ATC200604: Report of the Portfolio Committee on Higher Education, Science and Technology on Budget Vote 35: Science and Innovation (2020/21), dated2 June 2020.

Higher Education, Science and Technology

Report of the Portfolio Committee on Higher Education, Science and Technology on Budget Vote 35: Science and Innovation (2020/21), dated2 June 2020.

 

The Portfolio Committee on Higher Education, Science and Technology, having considered Budget Vote 35: Science and Innovation, the 2020-2025 Strategic Plan and the 2020/21 Annual Performance Plan (APP) of the Department of Science and Innovation, reports as follows:

 

  1. Introduction

 

The Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996 and the Rules of Parliament mandates the Portfolio Committee on Higher Education, Science and Technology (hereafter, the Committee) to oversee the activities and performance of the Department of Science and Innovation(hereafter, the Department) and the entities that report to it. Hence, the Committee annually reviews whether the Department and entities’ performance plans are aligned to national strategic objectives and the appropriated budget.

 

The Department briefed the Committee on 15 May 2020 and the National Research Foundation (NRF), South African National Space Agency (SANSA), Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf) and the Technology Innovation Agency(TIA) briefed the Committee on 19 May 2020, providing an overview of the strategic context within which they function, discussed priority performance indicators and their concomitant targets and the 2020/21 budget allocations.

 

  1. Strategic Overview of the Department of Science and Technology

 

  1. Policy mandate: White Paper on Science, Technology and Innovation

 

Succeeding the 1996 White Paper on Science and Technology, the 2019 White Paper on Science, Technology and Innovation, which seeks to specifically enhance the role of innovation, now sets the current long-term policy direction for the National System of Innovation(NSI) and seeks to ensure an increasing role for science, technology and innovation (STI) to accelerate inclusive economic growth, increase the competitiveness of the economy, and improve the livelihoods of South Africa’s citizens.

 

The 2019 White Paper hinges on three high-level goals; namely to, take advantage of opportunities presented by megatrends and technological change;expand policy approaches that have worked and propose new approaches, where necessary; andpromote a more inclusive economy at all levels. These goals are underpinned by the following objectives:

 

  • Adopt a whole-of-government/society approach to innovation;
  • Instil a culture of valuing STI, and integrate STI into government planning and budgeting at the highest levels;
  • Create an enabling and inclusive governance environment;
  • Create a more innovation-enabling environment;
  • Increase and transform NSI human capabilities;
  • Expand and transform the research system;
  • Expand and transform the institutional landscape; and
  • Increase funding and funding efficiencies.

 

A new Decadal Plan for STI will serve as the implementation plan for the 2019 White Paper. This Decadal Plan will take into consideration not only the policy intents of the 2019 White Paper, but also the reviews of the Ten-Year Innovation Plan (2008–2018) and 2002 National Research and Development Strategy, the 2019 National Advisory Council on Innovation’s (NACI) South Africa Foresight Exercise for Science, Technology and Innovation 2030 report, and the priority outcomes of government. It is envisaged that this Plan will be finalised within the 2020/21 financial year.

 

  1. Policy context: National Develop Plan and the Medium Term Strategic Framework

 

The National Development Plan (NDP)characterises STI as crucial for development since countries that have effectively alleviated poverty by growing their economies, have done so by investing in and developing strong STI environments and capabilities. Hence, the NDP states that South Africa’s NSI needs to be expanded as well as be more effective and, therefore, be aligned with the sectors that will realise the country’s growth objectives. This requires that:

 

  • South Africa invests more in research and development (R&D). The target was 1.5% of GDP invested in R&D by 2019;
  • The STI institutional arrangement improves the link between innovation and the productive needs of industry;
  • Government should collaborate with the private sector to raise the level of R&D in companies; and
  • Public investments in research infrastructure should be focussed on and fulfil the needs of a modern economy.

 

The 2014-2019 Medium Term Strategic Framework (MTSF)served as the first phase of implementation of the NDP and committed Government to 14 key outcomes. The Department contributed to Outcome 2: A long and healthy life for all South Africans; Outcome 3: All South Africans are safe and feel safe; Outcome 4: Decent employment through inclusive economic growth; Outcome 5: A skilled and capable workforce to support an inclusive growth path; Outcome 6: An efficient, competitive and responsive economic infrastructure network; Outcome 7: Vibrant, equitable and sustainable rural communities and food security for all; and Outcome 10: Protect and enhance South Africa’s environmental assets and natural resources.

 

Achievement against these Outcomes is mixed and true transformation of the economy, the environment and society continues to elude South Africa, who still faces the challenges of poverty, inequality and unemployment. The 2019-2024 MTSF, representing the second five-year phase of implementation for the NDP, aims to address these challenges through three pillars; namely, achieving a more capable state; driving a strong and inclusive economy; and building and strengthening the capabilities of South Africans. These three pillars underpin the seven priorities of the 2019-2024 MTSF, which are translated through 81 outcomes, 337 interventions and 561 performance indicators. The seven priorities, and the outcomes and interventions where the Department and its entities have a role to fulfil, and are explicitly listed in the MTSF, are:

 

Priority 2: Economic transformation and job creation

The Department is responsible for two of the three interventions in the following outcome:

  • Outcome: Improve competitiveness through Information and Communication Technology (ICT) adoption;
  1. Intervention: increase investment in gross expenditure on research and development to 1.1% of GDP by 2024. This intervention will require the allocation of additional funding.
  2. Intervention: increase commercialisation of public sector-funded intellectual property (IP), i.e. disclosures which are licensed annually, from 15 to 35 by 2024. This intervention is to be funded within the existing Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) baseline.

 

The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) is listed as a contributing organisation in the following outcome and intervention:

  • Outcome: Investing in accelerated inclusive growth;
  1. Intervention: ensure the macroeconomic policy alignment and coherence. This intervention is to be funded within the existing MTEF baseline.

 

Priority 3: Education, skills and health

The Department and the NRF are contributors to the following outcomes and interventions that are led by the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET):

  • Outcome: Expanded access to post school education and training (PSET) opportunities;
  1. Intervention: Implement enrolment plans for universities, technical and vocational education and training (TVET), and community education and training (CET) colleges (2020-2024).
  2. Intervention: Establish centres of specialisation to support students with disabilities in TVET colleges.
  3. Intervention: Develop a sustainable CET funding model.
  4. Intervention: Sector Education and Training Authorities (SETAs) must identify an increasing number of workplace based opportunities and make information about work-based learning known to public.
  5. Intervention: Ensure eligible students receive funding through National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) bursaries (through guidelines, policy and legislative review, effective oversight of NSFAS by DHET, and improved management). Specific to the Department and the NRF, this intervention seeks to increase the number of doctoral students awarded bursaries from 3 380 to not less than 12 200 (cumulatively) by 2024; and increase the number of pipeline postgraduate (honours and masters) students awarded bursaries from 9 774 to not less than 24 400 (cumulatively) by 2024.

 

  • Outcome: Improved success and efficiency of the PSET system;
  1. Intervention: Implement capacity building programmes and interventions at universities.

 

  • Outcome: Improved quality of PSET provisioning;
  1. Intervention: Implement the New Generation of Academics Programme (nGAP). Specific to the Department, is the intention to increase the number of emerging researcher grants from 800 to 3 000 by 2024 to improve the percentage of PhD-qualified staff.

 

  • Outcome: A responsive PSET system (the Department is responsible for leading the following intervention):
  1. Intervention: Conduct IP awareness sessions (IP Wise) at TVET colleges (at least two per annum). TIA is a listed contributor to this intervention. In addition, a new performance indicator, is to reach 120 000 people/year through outreach, awareness and training programmes in Space Science.

 

Priority 5: Spatial integration, human settlements and local government

The Department is a contributor to the following outcome and interventions that are led by the Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries:

  • Outcome: Just transition to a low-carbon economy;
  1. Intervention: Four transition plans for high carbon emitting sectors developed by 2024. These sectors are energy, transport, agriculture and waste. The CSIR is also listed as a contributor to the development of these plans.
  2. Intervention: Implementation of five sector plans to reduce vulnerability to risks associated with climate change.

 

The CSIR and SANSA are listed as contributors to the following interventions. These outcomes are led by the Department of Human Settlement, Water and Sanitation:

  • Outcome: Spatial transformation through multi-programme integration in priority development areas;
  1. Intervention: Complete an integrated, spatially referenced implementation programme for the 94 priority development areas by 2024.

 

  • Outcome: Adequate housing and improved living environments;
  1. Intervention: Upgrade / formalise 1 500 informal settlements, which will be spatially referenced and mapped, to Phase 3 of the Informal Settlements Upgrading Programme, by 2024.

 

The CSIR is listed as a contributor to the following interventions that are led by the Departments of Human Settlement, Water and Sanitation, and Co-operative Governance, respectively:

  • Outcome: Improve access to basic services;
  1. Intervention: Review current water legislation to amend the existing regulatory framework for water ownership and governance (water rights, allocation and use) by 2024.
  2. Intervention: Develop alternative water source strategy by 2021 and implement 52 alternative water source projects by 2024.

 

Priority 6: Social cohesion and safe communities

The CSIR is listed as a contributor to the following interventions that are led by the State Security Agency and the South African Police Service, respectively:

  • Outcome: A well-defended and secured cyberspace;
  1. Intervention: Build capacity, training and development in fighting cybercrime and promoting cybersecurity by finalising and then implementing the National Cybersecurity R&D Strategy.
  2. Intervention: Successfully investigate 65% of cybercrime case files. Parliament and its Committees are also listed as contributors to this intervention.

 

The Department and its entities are not explicitly listed as contributors to any of the interventions for Priorities 1, 4 and 7,which respectively are; a capable, ethical and developmental state; consolidating the social wage through reliable and quality basic services; and a better Africa and world. However, the Department and its entities, through their programmes and interventions, will contribute to realising the objectives for these priorities.

 

  1. 2020-2025 Strategic Plan for the Department of Science and Innovation

 

During 2015-2020, to position STI within the framework of the NDP, the Department directed its efforts and resources toward five strategic outcome-orientated goals. These goals overlapped with some of the initiatives for which the Department was responsible or contributed to in the 2014-2019 MTSF and directly supported the aims of the Nine-Point Plan, adopted in 2015 to accelerate the growth of the economy and create much-needed jobs through the diversification and enhancement of economic competitiveness. The Department’s five strategic outcome-oriented goals for 2015-2020 were:

 

Goal 1: Responsive, co-ordinated and efficient NSI – build on previous gains to create a responsive, coordinated and efficient NSI.

Goal 2: Increased knowledge generation – maintain and increase the relative contribution of South African researchers to global scientific output.

Goal 3: Human capital development – increase the number of high-level graduates and improve their representivity.

Goal 4: Using knowledge for economic development – derive a greater share of economic growth from R&D-based opportunities and partnerships.

Goal 5: Knowledge utilisation for inclusive development – accelerate inclusive development through scientific knowledge, evidence and appropriate technology.

 

For the period 2014/15 to 2018/19, the Department achieved an average performance of 86% against the targets set for these strategic goals, spent 99% of its budget, and obtained clean audits in the 2014/15, 2017/18 and 2018/19 financial years.

 

Moving on to the current period; the 2019 White Paper and the Department’s name change in 2019 from science and technology to science and innovation, signifies an expanded mandate and leadership role for the Department in advancing overall government policy on innovation. Furthermore, the merger of the Science and Technology and Higher Education and Training Ministries, while the two departments remain separate, provides these two departments with the opportunity to assess how they can enhance and best implement matching functions.

 

The Department, building on the successes of the previous period and to ensure that the NSI expands its positive impact on reducing poverty, inequality and unemployment as envisioned by the 2019 White Paper, has identified the following six outcomes for the period 2020-2025:

 

Outcome 1: A transformed, inclusive, responsive and coherent NSI

Outcome 1 seeks to improve the contribution of the NSI to achieving the goals of the NDP. The key driver of these contributions will be the Decadal Plan, which will define the critical missions that South Africa will pursue during the period 2020-2030. The four outcome indicators against which performance will be measured are:

 

i)        Percentage increase in the number of formalised partnerships between different category actors of the NSI that advance Decadal Plan priorities;

ii)       Number of STI missions introduced and adopted by Cabinet that crowd in resources and capabilities across the NSI;

iii)      Percentage increase in the investment support by government that advances gross expenditure on R&D (GERD) towards 1.1% of GDP (revised down from former target of 1,5%); and

iv)      Number of approved strategies that give effect to the agreed dimensions of transformation to be effected in the NSI.

 

A key action to be finalised in 2020 that will guide the establishment, geospatial location, institutional form and dispersion of new NSI institutions is the Higher Education, Science, Technology and Innovation Institutional Landscape (HESTIIL) review. These institutions are expected to advance the implementation of critical science missions and research areas such as astronomy. Additional actions to ensure the success of this outcome include developing R&D-led industries based on new sources of growth such as the Fourth Industrial Revolution and the Circular Economy; directing more effort to formalising partnerships with non-traditional NSI stakeholders such as non-governmental organisations and youth and civil society organisations; and providing targeted developmental support and funding to those aspects of the NSI that are performing sub-optimally or are underrepresented and underserved so that they can improve their contribution to the research and knowledge enterprise. The Department will also ensure a far greater role for South Africa in international innovation partnerships using the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as a guiding multilateral policy framework; continue to implement the African Union’s (AU) Science, Technology and Innovation Strategy for Africa (STISA); and pursue initiatives supporting Agenda 2063 and the Southern African Development Community’s (SADC) Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan. Bilateral co-operation with African partners will also be prioritised.

 

Outcome 2: Human capabilities and skills for the economy and for development

Outcome 2 seeks to further address the lack of transformation within the NSI. Hence, the Department will continue as well as expand the transformation agenda in all its science focus areas. The Department’s agenda targets four levels of transformation; namely, spatial, institutional, demographic and transdisciplinary transformation. The five outcome indicators against which performance will be measured are:

 

i)        Number of Department-funded PhDs graduating annually as a contribution to the NDP target of 100 PhDs per million population by 2030;

ii)       Number of artisans and technicians absorbed into the economy in sectors where DSI has active programmes;

iii)      Percentage increase of women and black researchers in South Africa’s Research workforce;

iv)      Percentage increase of PhD-qualified teaching and research staff; and

v)       Improved knowledge about science among the general public.

 

In addition to existing actions, the Department will extend its collaboration with the Department of Basic Education to ensure that initiatives that encourage learners to participate in science, technology, engineering, mathematics and innovation (STEMI) subjects are implemented in all nine provinces (currently in seven provinces). Postgraduate funding will continue to be a priority and this funding policy will be structured around the full cost of support for financially needy students. However, should the postgraduate funding budget not grow, this would mean that less postgraduate students will be supported. Funding for engineering postgraduate studies will also be a specific focus, as well as support for the development of technical and artisan skills to support the deployment of newly developed innovations. In addition, to assess how South African’s relate to STI, a dedicated survey will be conducted by the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) by 2023/24 and the report published by 2025/26.

 

Outcome 3: Increase knowledge generation and innovation output

Outcome 3 seeks to increase South Africa’s research productivity, currently 0.88% of global share, to 1% of global output. The three outcome indicators against which performance will be measured are:

 

i)        Increase South Africa’s share of global publication outputs;

ii)       Percentage increase in prototypes, technology demonstrators, pilot plants that advance industrialisation through innovation; and

iii)      Percentage increase in patent and design applications filed from publicly financed R&D.

 

Key actions to increase research productivity will be to fast-track interventions aimed at PhD qualification attainment and implementing mandate-aligned programmes for historically disadvantaged institutions (HDIs) and universities of technology. The Department and the DHET will review the Research Outputs Policy to determine whether science councils can also benefit from this incentive programme, and through the HDI Development Grant, will develop programmes aimed at ensuring that there is a critical mass of publishing academics at HDIs. The Department will also focus on investments that support the translation of publicly financed IP into social and economic value. In terms of infrastructure, all 13 research infrastructures in phase one of the South African Research Infrastructure Roadmap (SARIR) will be implemented, and it is estimated that the planned increase of theSouth African National Research Network’s (SANReN) total available broadband capacity to 7 100 Gbps by 2024/25 will provide broadband connectivity access to more than a million users. The establishment of a system for the recognition of prior learning in indigenous knowledge (IK) disciplines, as prescribed by the Protection, Promotion, Development and Management of IK Act, also represents a non-traditional way of developing human capabilities. Furthermore, the Department intends to develop a policy framework for the development of an IK-based pharmaceutical industry and bioinnovation institute.

 

Outcome 4: Knowledge utilisation for economic development in (a) revitalising existing industries and (b) stimulating R&D-led industrial development

Outcome 4 seeks to drive economic development through various initiatives associated with the sectoral masterplans and revitalised industrial strategy. The four outcome indicators against which performance will be measured are:

 

i)        Rand value of research, development and innovation (RDI) investment attracted to support RDI needs identified through the sectoral masterplans process;

ii)       Percentage increase in Small, Medium and Micros Enterprises (SMMEs) or Co-operatives whose performance has improved or who have secured new opportunities through support provided by the Department and its entities;

iii)      Percentage increase in the commercialisation of granted IP rights from publicly-funded R&D; and

iv)      Number of new R&D-led industrial development opportunities initiated by the Department.

 

Key actions for the Department include participating in the development of sectoral masterplans and implementing flagship programmes in support of priority sectors identified in the national revitalised industrial strategy. Examples of the latter include the continued deployment of hydrogen fuel cells in government buildings, critical infrastructure, as well as in rural formal and urban informal settlements to assess whether this alternative technology can ensure energy security and speed up the rate of electrification. Other examples include the Carbon Capture, Storage and Use Flagship Programme, the Energy Storage RDI Programme, the Indigenous Knowledge-based Technology Innovation initiatives, and the Medical Cannabis RDI Programme. Furthermore, increased attention will be given to building and supporting a pipeline for the development and commercialisation of outputs from publicly-funded R&D, as well as to an enforcement fund to enable publicly-funded institutions to prevent third-party infringement of their IP rights. The Department also aims to expand its network of Technology Stations and Platforms to support SMMEs and Co-operatives.

 

Outcome 5: Knowledge utilisation for inclusive development

Outcome 5 seeks to advance the vision of an inclusive and responsive NSI that provides equitable access to the country’s knowledge infrastructure, and supports the broader concept of innovation. The two outcome indicators against which performance will be measured are:

 

i)        Grassroots innovations whose commercialisation has been facilitated by the support / access of the multi-tiered support package provided by the Department and its entities; and

ii)       Publicly-funded IP made available (accessible) in support of grassroots innovators.

 

The key features of the multi-tiered support package for the commercialisation of grassroots innovations will include technology development, compliance with industry standards, protection of IP and mentorship. The Department, to enhance the use of publicly-funded IP and ensure the deployment of locally developed technology solutions, will facilitate access to this IP that specifically relates to solutions that enable access to basic services, strengthens the state’s capacity to provide services and promotes the inclusion of women, youth and people living with disabilities.

 

Outcome 6: Innovation in support of a capable and development state

Deploying national STI interventions is a challenge because the Department does not have a concurrent function within provincial and local government. However, the Department contributes to the development of an innovation ecosystem and a capable and developmental state via its Regional Innovation Support programmes. Outcome 6 seeks to increase the spatial footprint of innovation support so that innovation will enable localised socio-economic development. The four outcome indicators against which performance will be measured are:

 

i)        Increase in the number of use cases of decision support systems;

ii)       Number of demonstrators that have successfully introduced a new way of delivering a service;

iii)      Number of districts / metros supported with technology-based applications as part of the District Development Model for Service Delivery Improvement; and

iv)      Evidence informed integration of innovation in service delivery.

 

Key actions will be to ensure the piloting of appropriate technologies that facilitate service delivery, for example, technologies for waste management, water and wastewater management, housing, sanitation, and energy provision, as well as technologies for the circular economy to ensure a just transition to a low carbon economy in line with climate change and sustainable development obligations. The Department states that to build a coherent system to address both climate change and sustainable development, a digital economy is required. Therefore, the Department will focus on programmes that enable innovation and build capacity in the PSET system in ICT domains such as data science, artificial intelligence (AI), the Internet of Things (IoT) and cybersecurity. Furthermore, the capacity to optimally use 5G and other wireless technologies must also be developed so that the state and citizens can take advantage of the opportunities within a digital economy.

 

These outcomes are similar to the previous five strategic outcome-oriented goals, except that innovation in support of a developmental state has now been included as a separate outcome (outcome 6) where before it was all contained within Goal 5. In addition, in line with the Department’s name change and expanded mandate, the outcomes and performance measures endeavour to ensure the centrality of innovation to the transformation and growth of South Africa’s economy and the lives of its citizens, and new performance indicators speak directly to this. Furthermore, skills development targets will seek to build on the transformation gains made to date, but will also focus more closely on the needs of industry. Hence, Outcomes 1, 3 and 4 align to Pillar 1 of the 2019-2024 MTSF; namely, driving a strong and inclusive economy. Outcome 2 aligns to Pillar 2; building and strengthening the capabilities of South Africans; and Outcomes 5 and 6 align to Pillar 3; achieving a more capable state. The Department has also adjusted its Mission to now explicitly indicate that the leadership, enabling environment and resources it provides for STI should not merely support South Africa’s “development”, but that this development must be“inclusive and sustainable” if the country is to transform its socio-economic trajectory.

 

  1. Vote 35: Science and Innovation (2020/21)

 

The key focus of the 2020 State of the Nation Address (SONA) was inclusive growth, which relies on implementing the critical actions needed to build a capable state, and place the economy on a path to recovery. The importance of STI in realising these objectives has been illustrated in the NDP, the 2019-2024 MTSF and the Department’s 2020-2025 Strategic Plan. Examples of specific actions outlined by President Ramaphosa in the 2020 SONA where STI is crucial to achieving the objectives set for these initiatives include:

 

  • Energy security – enabling the development of additional generation capacity from renewable energy, natural gas, hydro power, battery storage and coal.
  • Climate change – enhancing adaptive capacity, strengthening resilience and reducing vulnerability to climate change and identifying new industrial opportunities in the green economy.
  • Investing in skills and infrastructure – establishment of a new University of Science and Innovation in Ekurhuleni that will be focussed on high-impact and cutting-edge technological innovation for current and future industries. The development of a smart city in Lanseria.
  • Digital economy – within the era of rapid technological advancement, the digital economy will increasingly drive growth and employment.
  • Growing key industries – for example, agriculture, where R&D has ensured that the sector can adapt to and mitigate the effects of environmental degradation and climate change.
  • Harnessing Data Science – development of the Health Patient Registration System (with the CSIR) to ensure effective implementation of the National Health Insurance.

 

The 2020 Budget, tabled amid a weakened economic outlook, increasing unemployment and the threat of COVID-19, is framed, among others, around a R63.3 billion downward revision of tax revenue; rising debt; and total expenditure reductions of R261 billion over three years of which R160 billion pertains to reductions in the public service wage bill. The consolidated 2020/21 government expenditure amounts to R1.95 trillion, with most of the spending focussed on learning and culture (R396.4 billion), social development (R309.5 billion) and health (R229.7 billion). Funding for new and urgent priorities will be provided for by reprioritising existing baselines.

 

The 2020/21 consolidated government expenditure for innovation, science and technology is R16.4 billion (R15.7 billion in 2019/20, revised estimate), which represents 1% of the total MTEF and 7.8% of the consolidated economic development expenditure of R211.5 billion. Within the 2020/21 consolidated expenditure for innovation, science and technology, R1.4 billion has been specifically set aside to support the commercialisation of technological innovation and upgrade infrastructure to strengthen the research and innovation capabilities of the CSIR and SANSA. Furthermore, within the existing pipeline of major infrastructure projects that are under development but have not yet been approved for funding, is the construction of the NRF’s South African Isotope Facility, projected to cost R1.4 billion.

 

The Department states in its 2020-2025 Strategic Plan that, “the current budget allocation to various Programmes is based on a historic and incremental budgeting method. However, with priorities having changed due to the policy shift (new political administration and the new White Paper), this allocation method will change.” Hence, “the Department will undertake a budget restructuring exercise within the MTEF allocated funds (and extrapolate to the two outer years) to ensure realignment with new priorities during the planning cycle. Guided by the Decadal Plan approach of sectoral planning, a sectoral-based budgeting approach will be adopted. The Department will be required to review and assess the efficiency, effectiveness and relevance of its investments. After the current planning cycle, funds will be reallocated to higher priority areas in the next MTEF. Existing initiatives or programmes that have a minimum impact and/or are no longer relevant will have to be scaled down or discontinued.”

 

Over the medium-term, the Department is allocated R27.9 billion, where overall expenditure is expected to increase at an average annual rate of 5.8%, from R8.1 billion in 2019/20 to approximately R9.7 billion in 2022/23. This allocation will primarily be directed toward human capital development, generating and exploiting knowledge and innovation, and building and maintaining infrastructure for research and innovation. However, over the medium-term, Cabinet has approved reductions of R460.9 million to the Department’s baseline allocation to be effected mainly on discretionary transfers and non‐core goods and services. Since the work of fostering, promoting and supporting innovation in scientific research and technology is conducted largely by the Department’s entities, universities and non‐profit organisations, Transfers and subsidies account for an estimated 93% (R25.9 billion) of the Department’s total budget over the MTEF period. Compensation of employees is the second‐largest spending item in the Department, accounting for an estimated 4.8% (R1.3 billion) of the total expenditure over the medium-term, increasing at an average annual rate of 6.4% mainly due to the expected filling of critical posts. As at 31 January 2020, the Department had an overall vacancy rate of 23%, with 20% of Senior Management level posts being vacant.

 

Over the medium-term, an additional R1.2 billion is allocated to set up the Sovereign Innovation Fund to ensure more effective technology commercialisation; R185 million is allocated to the CSIR to invest in infrastructure aimed at improving the efficiency and competitiveness of scientific research; and R100 million is allocated to SANSA to invest in its space science programme.

 

The Department’s 2020/21 budget allocation increases from R8.1 billion in the 2019/20 financial year to R8.8 billion (Table 1). This represents, when adjusted for inflation, a real increase of 3.1%; and is the first real increase in the Department’s budget allocation since the 2015/16 financial year. In terms of economic classification, the apportionment of the Department’s 2020/21 budget allocation of R8.8 billion remains the same as in previous years and comprises Current payments of R632.5 million (7.2%), Transfers and subsidies of R8.2 billion (92.8%) and Payments for capital assets of R2.8 million (0.03%).

 

Table 1: Budget summary of the Department of Science and Innovation

Programme

2019/20

Adjusted appropriation

(R’ million)

2020/21

Expenditure estimate

(R’ million)

Percentage of total budget

Nominal percentage change in 2020/21

Real percentage change in 2020/21 (inflation-adjusted)

1. Administration

391.3

360.3

4.1

-7.93

-11.81

2. Technology Innovation

1 224.3

1 504.5

17.1

22.88

17.71

3. International Cooperation and Resources

149.0

156.4

1.8

4.99

0.56

4. Research, Development and Support

4 572.9

4 882.5

55.5

6.77

2.27

5. Socio-Economic Innovation Partnerships

1 834.7

1 893.7

21.5

3.21

-1.14

Total

8 172.3

8 797.4

100

7.65

3.11

Economic Classification

 

Current payments

645.7

632.5

7.19

-2.04

-6.17

Transfers and subsidies

7 523.9

8 162.2

92.78

8.48

3.91

Payments for capital assets

2.8

2.8

0.03

0

-4.21

Total

8 172.3

8 797.4

100

7.65

3.11

 

The Department’s budget funds five major programmes, namely:

  • Programme 1 – Administration
  • Programme 2 – Technology Innovation
  • Programme 3 – International Cooperation and Resources
  • Programme 4 – Research, Development and Support
  • Programme 5 – Socio-economic Innovation Partnerships

 

These programmes fulfil the Department’s mandate of realising the full potential of science, technology and innovation in social and economic development. The percentage budget allocation to the Programmes and in terms of economic classification remains essentially the same as in previous financial years. The budget allocation is aligned to the priorities of strengthening and expanding STI human capital development and ensuring that innovation and knowledge underpin the government’s growth strategy. Hence, Programmes 2, 4 and 5, that are responsible for the transfers to the following Departmental entities; namely, ASSAf, CSIR, HSRC, NRF, TIA and SANSA, receive 94% of the Department’s total budget allocation.

 

For 2020/21, the Department has captured its performance reporting into 51 performance outputs that have been translated into 52 performance indicators.

 

Programmes 2 to 5, since 2019/20, include a sub-programme for the Offices of the Deputy Director-Generals (DDGs), where Programme 2 is allocated R5.3 million, Programme 3 is allocated R5.7 million, Programme 4 is allocated R4.5 million and Programme 5 is allocated R3.5 million. The total allocation to the DDGs Offices is R19 million (R16.7 million in 2019/20). This sub-programme provides management and administrative support to the Programmes and the Offices of the DDGs.

 

  1. Programme 1: Administration

 

Programme 1 provides strategic leadership, management and support services to the Department and is responsible for six of the Department’s 2020/21 performance targets. Its sub-programmes are Ministry, Institutional Planning and Support (IPS), Corporate Services (CS) and Office Accommodation. Programme 1’s R360.3 million, which has been subjected to a real decrease of 11.8%, will mainly be spent on salaries (R200.4 million) and on Goods and services (R141.6 million). The sub-programmes, IPS and CS, being responsible for strategic and operational planning, management, monitoring and evaluation, receives the bulk of Programme’s 1 allocation. Notable changes include the significantly reduced allocation to the Office Accommodation sub-programme, which decreases from R53 million to R5.6 million and that expenditure on property payments decreases from R60.3 million in 2019/20 to R13.3 million in 2020/21, the latter amount being similar to those in the three financial years before 2019/20. The substantial increase to the Office Accommodation allocation in 2019/20 was for a feasibility study on the design and construction of a new building and for the refurbishment of the existing headquarters of the Department.

 

A risk identified in the Department’s 2020/21 APP is that the Department may, at present, not be enabled to effectively coordinate and steer the implementation of the 2019 White Paper. The Department states that this risk will be mitigated through the establishment of a ministerial-level committee for STI and a Presidency-level STI Plenary; the development of the Decadal Plan; and improved stakeholder mapping and targeted engagements to support the implementation of the 2019 White Paper. The Department will also be undertaking an organisational structure review, which will change the current post establishment, as well as a budget restructuring process to ensure alignment with its expanded mandate and new priorities. Priority will then be given to filling those vacancies that are crucial in terms of the Decadal Plan. A key performance objective for Programme 1 is to ensure that the Decadal Plan will be finalised and approved by Cabinet by 31 March 2021.

 

Programme 1 also administers and funds the operations of NACI, which is estimated to be R16.7 million for 2020/21. Programme 1 transfers R15.6 million to non-profit institutions for Institutional and programme support research.

 

  1. Programme 2: Technology Innovation

 

Programme 2 enables R&D in space science and technology, energy security, the bioeconomy, and in the areas of nanotechnology, robotics, photonics and indigenous knowledge systems (IKS), and promotes the realisation of commercial products, processes and services from these R&D initiatives. In addition, through the implementation of enabling policies and interventions along the entire innovation value chain, promotes the protection and utilisation of IP, technology transfer and technology commercialisation. It is responsible for 14 of the Department’s 2020/21 performance targets. Programme 2 has five sub-programmes and one specialised service delivery unit (SSDU). These are Space Science, Hydrogen and Energy, Bio-innovation, Innovation Priorities and Instruments (IPI), the Office of the DDG, and the National Intellectual Property Management Office (NIPMO).

 

Programme 2 receives R1.5 billion (17%) of the Department’s total allocation, which is a real increase of 17.7% when adjusted for inflation. The IPI sub-programme that supports and strengthens the policy initiatives that aim to create and sustain an enabling environment for innovation, technology development and the commercialisation of products from publicly funded R&D, continues to receive the largest share of Programme 2’s budget, as well as the largest increase to its allocation, growing in real terms by 35.3%. The allocation is estimated to increase further over the medium-term to R1.15 billion in 2021/22 and R1.18 billion in 2022/23. The lowest allocation, as in previous financial years, goes to NIPMO. The remaining funds are relatively equally distributed between the Space Science, Hydrogen and Energy and Bio-innovation sub-programmes, with only Space Science receiving an above-inflation increase.

 

Approximately 93% (R1.4 billion) of Programme 2’s budget is allocated to Transfers and subsidies, with the entities, TIA and SANSA receiving R455.9 million (R440.9 million in 2019/20) and R182.1 million (R143.5 million in 2019/20), respectively. Space science research is also allocated R31.4 million from the Economic Competitiveness and Support Package, which is the next tranche of funding for the further development of South Africa’s earth observation satellite, EO-Sat1. Furthermore, the stated emphasis on innovation reflects in a transfer to various institutions for Innovation projects research amounting to R1.3 billion over the medium-term, with the 2020/21 allocation being R241.4 million, a significant increase from the R19.5 million transferred in 2019/20. Thereafter, the transfers for 2021/22 and 2022/23 are estimated to be R544.9 million and R546.5 million, respectively. The significantly increased transfers (i.e. from 2019/20) to various institutions (public corporations) for Emerging research areas is sustained and amounts to R364 million over the medium-term, with R116.5 million transferred in 2020/21. The latter supports research in fields related to the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

 

Strategic policy initiatives that will receive specific attention over the medium-term include continuing the work to establish the Sovereign Innovation Fund, which is allocated R1.2 billion over the medium-term and accounts for the significant increase to the IPI sub-programme’s allocation. The Department will undertake the 2nd Five-year Review of Hydrogen South Africa (HySA); as well as reviews of the TIA, SANSA, the Intellectual Property Rights from Publicly Financed Research and Development Act, and NIPMO.

 

  1. Programme 3: International Cooperation and Resources

 

Programme 3 supports South Africa’s foreign policy through science diplomacy. Hence, it develops, promotes and manages international relationships, opportunities and science and technology agreements that both strengthen the NSI and enable an exchange of knowledge, capacity and resources between South Africa and its international partners, with a focus on supporting STI capacity building in Africa. It is responsible for nine of the Department’s 2020/21 performance targets. Programme 3 has four sub-programmes; namely, Multilateral Cooperation and Africa, International Resources, Overseas Bilateral Cooperation and the Office of the DDG.

 

Programme 3 receives approximately 2% (R156.4 million) of the Department’s 2020/21 budget allocation, which is the smallest portion and increases just slightly above inflation. The distribution of the allocation between sub-programmes remains the same as in previous financial years, with International Resources being allocated the largest share at 44.7%. In terms of economic classification, R81.8 million is allocated to Current payments and R74.6 million to Transfers and subsidies. With regard to the latter, R16.7 million is transferred to the NRF, who manages Bilateral cooperation for global science development agreements on behalf of the Department; and non-profit institutions receive R47.6 million for Global science: International multilateral agreements and R10.4 million for Global science: African multilateral agreements.

 

Over the medium-term, Programme 3 aims to secure international funding of R900 million; the participation of 2 090 South African researchers in international postgraduate training programmes; provide technical and financial support for 67 SADC and AU approved STI initiatives; and secure 12 new leadership positions in international STI governance structures for South Africa. The Department’s 2020-2025 Strategic Plan states that, “The traditional focus of South Africa’s international STI partnerships has been on research cooperation, chiefly involving public organisations, especially higher education institutions. A stronger emphasis will be placed on innovation and commercialisation initiatives”. Hence, the Department will pursue dedicated interventions to increase the STI-focussed foreign investment secured by South Africa. Furthermore, specific policy initiatives will focus on the implementation of a dedicated strategy for Africa and enhanced partnerships with the European Union.

 

  1. Programme 4: Research, Development and Support

 

Programme 4 seeks to provide an enabling environment for research and knowledge production that promotes the strategic development of basic sciences and priority science areas through science promotion, human capital development and the provision of research infrastructure and relevant research support, in pursuit of South Africa’s transition to a knowledge economy. It is responsible for 13 of the Department’s 2020/21 performance targets. Programme 4 has five sub-programmes; namely, Human Capital and Science Promotions, Science Missions, Basic Science and Infrastructure, Astronomy and the Office of the DDG.

 

Programme 4 is allocated R4.88 billion (55.5%) of the Department’s total allocation. The increase in Programme 4’s budget, once adjusted for inflation, represents a real increase of 2.3% (real decreases of 4% in 2019/20 and 5% in 2018/19). Only the allocation to the Human Capital and Science Promotions sub-programme, which receives 55.5% of the Programme 4’s allocation, does not increase in line with inflation. The Basic Science and Infrastructure sub-programme receives its first real increase in two years after being subjected to decreases in allocation of approximately R102 million in 2019/20 and R49 million in 2018/19. The distribution of the allocation between sub-programmes remains the same as in previous financial years.

 

Approximately 98.7% (R4.82 billion) of Programme 4’s budget is allocated to Transfers and subsidies, with the entities, ASSAf, NRF and CSIR receiving R27.9 million, R3.4 billion and R260.2 million, respectively. Other notable transfers include R793.8 million for Infrastructure projects for R&D and R230.8 million for Strategic science platforms for R&D. The increase in the Astronomy sub-programme’s allocation is largely driven by the R780.8 million capital contribution for research on the Square Kilometre Array. Over the medium-term, this sub-programme is allocated R2.6 billion.

 

Over the medium-term, Programme 4 is allocated R15.3 billion for the development of human capital through the provision of postgraduate bursaries, internships, support for emerging and established researchers, and strategic instruments such as the South African Research Chairs Initiative (SARChI). Included in this, is R6.3 billion to the NRF for the awarding of 20 600 postgraduate and 7 400 doctoral STEMI bursaries.

 

Strategic initiatives that will receive specific attention include developing a framework for and draft of the South African Open Science Policy; developing a Postgraduate Funding Policy; developing a reporting framework on postgraduate bursaries; developing a framework for an efficient, holistic financial aid ecosystem for both undergraduate and postgraduate funding; developing a policy on the training of postgraduate engineering students; implementing the digital platform for tracking NRF-funded students; finalising the South African Council for Natural Scientific Professions (SACNaSP) Amendment Bill; and conducting a feasibility study for an astronomy institute.

 

  1. Programme 5: Socio-Economic Innovation Partnerships

 

Programme 5 seeks to enhance the growth and development priorities of government through targeted STI interventions and the development of strategic partnerships with all levels of government, industry, research institutions and communities. It is responsible for 10 of the Department’s 2020/21 performance targets. Programme 5 has five sub-programmes; namely, Sector Innovation and Green Economy, Innovation for Inclusive Development, Science and Technology Investment, Technology Localisation, Beneficiation and Advanced Manufacturing, and the Office of the DDG.

 

Programme 5 receives R1.89 billion (21.5%) of the Department’s total budget allocation. The increase in Programme 5’s budget, once adjusted for inflation, represents a real decrease of 1.1%, with only the Science and Technology Investment sub-programme receiving an above-inflation increase of 1.4%. The distribution of the allocation between sub-programmes remains the same as in previous financial years, with Sector Innovation and Green Economy being allocated the largest share at 57% to establish high impact scientific research that would support the growth of environmental technologies and services in South Africa. Over the medium-term, R5.8 billion will be invested in the development of industry, particularly in high‐potential fields such as aerospace, advanced manufacturing, chemicals, advanced metals, mining and ICT; the creation of instruments to increase the competitiveness of SMMEs; and youth, by fully funding and co‐funding 1 454 masters and doctoral students, and 590 interns. An estimated R3.4 billion of the R5.8 billion is earmarked for advancing technology‐based interventions intended to enhance South Africa’s economic competitiveness and increase exports, and R123.6 million of the R3.4 billion is to be invested in a range of ICT initiatives such as artificial intelligence, nanotechnology, quantum computing and biotechnology. Furthermore, activities related to advancing the development of a joint industry‐government Mining R&D Hub will be funded through an allocation of R1.2 billion over the medium-term in the Innovation for Inclusive Development sub-programme.

 

Approximately 96.7% (R1.83 billion) of Programme 5’s budget is allocated to Transfers and subsidies, with the entities, NRF, HSRC and CSIR receiving R8.9 million, R337.6 million and R1.06 billion, respectively. Other notable transfers include R148.8 million from the Economic Competitiveness and Support Package for research and technical support to local manufacturing capacity and local innovations for the cold chain technology project.

 

Over the medium-term, Programme 5 will focus on how science and technology can be used to achieve inclusive development; identify, grow and sustain niche, high‐potential STI capabilities for sustainable development, the greening of society and the economy, and improve the competitiveness of existing industries; strengthen provincial and rural innovation and production systems; enhance understanding and analysis that support improvements in the functioning and performance of the NSI; and introduce and manage interventions and incentive programmes that increase the level of private sector investment in scientific or technological R&D. Policy initiatives that will be focused on over the medium-term include increasing the spatial footprint of the Living Labs in community learning centres; examining how the Preferential Procurement Policy Framework Act can transform service delivery; and reviving and developing a position paper on the STI Budget Coordination Mechanism and the arrangements finalised with National Treasury and STI-intensive national government departments.

 

  1. Budgetary allocations in support of COVID-19 interventions

 

The Department reported that it has, to date, reallocated R324.2 million to support a range of COVID-19 interventions. The specific amounts taken from each Programme and its intended purpose is outlined in Table 2.

 

Table 2: Budgetary allocations in support of COVID-19 interventions

Programme

Amount

R’000

Intervention

Impact on Programme

Administration

1 659

Employees' Health and safety. Provision of digital communication strategy services.

None. Funded from savings under goods and services.

Technology Innovation

102 516

Development of COVID-19 Indigenous knowledge-based remedies.

Development and manufacturing of testing kits and reagents, including rapid test.

Study for repurposing of drugs.

Acquisition of high resolution satellite imagery for settlement layer and mapping of Spaza shops and hotspots.

Projects and programmes to be deferred. No impact in the long term on the contracted projects, partly because the implementation is delayed due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

International Cooperation and Resources

35 000

R15 million: Co-funding for a special African rapid response to COVID-19 research fund to be administrated by the NRF for cooperation with 15 other African countries – Canada, Germany and the UK have made available R75 million to the fund – meaning the South African investment leveraged foreign investment at a ratio of 1:5.

 

R20 million: Co-funding of South African participation in various COVID-19 research and innovation programmes funded by the European Union such as the European Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership and the EUREKA Life without a Vaccine programme.

Delay funding other projects.

 

Socio-economic Innovation Partnerships

185 000

Several interventions are at various stages of implementation. This includes the establishment of the COVID-19 data system at the CSIR, ongoing work to build a robust evidence base on human behaviours and perceptions, deployment of 3D printing technologies for various COVID-19 requirements, support for ventilator development, and targeted support to technology stations to assist SMMEs with technology support to either respond to or adapt to changing requirements as a result of COVID-19.

No impact for a portion of the funding since implementation of projects will be delayed as a result of COVID-19 (for example, the Mandela Mining Precinct) and through savings within projects of line items such as equipment and reduced travel.

 

Some impact on the recapitalization of technology stations and implementation of Innovation for Inclusive Development initiatives. These may be mitigated through partnerships with other government departments and social sector.

Total

324 175

 

For the 2020-2025 period, the Department states that it will strive to foster and enable the entrenchment of an innovation culture across government, and will do so by introducing measures to endorse or assess STI components in all departmental strategies, and/or provide advice, expertise, facilitation and mediation on STI issues. The Department further states that this role must be clearly defined since there has not been a clear leader and owner of innovation policy development in government before.

 

  1. Entities of the Department of Science and Innovation

 

The Committee assessed the 2020-2025 Strategic Plans, 2020/21 Annual Performance Plans and 2020/21 Budget allocations of ASSAf, NRF, SANSA and TIA. The entities are funded through a Parliamentary grant, specific project and/or contract funds, or from income generated from research and commissioned projects, or from income generated from royalty, publishing, membership, registration and/or facility fees. The Parliamentary grant (also called the baseline allocation) is the guaranteed, annual allocation from the Department to its entities.

 

  1. Academy of Science of South Africa

 

The Academy of Science of South Africa is South Africa’s official national academy of science, representing the country in the international community of science academies. The Academy has a dual mandate; namely, to promote outstanding achievement in all fields of scientific enquiry and to honour distinguished scholars through election to Membership of the Academy; and to undertake studies on matters of public interest to provide evidence-based scientific advice to government and other stakeholders. ASSAf’s new Five-year Strategic Plan seeks to advance the following three core national thematic priority areas:

 

  • Policy for science - Advancing the objectives of the 2019 White Paper and the 2019-2024 MTSF in supportof the DSI’s mandate;
  • Science for policy - Promoting the advancement of evidence-based research related to nationalpriorities, including the deliverables of the SDGs; and
  • Science for society - Science engagement and science communication.

 

Hence, ASSAf’sstrategic approach aligns with the Department’s Outcomes 3 and 6; namely, increased knowledge generation and innovation input; and innovation in support of a capable and developmental state, and with the following priorities of the 2019-2024 MTSF, where ASSAf will:

 

Priorities 1 and 2: Capable developmental state, and Economic transformation and job creation

Be transformative in building and strengthening human capital development, thereby contributing to the economic competitiveness of South Africa, which in turn, will create job opportunities for economic development.

 

Priority 2: Economic transformation and job creation

Harness evidence-based studies to promote advancements in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education, health-related issues, environmental issues, societal issues and ethics.

 

Priority 5: Spatial integration, human settlements and local government

Deliver effective science engagement and communication at all stakeholder levels to promote public understanding of science and the public’s understanding of the value of science thereby also building on social cohesion.

 

Priority 7: A better Africa and World

Create a better Africa and World through service to society.

 

The Academy is governed by a Council, comprising 12 elected members and a 13th member appointed by the Minister of Higher Education, Science and Technology as a representative of NACI, and presently has three advisors. The current Council took office in October 2016.As a Membership-based organisation, the critical intellectual resources of the Academy reside in itsMembership, which presently comprises of 573 Members (31% black and 27% female). Members, whovolunteer their service, are supported in their science-advisory role by the fulltime staff of the ASSAfSecretariat, which currently numbers 36.ASSAf has been the host organisation of the International Science Council Regional Office for Africa (ISC ROA) from May 2015, for a planned period of five years. Since March 2015, ASSAf has also hosted The World Academy of Sciences Sub-Saharan Africa Regional Partner (TWAS SAREP). The responsibilities attached to these two offices align closely with ASSAf’s strategic goals and strengthen co-operation within Africa. ASSAf supported the founding of the South African Young Academy of Science (SAYAS) and continues to provide secretariat assistance and funding to support their activities. Office space and support services are provided to the South African Academy of Engineering (SAAE) at no cost.

 

It must be noted that despite ASSAf’s 24-years in existence, ASSAf remains accommodated in rented premises; the lease for which has been renewed until June 2020. The purchase or construction of a building remains a crucial imperative for ASSAf as well as to avoid escalating rental costs and to cater for future expansion. A permanent Academy home is; therefore, essential, given ASSAf’s prestige, both nationally and internationally.

 

The operational activities presented in ASSAf’s previous Strategic Plan were niched into four programmes; namely, the Governance and Administration Programme; Scholarly Publishing Programme (SPP); Liaison Programme (LP); and the Science Advisory Programme (SAP). The 2020-2025 Strategic Plan re-focuses ASSAf’s activities around six strategic outcomes, which will continue to be supported, administratively, by the existing Governance and Administration Programme (GAP), which houses four sub- programmes; namely, Governance, Finance and Risk, Human Resources, and Information Technology (IT) to ensure compliance with National Treasury requirements as outlined in the Public Finance Management Amendment Act. The objectives of the other key operational programmes are:

 

Science Advisory Programme (SAP) - aims to assist ASSAf in the fulfilment of its science advisory role in support of policy regarding key challenges facing the nation. A variety of relevant consensus studies are undertaken. Studies generally fall into broad categories related to: health, education, climate change, energy, the science-policy nexus, biosafety and biosecurity, and poverty reduction. Once concluded, considerable effort is expended in disseminating the findings and ensuring effective uptake of the recommendations. In addition to evidence-based studies on various issues, ASSAf undertakes policy commentaries and produces authoritative statements when appropriate. ASSAf regularly hosts workshops/symposia on a variety of topics.

 

Scholarly Publishing Programme (SPP) – the goal is to enhance national capacity to produce and publish research and to increase the quality and visibility of South African research publications. To achieve this goal, the SPP is responsible for the peer review of South African scholarly journals, the implementation of the open access platform for scholarly journals, the hosting of a National Scholarly Editors’ Forum and a National Scholarly Book Publishers’ Forum. A major thrust of this programme is the production and dissemination of the Academy’s flagship journal, the South African Journal of Science, and the science magazine, Quest.

 

Liaison Programme (LP) –is structured into a number of sub-programmes, each of which is designed toestablish and strengthen partnerships and engagement with key stakeholders and organisations. Itspurpose is to promote and recognise excellence and scholarly achievement, strengthen and enhanceinternational scientific linkages, and advance engagement with key policymakers in government, includingparliament and relevant national scientific organisations. The internal structure of the programmeincludes; (1) Member Liaison, which encompasses all aspects pertaining to Academy Member elections andcommunication with Members; (2) National Liaison, which is divided into strategic partnerships, scholarlylectures, prizes and awards, and science engagement; (3) International Liaison, which is divided intostrategic partnerships, Africa collaboration and overseas collaboration; (4) Young Scientists’ Liaison; and(5) Gender and Science, Technology and Innovation.

 

ASSAf’s six strategic outcomes are:

 

Outcome 1: Independent, authoritative and influential scientific advice – contributing to the objectives

of the SAP

Conduct effective evidence- based multidisciplinary science to inform policy and practice for the betterment of society.

 

Outcome 2: Science Engagement - contributing to the objectives of the SAP, SPP and LP

Promotion of public interest and awareness of science, science education and the value of evidence-based information in growing the knowledge economy.

 

Outcome 3: Mobilising Knowledge - contributing to the objectives of SAP and SPP

Strengthen interaction and access to ASSAf knowledge resources.

 

Outcome 4: Facilitating Partnerships – contributing to the objectives of the SPP and LP

Strengthen national, regional and international partnerships and create new ones.

 

Outcome 5: Scholarship Support – contributing to the objectives of the LP

To promote human capital development investment focusing on women scientists and young scientists.

 

Outcome 6: Supporting Transformation – contributing to the objectives of the LP

Ensuring organisational and membership transformation with respect to inclusion across gender, race, disciplines, and institutions.

 

The projected baseline allocation from the Department, in relation to the total projected budget over the 2020 MTEF, is approximately 71% for 2020/21, and 96% for 2021/22 and 2022/23. Historically, ASSAf has been able to secure external funding to supplement its baseline income in support of its activities. However, negative national and global economic trends place high levels of uncertainty on its future resources. ASSAf’s projected total revenue for 2020/21 is R41.2 million. ASSAf’s budget is apportioned across its Programmes as follows; where the GAP is allocated R12.7 million(30.8%), the LP is allocated R13.5 million (32.8%), the SAP is allocated R5.8 million (14.1%), and the SPP isallocated R9.2 million (22.3%). In addition, approximately R2.8 million (7%) will be reallocated from ASSAf’s 2020/21 budget to the national COVID-19 response effort.

 

Key issues affecting ASSAf include:

 

  • ASSAf’s activities are labour-intensive and require highly skilled staff; hence, compensation of employees is a key cost driver, accounting for approximately 76% of ASSAf’s total expenditure over the medium-term. Retaining and attracting the requisite skills is also a key challenge.
  • ASSAf is a small organisation and sub-optimal funding limits the amount and scope of ASSAf’s key strategic activities.
  • ASSAf is struggling to increase and diversify its Membership, as well as ensure greater participation in its activities by Members. ASSAf also needs to increase membership from currently underrepresented disciplines.
  • ASSAf is hampered by a lack of awareness of its capability and resources in that it has at its disposal some of the best minds in South Africa. Raising its profile and creating awareness of its importance is; therefore, crucial.
  • ASSAf does not have a permanent home, as with other Science Academies globally and in accordance with its importance, and leases its current premises.

 

  1. National Research Foundation

 

The National Research Foundation contributes to national development by:

 

  • Supporting, promoting and advancing research and human capacity development, through funding and the provision of the necessary research infrastructure, in order to facilitate the creation of knowledge, innovation and development in all fields of science and technology, including humanities, social sciences and indigenous knowledge;
  • Developing, supporting and maintaining national research facilities;
  • Supporting and promoting public awareness of, and engagement with, science; and
  • Promoting the development and maintenance of the national science system and support of Government priorities.

 

Hence, the strategic objectives of the NRF over the next decade are to shape, influence and impact the national research system; to establish itself as a thought leader and source of knowledge within the science sector; to create a clear, causal relationship between research and national development; to have a transformative effect on the national research enterprise and the relationship between science and society; and to enable, initiate, facilitate and perform excellent research with direct and indirect impact, whether immediate or long term, that extends the frontiers of knowledge, addresses national challenges and defines a sense of place for South Africa within the global knowledge enterprise.

 

The three NRF Strategic Plan Outcomes; namely, (1) a transformed (internationally, competitive and sustainable) research workforce, (2) enhanced impact of the research enterprise, and (3) enhanced impact of science engagement, and its outcome indicators and targets directly commit the organisation to deliver against MTSF Priorities 2 (economic transformation and job creation) and 3 (education, skills and health). Through its internationalisation and strategic investments, the NRF will make a contribution to the achievement of outcomes for other MTSF priorities, especially Priority 7 (better Africa and World). A fourth strategic outcome seeks to ensure that the NRF is a fit-for-purpose, transformed organisation.

 

The NRF is organised into four programmes; namely:

 

Programme 1 - Corporate – provides enabling systems and structures that support effective and efficient governance, strategy and planning capacity, and shared services.

 

Programme 2 - Science Engagement - leads and coordinates the discourse on science with and for society. Programme 2 supports the imperative of developing a scientifically literate society through a deliberate strategic focus on engaged research; enabling public access to research and science engagement infrastructure; support for the development of STEM education; building science engagement capacity and capability; and facilitating collaborations through private sector partnerships in science engagement.

 

Programme 3 - Research and Innovation Support and Advancement (RISA) - supports and promotes research through the development of human capacity, the generation of knowledge, and the provision of, and access to, cutting-edge research infrastructure. Programme 3 is responsible for Reviews and Evaluations; Grants Management and Systems Administration; Knowledge Advancement and Support; Research Chairs and Centres of Excellence; and Human and Infrastructure Capacity Development.

 

Programme 4 - National Research Infrastructure Platforms (NRIP) - provides leading-edge research infrastructure platforms in support of knowledge generation, innovation and human capacity development. Programme 4 incorporates the five National Research Facilities in the thematic areas of nuclear sciences; biodiversity and environmental sciences; astronomy and geodetic sciences and supports other evolving research infrastructure platforms.

 

The projected revenue for the NRF for 2020/21 is R4.4 billion. According to National Treasury’s 2020 Estimates of National Expenditure (ENE), total expenditure over the MTEF period is expected to be R13.8 billion, with spending on transfers and subsidies accounting for 60% of this amount for allocations to the Square Kilometre Array. Estimated capital expenditure of R644 million over the medium-term is earmarked primarily for the Square Kilometre Array, specialised equipment at iThemba LABS for the isotope facility project, and the South African Radio Astronomy Observatory for the MeerKAT extension, comprising 20 antennae.

 

The NRF’s funding is primarily received in four income streams. Namely, the Parliamentary grant (22%); Departmental contract funding (68%); contract funds from other government departments and entities (6.5%), and income generated internally through sales and interest accrued (3.5%). The NRF Parliamentary grant (baseline allocation), which is appropriated for the delivery of the organisational mandate, is set to increase on average by 3.7% over the MTEF period, being an effective decrease of about 1.8% in real terms. Considering that the National Research Facilities are largely funded from the Parliamentary Grant, the impact is likely to affect their performance and sustainability. This will need careful management and the real risk will be to ensure the upkeep of and access to facilities. The fluctuation and volatility of the Rand against major foreign currencies further exacerbate the challenge as the maintenance and upkeep costs of scientific infrastructure far outpace inflation, since specialised materials and equipment are imported. Due to Cabinet’s decision to reduce expenditure across government, transfers from the Department are projected to increase from R4 billion in 2019/20 to R4.2 billion in 2022/23, due to the completion of phase 1 of the Square Kilometre Array. The Departmental contract income revenue stream is projected to decreasemainly because the National Equipment Programme (NEP) funding of R160 million is funded every secondyear.The apportionment of expenditure between the NRF’s Programmes is as follows; Corporate and ScienceEngagement are each allocated 3%, NRIP is allocated 36%, and RISA is allocated 58% of the total NRFbudget.

 

The NRF’s Strategic Plan can only be implemented effectively with the necessary financial resources, both for the NRF and for the knowledge enterprise as a whole. Hence, sustainable and dependable resources are required for a thriving research enterprise. It is crucial that the NRF receives adequate resources, with sufficient predictability, to allow for long-term planning and sufficient flexibility to enable strategic decision making for maximum impact. This is a key challenge for the NRF. Moreover, government allocations to the NRF have not increased in real terms and the majority of the funding allocated to the organisation from Government is already earmarked (75%), leaving only 25% for the NRF to invest in a balanced portfolio of strategic priorities. The NRF is of the view that this funding model inhibits it from determining where funding would best serve the knowledge enterprise and national development. Hence, it requires a revised funding model to ensure greater flexibility and maximum impact of investments. Greater resource flexibility will allow the organisation to invest in areas of maximum impact to increase societal and knowledge impact. To this end, the NRF has initiated a process of developing a strategically orientated funding framework that would enable a greater degree of planning and that would permit the NRF greater efficacy in achieving its mandate and strategy.

 

  1. South African National Space Agency

 

The South African National Space Agency’s legislative mandate is premised on two primary Acts; namely, the Space Affairs Act and the South African National Space Agency Act. The former, an instrument of the Department of Trade and Industry, caters for the regulatory/policy context for the South African space programme; whereas the latter, an instrument of the Department, enables the establishment of SANSA as an implementing agency for the South African space programme. The National Space Strategy and the South African Earth Observation Systems (SAEOS) Strategy provide directives that directly inform the operationalisation of the South African space programme, inclusive of the role that SANSA should play.

 

During the first eight years of SANSA’s operations, its Annual Performance and Strategic Plans have been aligned to the budgetary allocations made to it for both its internal business operations and broader support to the local space sector. This approach regarding the budgetary allocations, imposed a limitation on SANSA’s scope of initiatives that were planned and implemented versus the implementation of initiatives actually needed to achieve the full mandate. A consequence of the alignment of SANSA activities to the funding only, is as follows:

 

  • SANSA’s inability to fully meet its mandate, especially with regards to global navigation satellite services (GNSS) and satellite telecommunications solutions and applications; and
  • Limited support to the local space industry, as per SANSA’s mandate.

 

SANSA has adopted five strategic goals that collectively contribute to the achievement of the Vision for the local space sector and the Mission of SANSA. These are:

 

Goal 1: The development of a suite of space application products and services that directly respond to user needs - SANSA may develop some of these applications within the Agency, but the primary approach should be to leverage domain expertise externally.

 

Goal 2: The building of core space infrastructure, both ground and space based, that will enable the delivery of essential space services - SANSA will take stock of the current infrastructure base and the future infrastructure requirements and plan accordingly to ensure an optimal infrastructure capacity that is adequately able to respond to user requirements both nationally and at a continental scale.

 

Goal 3: The generation of space relevant knowledge that supports the developmental agenda - SANSA will foster and lead collaborative R&D in space-related areas on a national scale. SANSA will set the national R&D agenda, its priorities, targets and outcomes in line with its new Strategic Plan.

 

Goal 4: The development of requisite human capacity that is needed for the implementation of key space initiatives - Capacity development in space-related areas will not only benefit space, but will have an impact in other areas that require scientists, engineers and technicians. Skills development with a solution driven mind set will be promoted, and space will be utilised as a driver to prepare the youth for the fourth industrial revolution.

 

Goal 5: The positioning of SANSA as a key enabler of government’s policy imperatives - SANSA will position itself to respond more comprehensively to a larger proportion of national priorities in a more cost-effective and impactful manner.

 

In pursuing its identified Strategic Goals and Objectives, SANSA will deliver in four thematic areas that are identified as important for an effective space programme. These thematic areas include:

 

  • Earth observation– to continue to increase our knowledge and expertise in the development of space applications products and services to address our socio-economic-environmental challenges;
  • Navigation and positioning– will focus on the development of augmentation technologies, applications and services in navigation, timing and positioning, including the development of know-how in the means to protect and improve these applications;
  • Satellite Communications– will focus on the development of telecommunications technologies and applications in collaboration with end users; and
  • Space science and Exploration– will foster and support knowledge generation (fundamental and applied research) as well as mission driven space science and exploration projects, which are of strategic interest to the region.

 

SANSA implements its five strategic goals by clustering its activities across five broad strategic programmes. These are:

 

Programme 1: Administration Support - provides management, administrative and technical support across the organisation.

 

Programme 2: Earth Observation - is responsible for the development and promotion of earth observation products for socio-economic development and improved livelihoods in South Africa and the African continent. The objective is to collect, assimilate and disseminate earth observation data and products to support South Africa’s policymaking and implementation for socio-economic growth through areas that include food security, water resource management, integrated spatial planning and land reform, disaster management, peace and security, oceans economy and global change.

 

Programme 3: Space Science - leads multi-disciplinary space science research and development. Key functions include, fundamental and applied space science research, the support of space-facilitated science through science data acquisition, coordination and management of scientific data ground segments, provision of space weather and other geo-space and magnetic technology products and services on a commercial and private basis to the defence, maritime, communications, aviation and energy sectors. The programme also provides leadership in postgraduate science and engineering student training as well as science advancement including both learner and educator science support.

 

Programme 4: Space Operations - responsible for the acquisition of satellite data for the Earth Observation Programme and the provision of ground segment support. Through this programme, SANSA conducts various space operations, including launch and early orbit support, in-orbit testing, satellite lifecycle support and satellite mission control for both national and international space industry clients and governments. The programme also supplies hosting capabilities with the intention of expanding this capability to Teleports.

 

Programme 5: Space Engineering - leads systems engineering and project management excellence and drives a small satellite development programme in South Africa in partnership with external contractors, R&D institutions and private sector partners. The programme conducts satellite and subsystems analysis, leads the technical side of the space programme project management, supports human capital development in space engineering as well as facilitates private space industry partnerships.

 

SANSA’s key deliverables for the 2020/21 financial year are:

 

  • Deliver six high-impact products and services;
  • Aim to achieve a research productivity score of 1300, which is a composite score based on publications, graduated students, research funding, and researcher rating achieved;
  • Provide support to 50 students and interns for studies in Earth Observation, Space Science, and Space Engineering;
  • Aim to generate R68 million from both national and international space operations contracts;
  • Raise awareness of 25 500 youth, through direct engagement; and
  • If satellite programme funding is received, aim to continue to out-source in excess of R50 million to the broader space industry and 20% of the total contracted value to SMMEs through the satellite-build programme.                   

 

The 2020 ENE states that the total 2020/21 budget for SANSA amounts to R292.2 million. The apportionment of this budget across Programmes is as follows; the Administration Programme is allocated R57.4 million, the Earth Observation Programme is allocated R53.1 million, the Space Science Programme is allocated R78.2 million, the Space Operations Programme is allocated R71.4 million, and the Space Engineering Programme is allocated R65.7 million. This amounts to total revenue of R325.8 million for the 2020/21 financial year; the difference in total budget is related to the income SANSA generates through the services it provides or the additional contract income it secures. However, SANSA projects that it will require R661 million to fulfil its full mandate in the 2020/21 financial year.

 

  1. Technology Innovation Agency

 

The Technology Innovation Agency is mandated to translate a greater proportion of publicly-funded research into commercial technology products and services. This implies exploiting the existing body of knowledge at universities and public research organisations, and channelling it towards the development of technology-based industries. This is done with the intention of creating sustainable jobs and transforming the economy from one that is reliant on commodity exports to one that is knowledge-based and equipped to address modern local and global challenges. TIA aims to support, stimulate and intensify technological innovation to improve economic growth, and is positioned as a development finance institution that provides “gap” funding for technology development projects (seen as high-risk investments, hence, there is a lack of commercial funding) with high social and economic impact. TIA’s key funding instruments are the Seed Fund Programme, the Technology Development Fund and the Pre-Commercialisation Fund.

 

A critical review of TIA’s execution of its core mandate revealed that in the past five years, TIA has supported a large number of innovations. However, the translation and commercialisation success rate has been suboptimal. As a result, TIA aims to reposition itself within the NSI by directing a greater proportion of its resources towards the translation and commercialisation of publicly financed intellectual property emanating from higher education institutions and science councils. Hence; TIA’s 2020-2025 strategic focus hinges on three core pillars; namely, (1) Commercialising innovations, (2) Delivering on the Bio-economy Strategy, and (3) Supporting SMMEs through strategically informed and regionally distributed Technology Stations.

 

To deliver on its strategy, TIA will build and pursue strategic partnerships for increased funding in the NSI to bolster TIA’s funding base and resources; create partnerships to develop innovation skills and a national culture of innovation, which will enable thought leadership for system-wide impact; and implement measures to increase operational efficiency and effectiveness. Consequentially, TIA will consolidate a number of its innovation-enabling programmes to enhance their potential for maximum impact; increase its spend on publicly-financed research and development from 57% to 70%; scale up the Seed Fund Programme and intensify its deployment; strengthen its partnership with NIPMO to source disclosed intellectual property and strengthen the capacity of university Offices of Technology Transfer (OTTs); broaden its spatial footprint through increased support for underserved provinces; expand the Technology Stations Programme; and support the District Development Model.

 

Performance against TIA’s three core strategic pillars will be measured against the following output indicators:

 

Commercialising innovations - Support the development of technological innovations by translating knowledge into market-ready innovations.

Output indicators include the number of successfully demonstrated technologies, the number of successfully diffused technologies, and the total value of agreements that have been entered into with third parties.

 

Delivering on the Bio-economy Strategy - Support the translation of South Africa’s knowledge resources into sustainable bio-based solutions that address societal challenges while contributing to sustainable economic growth.

Output indicators include the number of successfully demonstrated bio-based technologies, the number of existing Technology Platforms that are operational and functional, the number of new Technology Platforms in targeted regions, and the number of existing Technology Innovation Clusters that are operational and functional.

 

Supporting small, medium and micro enterprises through strategically informed and regionally distributed Technology Stations - Provide access to science, engineering and technology body of knowledge and expertise in technology innovation, process improvements and product development to innovators and SMMEs to enable them to become competitive.

Output indicators include the number of existing Technology Stations and centres providing science, engineering and technology (SET) support that are operational and functional, and the number of new centres providing SET support in targeted regions.

 

TIA remains underfunded, with an average annual budget of R500 million that largely supports the Bio-economy Programme and Technology Stations Programme. The implication of this is that there is a relatively small amount of funding available for meaningful investments in new projects. Another key factor is that, due to financial constraints, TIA has not been successful in expanding its national footprint.

 

TIA’s total budget allocation for the 2020/21 financial year is R620.9 million, which comprises the baseline allocation from the Department of R455.9 million, and an additional income target of R154 million. Approximately 72% (R447.8 million) of this budget is allocated to TIA’s investment portfolio, where the Bio-economy is allocated 46% of the investments budget, the Technology Stations are allocated 22%, the Commercialisation programme is allocated 19%, and the Innovation enabling initiative is allocated 13%. Due to budget cuts, the TIA Board directed that the salary and administrative budget be reduced by R50 million and that these funds be directed to TIA’s project and programme expenditure. Hence, vacant positions will be frozen, bonuses will be cut and only critical posts will be filled. Currently, all three General Manager positions are held by individuals acting in these positions, and TIA also has had an interim Chief Executive Officer since mid-2019.

 

Key issues affecting TIA include:

 

  • TIA’s financial sustainability remains a concern where an ideal budget for innovation project disbursements (as expressed by TIA) would be around R1 billion. The level of the current budget restricts TIA’s risk appetite and by extension the sectors in which it operates.
  • TIA’s Stakeholder satisfaction rate is very low due to internal operational inefficiencies and lack of responsiveness.
  • TIA’s translation mandate has not been fully exploited, with a low commercialisation rate and lack of strategic positioning in the NSI.
  • Operationally, TIA has not been fully fit-for-purpose and has struggled to attract and retain the human capacity it needs to optimally fulfil its mandate.
  • TIA has not successfully expanded its national footprint, and its investments are skewed towards the three most economically active provinces.

 

  1. Committee Deliberations

 

In concluding its deliberations on Budget Vote 35: Science and Innovation, the Committee commended the Department and the entities for the work they do and for formulating coherent strategies and performance plans.Furthermore, the Committee noted the following:

 

  1. Department of Science and Innovation

 

  1. Transformation of the STI sector in terms of human capacity, organisational composition, and the R&D focus areas; requires deliberate, well considered, and adequately resourced interventions. Hence, the Committee is keen to receive briefings by the Department on these important policy interventions (for example, the new postgraduate funding policy), which aim to chart a new trajectory for the future development and enhancement of South African STI.
  2. To ensure that the country participates meaningfully in the Fourth Industrial Revolution, the Committee recognisedthe importantrole the Department may have to play in the design and establishment of the proposed science and innovation university.
  3. Crucial to the transformation of the human capacity in the STI sector, is the creation and continued growth of a pipeline of students pursuing careers in science, mathematics and engineering.Discussion around curricula involving the Departments of Basic Education, Higher Education and Training as well as Science and Innovation, is necessary to assess and input on how this contributes to what is required for the science, technology and innovation system, as well as the skills needed for the economy.
  4. Intergovernmental coordination and partnerships are instrumental in ensuring that the work done by the Department and the entities is used and implemented. These relationships are crucial to ensuring that crosscutting activities are better co-ordinated, resources are optimally utilised and solutions that improve the quality of life of the people are implemented. Hence, the Committee welcomes the on-going internal consultations, particularly around funding responsibilities and awaits the finalisation of the Decadal Plan and the establishment of the inter-Ministerial STI Committee to see how the proposed innovation compacts will be realised.
  5. Enhanced coordination is also necessary at Parliamentary level among the various Portfolio and Select Committees in instances where science and innovation issues are transversal. Increased joint activities will; therefore, be pursued.
  6. The Department has a mandate to deliver on Government’s national priorities. In this regard, the Committee raised its concern about the evident financial sustainability challenges and further proposed budget cuts, especially now when science and innovation has been crucial to the national effort to curb COVID-19 and is also expected to ensure that the country recovers from the impact of COVID-19 on the economy.
  7. The Committee expressed concern that the impact of the budget cuts would be absorbed by reprioritising posts. This is problematic for a Department that already has a 23% vacancy rate.
  8. The Committee noted the National Treasury directive that entity budgets be cut by 20%. However, the Committee is concerned by the seemingly uneven application of this directive to the budgets of the Department’s entities.
  9. The current total investment in R&D is inadequate to drive the economic transformation agenda of South Africa and would need to be increased to effectively meet the goals of NDP Vision 2030. Of particular concern to the Committee is the decreasing expenditure on R&D by the business sector.
  10. Science, technology and innovation drive most of our daily activities. Hence, the Committee expressed concern that the work undertaken by the Department and its entities is not well communicated and in many instances completely unknown. Furthermore, efforts to increase the levels of public science awareness and engagement are inadequate and need to be enhanced.
  11. Impressed by the level and scope of work of the Department, the Committee would like to see the Department and its entities assume a more prominent and leading role in ensuring that science and innovation transforms and drives economic growth and is implemented widely to serve the needs of South Africans.

 

  1. Academy of Science of South Africa

 

  1. The Committee, impressed by the level and scope of the work undertaken, would like ASSAf to broaden the communication of its role and impact.
  2. When reporting to Parliament, the Committee requires that presentations provide detailed demographic information about the entity and the programmes its implements. Furthermore, with regard to the latter, detailed information about the geographical spread and gender responsiveness of interventions is also required.
  3. Specific to its advisory function, the Committee enquired as to the impact and level of uptake of the recommendations of ASSAf’s evidence-based studies, and specifically related to the closure of schools due to COVID-19, whether the Department of Basic Education had sought the Academy’s advice.
  4. The Committee expressed concern regarding ASSAf’s limited budget and notes that additional funding will be sought through its partnerships with other Academies. However, the Committee is aware that since this funding would be of a short-term nature, efforts for long-term planning and budgeting are hampered.

 

  1. National Research Foundation

 

  1. The Committee advised that when considering an APP, its focus is on programmes, targets and allocations. Going forward, the NRF is requested to submit more financial detail when they report on the budgetary aspects of their plans.
  2. Furthermore, when reporting to Parliament, the Committee requires that presentations provide detailed demographic information about the entity and the programmes its implements. Furthermore, with regard to the latter, detailed information about the geographical spread and gender responsiveness of interventions is also required.
  3. The Committee expressed concern about the proposed 20% cut to the NRF’s budget allocation and how this would affect funding for established researchers. The latter forming part of the community of experts responsible for advising government in its plans to curb and recover from COVID-19.
  4. Moreover, the Committee expressed its concern as to whether the NRF would be able to follow-through on its intention to award, for the first time, full cost postgraduate bursaries and what effect the proposed budget cuts would have on this intention.
  5. The Committee noted the ongoing discussions with the Department and stakeholders around amending the current funding model of the NRF, and keenly awaits the finalisation of these.
  6. The Committee expressed keen interest in the plans to expand the national research facility network to include national infrastructure for the social sciences and humanities, and awaits the development of proposals around these.
  7. The Committee expressed specific interest in how the NRF supports science and innovation in relation to the Fourth Industrial Revolution, and how this support is directed at historically disadvantaged institutions.

 

 

 

  1. South African National Space Agency

 

  1. The Committee, impressed by the level and scope of the work undertaken, would like SANSA to broaden the communication of its role and impact.
  2. The Committee expressed concern about the sub-optimal level of SANSA’s budget allocation and how this hampers the full implementation of its legislated mandate.
  3. Of further concern was SANSA’s infrastructure-revitalisation plans and whether the full cost of this could be accommodated within the current funding allocation.
  4. When reporting to Parliament, the Committee requires that presentations provide detailed demographic information about the entity and the programmes its implements. Furthermore, with regard to the latter, detailed information about the geographical spread and gender responsiveness of interventions is also required. This affords the Committee a clear view of representivityin the sector.
  5. Members noted the expansion of SANSA’s role with regard to space geodesy and awaits the outcome of discussions pertaining to how this will be effected since geodesy currently falls within the ambit of the South African Radio Astronomy Observatory.
  6. Members noted the extent of the dataset pertaining to earth observation and its potential value to the implementation of future sustainable development and service delivery interventions.

 

  1. Technology Innovation Agency

 

  1. The Committee expressed the view that unresolved issues pertaining to the interim Chief Executive Officer, former interim Chairperson of the Board and the significant numbers of vacancies at senior management level, detracts and diverts attention from the work TIA is mandated to do, and against which it has reported some noteworthy successes.
  2. Moreover, the Committee wishes to place on record that it takes serious exception to its recommendations to address these issues not being timeously attended to. It; however, does note that a new interim Chairperson of the Board has been appointedand that processes are underway to address the vacancies of the Chief Executive Officer and senior managers.
  3. When reporting to Parliament, the Committee requires that presentations provide detailed demographic information about the entity and the programmes its implements. Furthermore, with regard to the latter, detailed information about the geographical spread and gender responsiveness of interventions is also required.
  4. The Committee further expressed the view that TIA’s new Strategic and Annual Performance Plans were vague in that it did not provide enough specifics pertaining to the interventions it intends to implement.
  5. The Committee expressed concern about the 10% cut to TIA’s budget allocation and how this would hamper its efforts to address current challenges regarding being fit-for-purpose to fulfil its mandate, as well as implement the intended reorganisation and scaling-up of its interventions.
  6. The Committee would like TIA to broaden the communication of its role and impact.
  7. The Committee would like TIA to play a more prominent role in advocating the centrality of innovation to sustainable and inclusive socio-economic development.
  8. The Committee welcomes the institutional review of TIA that will be undertaken during 2020/21.

 

  1. Committee Recommendations

 

The Portfolio Committee on Higher Education, Science and Technology, having considered Budget Vote 35: Science and Innovation, recommends that:

 

  1. The Department provide a comprehensive brief to the Committee on the policy interventions that will transform STI human capital development and cover the full cost of postgraduate support. The Committee will accommodate this report within its 2020/21 annual programme.
  2. TheMinister of Higher Education, Science and Technology ensures that the Department plays a prominent role in the design and establishment of the proposed science and innovation university.
  3. The Department provide the Committee with an update regarding the progress on discussions with the other government departments and stakeholders in its’ attempt to finalise the areas of collaboration and funding for the implementation of the Decadal plan. Following this, a comprehensive brief to the Committee is expected on the final Decadal Plan and how it will affect the priority focus areas of the Department and its entities, as well as its effects on the Department’s organisational structure and budgeting framework.The Committee will schedule these items for deliberation in its 2020/21 annual programme.
  4. The Department provide a detailed account to the Committee on the effects of the budget cuts, how it has been applied across all its entities, and how these effects will be individually mitigated by the Department and the entities. This should be presented when the Committee considers the 2020/21 First Quarter financial and performance report in August 2020.
  5. The Department and the NRF should also provide a report on the outcome of its discussion regarding the proposed changes to the NRF’s funding model. The Committee will accommodate this report when it considers the 2020/21 adjusted budget that will be tabled in late-June 2020.
  6. The Minister keep the Committee abreast of the developments with regard to his undertaking to address the decline of R&D investment by the private sector, share further strategiesto mobilise R&D investment by the private sector and the envisaged role of State-Owned Enterprisesin R&D, as soon as he had completed the necessary ground work for this.
  7. The Department and entities ensure that the existing interventions focussed on increasing the R&D expenditure by the business sector be effectively implemented, and that new interventions receive the necessary urgent attention as the country seeks to transform its economy and recover from the effects of COVID-19.The Committee will accommodate this report when it considers the quarterly performance of the Department.
  8. The Department brief the Committee in the third term on the current tender regulations and proposed new procurement regulations and the manner in which this is affecting the funding structure of the science entities.
  9. The Department and the NRF provide a comprehensive brief to the Committee on the plans to expand the national research facility network to include national infrastructure for the social sciences and humanities. The Committee will accommodate this report within its 2020/21 annual programme.
  10. The Department and SANSA provide a comprehensive brief to the Committee on the resources and structural reforms needed to ensure SANSA fully implements its legislated mandate.The Committee will accommodate this report within its 2020/21 annual programme.
  11. The Department and TIA resolve the executive structure vacancies as a matter of urgency. The Committee will assess progress in this regard when it considers the 2020/21 adjusted budget.
  12. Given the Committee’s view thatTIA’s Strategic and Annual Performance Plans lacked clarity and detail and that, to date,it has not fulfilled its intended purpose, the TIA should provide a comprehensive report pertaining to the interventions it intends to implement, as well as how it will ensure that it fully implements its legislative mandate.The Committee will assess progress in this regard when it considers the 2020/21 adjusted budget.
  13. The Minister ensures that TIA be more visible in advocating the centrality of innovation to sustainable and inclusive socio-economic development.
  14. The Department and its entities use innovative ways, amid the budgetary restrictions, to improve and broaden their science communication and engagement interventions. The Committee will schedule a briefing in the new term for the South African Agency for Science and Technology Advancement to explain how resources are allocated to science engagement and the programmes to strengthen science communication and the public understanding of STI.
  15. When reporting to Parliament, the Department and all its entities,should provide detailed demographic information, including where applicable the socio-economic status of beneficiaries,about the programmes and interventions that are being implemented. Furthermore, detailed information about the geographical spreadand the responsivenessof programmes and interventions to gender and vulnerable groups is required. The Committee will routinely monitor the adherence to this recommendation during its engagements with the Departments and its entities.
  16. When reporting to Parliament, all relevant presentations should provide detailed information on programmes, targets and budgetary allocations. The Committee will routinely monitor the adherence to this recommendation during its engagements with the Departments and its entities.
  17. The House adopts Budget Vote 35: Science and Innovation.

 

 

The Democratic Alliance reserves their right to an opinion on the Vote and the Economic Freedom Fighters rejects the Vote.

 

 

Report to be considered.

Documents

No related documents