Department of Science and Innovation 2021/22 Annual Performance Plan; with Deputy Minister

NCOP Education and Technology, Sports, Arts and Culture

08 June 2022
Chairperson: Mr E Nchabeleng (ANC, Limpopo)
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Meeting Summary


Science and Innovation

On a virtual platform, the Department of Science and Innovation (DSI) briefed the Committee on the philosophy and key interventions of the Decadal Plan 2022. Its policy priorities include:

• Exploiting new sources of growth: circular economy, the digital economy.

• Modernising agriculture, mining and manufacturing.

• Large Innovation Programmes: health innovation; and energy innovation.

• Societal Grand Challenges (SGCs): climate change and environmental sustainability; future of education and work, and the future of society.

• Building a capable state.

The Annual Performance Plan initiatives and targeted interventions were outlined for its six outcomes. The budget for the DSI and its six entities and geographic footprint of its projects were noted plus the budget and output of infrastructure projects.

Committee Members acknowledged the DSI performance and ideas but requested more emphasis on developing women and ensuring internet connectivity in undeveloped areas. They asked if there was a programme to fund innovative young people and DSI explained its support of young innovators across the country with the help of its Grassroots Programme.

Meeting report

The Chairperson acknowledged the Deputy Minister's presence and said the Committee anticipated that the DSI Annual Performance Plan would contribute to the betterment of the Republic's economy.

Deputy Minister’s Overview
Deputy Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation, Mr Buti Manamela, apologised for the meeting cancellation two weeks ago. The Department of Science and Innovation (DSI) had a team of presenters who would be focusing on a range of issues. He reminded the Committee that to reach their end goals of using science, technology, and innovation to reconstruct and rebuild our country, they need a capable and responsive state. They have made good progress in implementing the plan and it would be evident in the presentation what the underlying philosophy and key focus areas were, including the national innovation system.

Department of Science and Innovation 2021/22 Annual Performance Plan
Dr Phil Mjwara, DSI Director-General, explained the vision of the White Paper is for Science, Technology, and Innovation to enable sustainable and inclusive development in a changing world. The Decadal Plan's philosophy is to deepen the knowledge economy for enhanced socio-economic impact.

The 2022 Decadal Plan has two mutually reinforcing aims:
• Pivoting the National System of Innovation (NSI) towards making an increased positive impact on SA’s socio-economic and environmental priorities.
• Maintaining equilibrium between a focus on impact (such as inclusive innovation) and continued investment and development of the NSI.

In the context of the Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan, DSI contributes toward revitalising sectors depressed by Covid-19 and supports developmental priorities such as energy and health.

New policy priorities of the Decadal Plan include:
• Exploiting new sources of growth: circular economy, the digital economy.
• Modernising agriculture, mining and manufacturing.
• Large Innovation Programmes: health innovation; and energy innovation.
• Societal Grand Challenges (SGCs): climate change and environmental sustainability; future of education and work, and the future of society.
• Building a capable state.

The Circular economy refers to sectors that impact climate change (mining, energy, agriculture, manufacturing, human settlements, water, mobility) and the innovation to mitigate this results in a circular economy.

To kick start the development of a hydrogen society in South Africa, catalytic projects such as Sustainable Aviation Fuels, Boegoebaai Special Economic Zone, Hydrogen Valley/Platinum Valley Initiative, and the CoalCO2-X Project have been identified. The key actions and milestones were outlined up to 2040.

DSI response to COVID-19 is to strengthen the country’s local research, development, and innovation capabilities to manufacture active pharmaceutical ingredients, vaccines, biopharmaceuticals, diagnosis, and medical devices to address the disease burden while ensuring security of supply of essential therapeutics and prophylactics. They have identified that South Africa can build innovation capacity and pipeline of homegrown vaccines.

They have partnered with African Medicine Practitioners and universities like University of Free State, University of Pretoria, and University of KwaZulu-Natal to research and develop homegrown medicine/vaccines. The active contributions to date include weekly data analytics, forecasting, projections, global trends on vaccination, social media trend analysis, and active data collection.

The challenge that they have met is that they do not have enough women researchers and young black Africans as a part of the research team, but they will continue to support PhD and Masters degree graduates and source artisans and technicians to work with them in the new programmes.

The revised DSI 2020-2025 strategic plan maintained the six outcomes, however, amendments were effected to the 22 outcome indicators, which were reduced to 19 against the Department’s medium-term performance.

DSI performance outcomes included:
• Implementing Outcome 1: transformed, inclusive, responsive, and coherent NSI
Finalise transformation framework to expand transformation agenda in all focus areas through ten key transformation dimensions and support grassroots innovators in the economy via targeted research development and innovation (RDI) instruments.
• Implementing Outcome 2: human capabilities and skills for the economy and development
Support more than 8782 Honours, Masters and PhD students across programmes by March 2022 and mainstream themes in research grants covering all knowledge fields.
• Implementing Outcome 3: increased knowledge generation and innovation output
Increase South Africa’s research outputs/productivity and its world share of publications towards the 1% global output and have interventions to improve the publishing rate of academics at HDIs to increase research outputs per capita.
• Implementing Outcome 4: knowledge utilisation for economic development
Participate in developing sectoral master plans, i.e. agriculture, the oceans economy, energy, mining and health.
• Implementing Outcome 5: knowledge utilisation for inclusive development
Facilitate commercialisation of grassroots innovation and access to publicly available IP in line with the commitment to deploy locally developed technology solutions, using instruments such as technology demonstration, agprocessing facilities and support for entrepreneurs.
• Implementing Outcome 6: innovation in support of a capable and developmental state
Locally developed technology deployment supports innovation in implementing state policies such as Basic Education, e-Health, and infrastructure project scoping.

The DSI projects have a geographic footprint across all the nine provinces but strive to improve numbers in Mpumalanga, Free State and the Northern Cape.

Mr Robert Shaku, DSI Acting Chief Financial Officer, noted the MTEF allocations per programme totalled R9 133 300 000 for 2022/23, R9 244 581 000 for 2023/24 and R9 659 756 000 for 2024/25. The 2022/23 budget analysis per programme showed that 55% of funds went to Research Cooperation and Resources, 20% on Technology Innovation, 19% on Socio-Economic Innovation Partnerships, 4% on Administration and 2% on International Cooperation and Resources. Also noted was the budget allocation for the DSI six entities and its three infrastructure projects.

Dr Mjwara spoke to the other MTSF aspects of relevance to DSI: Women, Youth and People with Disability; Capable, Ethical and Developmental State; Increase the contributions of the digital economy to GDP through 4IR; Education, Skills and Health; Consolidating the social wage through reliable and quality basic services; Special integration, human settlements, and local government.

The Chairperson said that it was not clear if there was going to be a permanent CEO approved by Cabinet and the President and when this appointment would happen.

Ms D Christians (DA, Northern Cape) asked if there were plans for or research on alternative energy sources since our country is in crisis, especially with electricity. What plans did DSI have for internet connectivity, especially in rural and underdeveloped areas? She asked about the progress in the PhD programme created specifically to fund women.

Ms N Ndongeni (ANC, Eastern Cape) asked how DSI will ensure that the STI plans are implemented and coordinated within the stated timeline. What factors informed the removal of three outcome indicators in the Strategic Plan and was funding available to continue with this programme? She asked what timeframe and progress can be reported on the DSI Transformation Framework.

Ms S Luthuli (EFF, KZN) asked DSI to create a programme to fund innovative young people showcasing their talents on social media, especially those in rural areas.

DSI response
Mr Imraan Patel, DDG: Socio-Economic Innovation Partnerships, addressed the request for a programme to fund young innovators saying that they have several programmes focusing on that but the most outstanding one is the Grassroots Programme. There is an application process where young people submit their innovations and DSI chooses the most innovative submissions. So far, they have funded over 115 people and co-founded them with other departments.

On the Transformation Framework, there is a consensus between DSI and its entities to have ongoing transformation as it is a programme that takes time, but he assured the Committee that it had been a success since its start and they gather information to record the progress yearly.

The Women in PhD programme exists through the other funding programmes they have where they set a target designed to fund only women. The exact number of women funded and who graduated will be sent o the Committee.

Connectivity in the rural areas is the responsibility of the Department of Communications and Digital Technologies (DCDT) and there is a programme they have called SA Connect that is responsible for connecting such areas. He acknowledged that there is a challenge with this and DSI will use its partnership with the DCDT to ensure connectivity.

Ms Gugulethu Zwane, DDG: Institutional Planning and Support, replied about the reduced outcome indicators from 22 to 19 and explained that there were some duplicated reports in some districts so they managed the problem by consolidating all the reports without any loss of information.

Dr Mmboneni Muofhe, DDG: Technology Innovation, replied about the Grassroot Innovations Programme. They ensure that they identify Innovation Champions in municipalities, take the valuable innovations to the district level, and fund the innovator. They had a recent achievement in collaboration with a district in Limpopo where they launched innovation from a small community and partnered with traditional leaders.

Dr Rebecca Maserumule, DDG: Technology Innovation, said they fund programmes that focus on having other sources of energy, such as the Hydrogen Programme, which uses hydrogen to make electricity and the Solar Programme which focuses on the sun for energy. An Energy Storage programme also focuses on making batteries to store energy. She also referenced the Carbon Capture Programme. Every province, except the Free State, has pilots who are in partnership with some companies to create energy.

Dr Mjwara assured the Committee that they would get back to them with the Women in PhD programme report.

The Chairperson asked if there were any follow-up questions but there were none.

The Deputy Minister thanked his team for its exceptional work and the Committee for the good reception.

The Committee adopted minutes of 25 and 31 May meetings and the meeting was adjourned.


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