of day.

The Chairperson said there was a need to address the responsiveness of rural schools. When the Portfolio Committee on Higher Education, Science and Innovation was doing oversight work in Sutherland, it advocated for young individuals from that area to be the ones who would work on the largest telescope in Southern Africa and the many telescopes that were about to be built. There was a need to ensure a succession plan that would ensure that South African citizens were involved in the technologies that were being built in their respective areas. There was a case in the Northern Cape where the DSI had invested in science labs for the local schools there, but the schools made no effort to make sure that the initial investment was protected and also added to. That was like pouring water into a leaking bucket.

The Committee was working to ensure that young people across all of South Africa were exposed to subjects, such as science and maths, that would enable them to study astronomy at university or TVET colleges, so that they too could take part in the ground-breaking technologies that South Africa was producing. It was important for the different committees to understand what the DSI and the Portfolio Committee on Higher Education, Science and Innovation were trying to achieve by calling the joint meeting.

Colleagues from the National Research Foundation (NRF) had articulated that astronomy could be used to alleviate issues of mental health that the country currently faced, and such information could be shared with the Department of Health in a joint meeting. When thinking about indigenous knowledge systems, the question was how the country would protect them. With the advent of COVID-19, there had been excessive use of uMhlonyane (African Wormwood), a plant that had been used by peoples’ grandfathers, and it had been packaged and taken to other parts of the world. There was a need to protect such knowledge.

On budget coordination, there was a need for an increased budget. There was a need to create confidence that there were allocations for science and technology in the various departments with the available budget. An analysis and an audit would be necessary to ensure that this was done. After finalising the decadal plan, another joint meeting might be necessary to discuss the commitments the various stakeholder departments would have had to make towards its finalisation. It was important for the DSI to indicate to the committees, any challenges that it might be facing in the finalisation of the decadal plan, so that those challenges could be dealt with early.

There had always been discussions on how the confidentiality of the committee meetings on online platforms could be maintained. That was why it was important for the Department of Communications to be present in such meetings to take the committees into confidence on how local technologies were being used to respond to the issue. There were young people out there who were developing those kinds of technologies. Why were those locally developed technologies not being used?

It was important for the committees to be breaking silos at the level of accountability and oversight, as that would also lead to the departments breaking their silos. That was the purpose of having a joint meeting.

Dr Mjwara said a lot of work had been done by the DSI that some committees might not have been aware of. The DSI thought that the system of innovation set up by the national government was ready to start solving the problems faced by society. The DSI was prepared to engage in follow up meetings with the committees and would arrange a meeting specifically with the Portfolio Committee on Small Business Development to discuss the opportunities for small businesses in the decadal plan.

The world was changing and there was a need to prepare for that. The hydrogen fuel initiative was a programme that the DSI had started between 1998 and 2000. About 20 years had been invested in building capabilities in that area, hence the bold hydrogen roadmap presented.

The fourth industrial revolution was already happening and the decadal plan had spoken to that. The National System of Innovation (NSI) had developed some solutions across various departments, but could not roll them out, hence the need for the Inter-Ministerial Committee (IMC). The DSI needed help from the IMC and the portfolio committees to ensure that the inter-governmental programmes were being taken forward. There was a need for ongoing engagements across departments and that was why a joint meeting had been called.

The DSI was doing work to get the ingredients for locally manufactured vaccine. That work required an interface between the DSI, the Department of Health, the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition and National Treasury. The country was already spending about R25 billion buying vaccines; a lot of money could be saved and more jobs could be created if the country could locally manufacture its own vaccines. That was one example that indicated how working together across a number of departments had started to create new value for South Africa. Another example would be the hydrogen project; if the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition was given a task to develop a commercialisation strategy for hydrogen, that strategy would have to be in line with the work of the DSI on hydrogen fuel. The two departments would have to work together.

On the issue of fertilisers, the DSI had not been working on developing fertilisers, but the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development was thinking about how fertilisers could be manufactured. When the project of producing hydrogen in Lephalale had been completed, the DSI could then start contributing to the manufacturing of fertilisers.

On the proposal to develop a roadmap for the decadal plan, the DSI was committed to developing that, but it was worth noting that the decadal plan had not yet been finalised. It was hoped that it could be finalised in the current financial year.

In response to the question about taking health innovation to the next level, Dr Mjwara said that during COVID-19, the DSI had been asked to develop ventilators. It was able to locally produce about 20 000 units that were very useful in a number of hospitals and saved lives. The next level would be producing the ventilators for the African continent and the world. The DSI had made a number of breakthroughs on pandemics through genomic surveillance and, together with the NRF, set up the Centre for Pandemics, which would focus on creating an understanding of pandemics that once existed and those that were still to come. That was what was meant by taking health innovation to the next level.

On the Innovation Compact, he said the purpose was to ensure agreement on the priorities, the processes needed to drive those priorities, and the funding. Innovation was an issue for the whole of society. 

On departments that had not attended previous meetings with the DSI, the DSI had not done a follow up with those departments but was continuously engaging with them through the ministerial clusters. The departments would be engaged in the next IMC and updated on where the DSI was.

On Mr Groenewald’s comment that it was ambitious for the DSI to think that the local governments would make money available, he said the DSI wanted to have an open discussion because sometimes the problems in the local governments could be solved through science and innovation. When those innovations solve problems, then the money issue could be addressed. 

On Agrement SA, the DSI already had an agreement with the Department of Human Settlements on innovative building technologies. 

The DSI had an agreement with the Department of Basic Education (DBE) to identify the challenges the DBE had at schools as far as science and innovation were concerned, understanding that there were issues that the DBE would have to address its own.

Regarding rural schools’ connectivity, the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) had a project to earmark ‘TV white spaces’ - the parts of the TV spectrum that were not being used -  for providing broadband to rural areas.

The DSI agreed with Mr Matumba that there was a need to focus on the problems of the future and address the problems of today. The DSI could share the work it had done in the ICT space with the committees, but the meeting time was not enough for that; information on the DSI’s ICT projects could be made available on request.

On why Anglo-American had decided to invest in some of the alternative energy technologies, he said South Africa had made commitments in Paris, to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and government had been consulting with the private sector on which initiatives could be embarked on collectively. As part of the nationally determined contributions, Anglo-American had an obligation to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The migration from diesel trucks at the Mogalakwena mines to hydrogen fuel cells was part of Anglo-American’s contribution. Anglo-American also saw other opportunities; the company mined platinum used in hydrogen fuel cells.   

The answer was yes on whether the DSI was working with the Department of Defence (DOD). For example, the DSI's work on building satellite capabilities was being done in an agreement with the DOD. There was other work between the DSI and the DOD in IT and security.

The DSI agreed that there was a need to develop carbon capture technology to ensure continued future use of coal-fired power stations.

Work was being done in support of the Cannabis Master. The DSI worked with the Department of Health and the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development.  

In moving elements of government from 2IR to 4IR, the DSI worked closely with the Department of Health at the national level. The data and information management system on peoples’ vaccination status at the CSIR involved work by the DSI and the Department of Health. The DSI was already doing work on developing the clinic of the future, which would be 4IR.

The DSI had three value-adding projects concerning the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement. It would be able to present that work to the Portfolio Committee on Trade, Industry and Competition in a session dedicated only to that. The DSI would also be happy to do a dedicated presentation to the Portfolio Committee on Small Business Development.

On how the local innovators could benefit from the DSI, the DSI had set up the Technology Acquisition Deployment Fund, a fund where young people were asked to demonstrate their technologies to one of the DSI’s agencies and, through the IMC, those technologies could be taken up by government.

The DSI was working with the Department of Higher Education and Training because if the decadal plan was to be a success, there would be a need to develop skill sets aligned to the decadal plan. The work the DSI had done on that would be shared with the Portfolio Committee on Higher Education, Science and Innovation. As an example of how the country’s current workforce would be affected by innovations and technologies of the future, the DSI had a project in conjunction with the CSIR to develop future mining technologies. Early in 2022, agreement was signed between the Minerals Council, all the mining sector unions, and the CSIR on the skills set needed to modernise the mines.

On the role of the private sector, the DSI saw a need to align research, development and innovation plans in the private sector with the master plan of the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition. The DSI hoped that the private sector would co-invest in research, development and innovation; some pilots indicated that sometimes "when government puts in R1, the private sector can put in R2”.

Mr Imraan Patel, Deputy Director-General, Socio-Economic Innovation Partnerships, DSI, spoke on long term investments. He said the DSI had a number of projects where it was using everything, from nuclear technology to basic sciences, to address the country's various challenges. It was important to continue investing in those projects and that was part of the challenges that the DSI faced. It was hoped that the initiative to engage with the various committees would help strengthen the support given to the DSI to continue with its projects.

Dr Rebecca Maserumule, Chief Director: Hydrogen and Energy, said that out of the 11 million jobs expected to be created by 2030, nine million were expected to come from SMMEs. In terms of partnerships, It was great that the DSI had initiated the joint meetings because if those jobs were to be created, they would have to be created through partnerships.

Concluding remarks
The Chairperson agreed with Dr Maserumule that it would be important to continue having the joint meetings going into the future so that the various committees and departments could teach and learn from one another. The Portfolio Committee on Higher Education, Science and Innovation had learned a lot from the various committees present in the meeting and was hoping to learn more in its joint meeting with the Department of Basic Education in the coming week. The Committee had to meet with the other portfolio committees it had not yet met. It had already been known that climate change was a problem worldwide, but what had happened in KwaZulu-Natal had been a harsh reminder that there was a need to respond to the issues around climate change and find mitigating strategies. Once the DSI’s decadal plan was finalised, it would be important to have a joint meeting.

The meeting was adjourned.

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