ATC210514: Report of the Portfolio Committee on Higher Education, Science and Technology on Budget Vote 35: Science and Innovation (2021/22), dated14 May 2021

Higher Education, Science and Technology

Report of the Portfolio Committee on Higher Education, Science and Technology on Budget Vote 35: Science and Innovation (2021/22), dated14 May 2021.

 

The Portfolio Committee on Higher Education, Science and Technology, having considered Budget Vote 35: Science and Innovation and the 2021/22 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 or DSI) 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 5 May 2021 and the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), National Research Foundation (NRF) and Human SciencesResearch Council (HSRC) briefed the Committee on 7 May 2021, providing an overview of the strategic context within which they function andoutliningpriority performance indicators and their concomitant targets and the 2021/22 budget allocations.

 

  1. STRATEGIC OVERVIEW OF THE DEPARTMENT OF SCIENCE AND INNOVATION

 

  1. 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.

 

The STI Decadal Plan will serve as the implementation plan for the 2019 White Paper. Cabinet approved the Draft STI Decadal Plan on 24 March 2021. The Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation, during his input to the Committee on 5 May 2021, stated that this Draft enables him and the Department to begin consultations with those Ministers andDepartments whose portfolios are STI-intensive. The Draft STI Decadal Plan sets the basis to ensure that there is a comprehensive approach to and mainstreaming of STI across all government operations.Furthermore, Cabinet approval of the Draft STI Decadal Plan allows certain provisions of the STI White Paper to commence. These include that the President of the Republic can now convene, for the first time, the Annual STI Plenary, a stakeholder body which seeks to mainstream STI across government, the private sector and civil society. The President can also now appoint and lead an Inter-Ministerial Cabinet Committee on STI who will be responsible for overseeing the implementation of the STI Decadal Plan. It is hoped that these measures will improve the coordination of the NSI and enhance its responsiveness to South Africa’s social and economic challenges. Another key goal of the STI White Paper is the establishment of the Sovereign Innovation Fund, which will hopefully move South Africa closer to the goal of spending 1.5% of its GDP on research and development (R&D).

 

  1. 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 R&D;
  • 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 2019-2024 Medium Term Strategic Framework (MTSF), representing the second five-year phase of implementation for the NDP, aims to address thenational 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. Although the apex priorities are all interrelated, the Department’s focus and commitments are mainly on priorities 2 (Economic transformation and job creation) and 3 (Education, skills and health). The interventions led by the Department are:

 

Priority 2: Economic transformation and job creation

 

  • 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.
  2. Intervention:Strengthen the NSI by publishing 35 000 research articles by NRF-funded researchers cites in the Web of Science Citation database by 2024.

 

Priority 3: Education, skills and health

 

  • Outcome: Expanded access to post school education and training (PSET) opportunities.
  1. Intervention:Increase the number of black lecturers supported through the New Generation of Academics Programme (nGAP) by awarding bursaries to 12 200 PhD students by 2024.

 

  • Outcome: Improved quality of PSET provisioning.
  1. Intervention: Implement the nGAP by awarding bursaries to 24 400 pipeline postgraduate students by 2024.
  2. Intervention: Increase the number of emerging researcher grants to 3 000 by 2024 to improve the percentage of PhD-qualified staff.

 

  • Outcome: A responsive PSET system.
  1. Intervention: Conduct20 intellectual property(IP) awareness sessions at TVET colleges by 2024.
  2. Intervention: Support 1.3 million users from the university and post-school sectors, national research facilities, science councils, and all public research-performing institutions through the South African National Research Network (SANReN) by 2024.

 

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

 

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 Strategic 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; and

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

 

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. Transformation is to be considered in six dimensions: (i) demographic transformation; (ii) transdisciplinary transformation; (iii) institutional transformation; (iv) transformation through the translation of science and innovation into societal benefit and fundamental economic transformation; (v) transformation through citizen science (public engagement); and (vi) digital transformation of the national system of innovation. 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.

 

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.

 

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.

 

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.

 

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.

 

  1. Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan

 

The COVID-19 pandemic presents an opportunity to addresslong-term structural deficiencies in the South Africaneconomy and place the economy on a new path togrowth and job creation.The recently launched South African Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan (ERRP) aims to forge this new growth path, which will rely on massive rollout of infrastructure; a new paradigm for energy; an employment stimulus to create jobs and support livelihoods; renewed support to grow South African businesses; and fast-track reform measures for a competitive and inclusive economy.

 

Science, technology and innovation is central to building this new economy, and the Department through its six Strategic Outcomes comprehensively supports the priority areas of the ERRP. In this regard, continued long-term investment in RDI in South Africa over the years will be leveraged to contribute to economic reconstruction and recovery in three areas. Namely, RDI to revitalise and modernise existing industries/sectors; RDI that creates new sources of growth and stimulates R&D-led industrial development; and RDI in support of a capable and developmental state.The key sectorsthat will be supported, mainly through supporting sector master plans, include agriculture, mining and minerals beneficiation, and manufacturing.

 

  1. VOTE 35: SCIENCE AND INNOVATION (2021/22)

 

The President stated in the 2021 State of the Nation Address that the overriding priorities of 2021 were to (i) defeat the coronavirus pandemic, (ii) accelerate economic recovery, (iii) implement economic reforms to create sustainable jobs and drive inclusive growth, and (iv) strengthen the state and fight corruption. The Department’s 2020-2025 Strategic Outcomes details how STI can support/drive the realisation of these priorities. In particular, the COVID-19 pandemic elicited an unprecedented deployment of the global science and innovation community, and undeniably, offers the only exit strategy from COVID-19. Furthermore, digital technologies have played a pivotal role in ensuring that certain businesses maintain their operations. This enabled parts of the economy and society to continue working; thereby, mitigating the impacts of the pandemic. COVID-19has also exacerbated the great inequalities that exist among societies.

 

The pandemic, more so than other recent crises, has emphasised the importance of science and innovation to both prepare for and react to future crises, and has highlighted the need to ensure that STI policies direct RDI efforts toward achieving socio-economic and environmental sustainability, inclusivity and resilience. Hence, the resurgence of thought that advocates that science, technology and innovation should be considered as an investment, and not merely as an expenditure item against the national fiscus.

 

The Department has made and continues to make a significant contribution to combatting and mitigating the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.Included in these, the Department reprioritised R69 million for R&D at the onset of the pandemic. This funded, among many others, projects on genomic surveillance that led to South Africa discovering the first variant of COVID-19, which sensitized the global scientific community to how this virus mutates.The Department funded social science and humanities research in support of the National Coronavirus Command Council and Cabinet to better respond to the pandemic. Furthermore, a national COVID-19 monitoring and tracking observatory has also been established. The Department is also a key stakeholder in the national vaccination programme through its 47.5% shareholding in Biovac, the company currently storing and distributing the vaccines. In addition, the Department leads the focus area that looks at the development of a South African COVID-19 vaccine, as well as the development of broader vaccine manufacturing, production and distribution capacity in the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Vaccines.

 

The 2021 Budget is framed by the two policy objectives set out in the 2020 Medium Term Budget Policy Statement (MTBPS), which are to promote economic recovery and return public finances to a sustainable position. Hence, fiscal policy continues to focus on short-term economic support, pro-growth fiscal consolidation and debt stabilisation. The 2021 Budget proposes total consolidated spending of R2.02 trillion, with 56.8% of allocations going to learning and culture (R402.9 billion), health (R248.8 billion) and social development (R335.3 billion). Rising debt-service costs consume R269.7 billion, or 13.4% of the budget.

 

The 2021/22 consolidated government expenditure for innovation, science and technology is R17.4 billion (R15.4 billion in 2020/21, revised estimate), which is 1% of the total Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) allocation and 8.4% of the consolidated economic development expenditure of R207.5 billion.

 

  1. 2021/22 Budget Allocation to Vote 35: Science and Innovation

 

Over the medium-term, the Department will focus on producing new knowledge; generating and exploiting knowledge and innovation for inclusive economic development; health care innovation; developing human capital; developing infrastructure; and championing innovation in the energy sector. The Department’s allocation, over the medium term, is expected to increase at an average annual rate of 8.3% from R7.3 billion in 2020/21 to R9.2 billion in 2023/24. For this period, R25.6 billion is allocated for Transfers to entities for investment in key focus areas.

 

However, over the medium term, Cabinet approved budget reductions of R1.7 billion, which has been effected on compensation of employees (natural attrition and not filling vacant posts); selected goods and services items; and transfers to public entities.

 

The Department’s 2021/22 budget allocation increases from R7.3 billion in the 2020/21 financial year to R8.9 billion (Table 1). This represents, when adjusted for inflation, a real increase of 17.8% and closely returns the Department’s allocation to what it was in 2020 (R8.8 billion) before the budget cuts to meet the needs of the national COVID-19 response. In terms of economic classification, the apportionment of the Department’s 2021/22 budget allocation of R8.9 billion remains the same as in previous years and comprises Current payments of R566.5 million (6.3%), Transfers and subsidies of R8.4 billion (93.6%), which increases from R6.8 billion in 2020/21, and Payments for capital assets of R2.9 million (0.03%).

 

Over the medium term, the Department has set aside R5.3 billion to scale up interventions supporting the local production of ventilators, nano-satellites, hydrogen fuel cell technologies, renewable energy R&D, and pilots such as the KwaZulu-Natal Research Innovation and Sequencing Platform (KRISP). Furthermore, the Department and National Treasury will publish, in 2021, a discussion paper inviting public comment on the future of the Research and Development Tax Incentive, which expires on 1 October 2022. In relation to public-sector infrastructure, the Space Infrastructure Hub, allocated R4.5 billion sourced through the President’s sustainable infrastructure development symposium, is a South African National Space Agency (SANSA) programme that aims to use space data as a tool for national development and supporting commercial uses in areas such as remote sensing, navigation and space sciences. The hub will allow for the development of satellite infrastructure, satellite-based augmentation systems and earth observation satellites.

 

Table 1: Budget summary of the Department of Science and Innovation 2021/22

Programme

2020/21

Adjusted appropriation

(R’ million)

2021/22

Budget allocation

(R’ million)

Percentage of total budget

Nominal percentage change in 2021/22

Real percentage change in 2021/22 (inflation-adjusted)

1. Administration

304.1

328.2

3.7

7.9

3.6

2. Technology Innovation

1 378.3

1 780.2

19.9

29.2

24.0

3. International Cooperation and Resources

116.8

146.6

1.6

25.5

20.5

4. Research, Development and Support

3 745.2

4 949.2

55.4

32.1

26.8

5. Socioeconomic Innovation Partnerships

1 733.8

1 729.0

19.4

-0.3

-4.3

Total

7 278.3

8 933.3

100%

22.7%

17.8%

 

Notable changes in allocations include:

 

Goods and services:

  • The allocation for Consultants: Business and advisory services increases from R13.6 million to R21.8 million.
  • The allocation for Travel and subsistence increases to pre-2020 levels, from R19.2 million to R60.6 million.

 

Transfers and subsidies:

  • The allocation for Innovation projects research increases from R171.4 million to R503.3 million. This allocation supports innovation activities and aims to increase, commercialise and use publicly funded IP.
  • The allocation for Science awareness and initiatives to encourage youth participation in science increases from R33.5 million to R91.6 million.
  • The allocation for the Square Kilometre Array’s (SKA) capital contribution to research increases from R456.6 million to R802.4 million. This is driven by the additional 20 antennae that will be added to the MeerKAT.
  • The allocation to the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR): Mining R&D increases from R41.7 million to R63.5 million.
  • The allocation to the CSIR: Cyberinfrastructure R&D increases from R60.2 million to R272.1 million. This is the next tranche of funding to enhance the National Integrated Cyberinfrastructure System, which is allocated R3.6 billion over the medium term.

 

The 2020 Special Adjustment Budget impacted the Department’s plans in the following broad areas:

  • Infrastructure (the SKA, the National Integrated Cyber Infrastructure System and the South African Research Infrastructure Roadmap).
  • Human capital development in designated areas of advanced manufacturing, aerospace, chemicals, mining, advanced manufacturing, ICTs and the Industry Innovation Programme, including the Sector Innovation Fund and the green economy.
  • Science awareness initiatives.
  • Knowledge and innovation products generated.

 

The 2021/22 budget allocation seems to restore these funding commitments to 2020 levels and focuses more strongly on innovation activities.

 

  1. 2021/22 Budget Allocation to Departmental Programmes

 

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 STI in social and economic development. The percentage budget allocation to the Programmes remains essentially the same as in previous financial years and Programmes 2, 4 and 5 that are responsible for the Transfers to the Department’s entities, receive 94.7% of the Department’s total budget allocation.

 

For 2021/22, the Department has translated its planned performance into 53 performance indicators.

 

  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 2021/22 performance targets. It has four sub-programmes; namely, Ministry, Institutional Planning and Support (IPS), Corporate Services (CS) and Office Accommodation.

 

Programme 1’s R328.2 million, which increases in real terms by 3.6%, will mainly be spent on salaries (R170 million) and on Goods and services (R140.1 million). Approximately 58% of the Department’s staff are employed in Programme 1. 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 budget allocations under Goods and services comprise R15.5 million of the total R21.8 million for Consultants, and R35.9 million of the total R60.6 million for Travel and subsistence. Programme 1 administers and funds the operations of the National Advisory Council on Innovation (NACI) and transfers R15.3 million to non-profit institutions for Institutional and programme support research.

 

The Department states that 2021/22 will be devoted to finalising the STI Decadal Plan and that implementation thereof will commence in 2022/23. The planned activities for 2021/22 include consultations with NSI stakeholders during quarter 2, and aligning the strategic plans and APPs of the Department and its entities and the CSIR’s Shareholder Compact to the priorities of the STI Decadal Plan in quarters 3 and 4.

 

  1. Programme 2: Technology Innovation

 

Programme 2 enables R&D in space S&T, 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 15 of the Department’s 2021/22 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 Deputy Director-General (DDG), and the National Intellectual Property Management Office (NIPMO).

 

Programme 2 receives R1.78 billion of the Department’s total allocation, which increases in real terms by 24% (17.7% in 2020/21 before the two budget adjustments). 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 46.7% (35.3% in 2020/21 before the two budget adjustments). Over the medium term, the annual allocation of approximately R55 million to NIPMO is sustained and is estimated to total R166.5 million. 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 in 2021/22. Thereafter, the annual allocation to Space Science decreases to approximately R210 million for the two outer years of the MTEF.

 

Approximately 96% (R1.7 billion) of Programme 2’s budget is allocated to Transfers and subsidies, with the Technology Innovation Agency (TIA) and SANSA receiving R447.7 million and R202.2 million, respectively. Space science research is also allocated R32.4 million from the Economic Competitiveness and Support Package. However, from 2022 the transfer to SANSA returns to 2020 levels of approximately R161 million. Furthermore, the stated emphasis on innovation reflects in a transfer to Departmental agencies: Various institutions for Innovation projects research amounting to R1.5 billion over the medium term, with the 2021/22 allocation being R503.3 million; a significant increase from the 2020/21 allocation of R171.4 million and a further significant increase from the 2019/20 allocation of R14.9 million. The significantly increased transfers (from 2019/20) to Public corporations: Various institutions for Emerging research areas is sustained and amounts to R356.6 million over the medium term, with R116.7 million transferred in 2021/22. The latter supports research in fields related to the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Furthermore, the allocation to Non-profit institutions for Health Innovation Research is sustained at approximately R54 million per annum over the medium term.

 

A notable change in allocation is the decrease from R16.8 million to R6.6 million, and thereafter R6.8 million, to the National Research Foundation for R&D in Indigenous Knowledge Systems (IKS). These funds will be used to fund activities related to the implementation of the Protection, Promotion, Development and Management of IndigenousKnowledge Act. In addition, under Goods and services, spending on Entertainment increases from R600 000 to R3.5 million. No funds were allocated to this item from 2017 to 2019.

 

Strategic policy initiatives that will receive specific attention over the medium term include continuing the work to establish the Innovation Fund, which will support the commercialisation of locally developed IP. The Department will undertake reviews of TIA and SANSA; and amend the Intellectual Property Rights from Publicly Financed Research and Development Act (IPR Act). A Business case for commercial space launch capability in South Africa and the Hydrogen Society Roadmap will also be developed.

 

  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 (S&T) 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 2021/22 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 R146.6 million of the Department’s total allocation, which increases in real terms by 20.5%. The percentage distribution of the allocation between sub-programmes stays the same as in previous financial years. However, the allocation to Overseas Bilateral Cooperation increases significantly, returning it close to pre-2020 levels. In terms of economic classification, notable increases in allocations to Travel and subsistence (from R300 000 to R7.3 million) and Venues and facilities (from R100 000 to R4.1 million) signifies a return to pre-COVID-19 activities. Transfers and subsidies amount to R74.5 million (R59.7 million in 2020/21), comprising R16.7 million for the NRF, who manages Bilateral cooperation for global science development agreements on behalf of the Department; R47.3 million for Non-profit institutions for Global science: International multilateral agreements and R10.5 million for Global science: African multilateral agreements. The latter two transfers to Non-profit institutions have increased significantly from 2019 levels, where International multilaterals received approximately R21 million and African multilaterals received R3.7 million.

 

Over the medium term, Programme 3 aims to:

 

  • Maximise South Africa’s strategic interests in international cooperation in STI by promoting a transformed, inclusive, responsive and coherent NSI in 129 resourceā€leveraging engagements;
  • Develop human capabilities and skills for the economy and development by securing participation opportunities for 978 (326 per annum) South African students in international programmes;
  • Use knowledge for economic development in support of 45 Southern African Development Community (SADC) and African Union (AU) initiatives by revitalising existing industries and stimulating research and developmentā€led industrial development, specifically targeting objectives related to the SADC Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan (RISDP); and
  • Support innovation for a capable state by engaging 36 STI leaders in multilateral forums.

 

  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 2021/22 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 R4.95 billion (55.4%) of the Department’s total allocation. The increase in Programme 4’s budget, once adjusted for inflation, represents a real increase of 26.8% (2.3% real increase in 2020/21 before the two budget adjustments). The significant increases in the allocations to Basic Science and Infrastructure, and Astronomy is driven largely by the ongoing development of the national integrated cyberinfrastructure system, the initiation of the establishment of four large research infrastructures (RI) under the South African Research Infrastructure Roadmap, and the construction of the additional MeerKAT antennae.

 

In terms of economic classification, notable increases in allocations to Travel and subsistence (from R2.9 million to R8.3 million) and Venues and facilities (from R800 000 to R2.4 million) signifies a return to pre-COVID-19 activities. Transfers and subsidies constitute 98.9% (R4.89 billion) of Programme 4’s total budget with the Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf), NRF and CSIR receiving R33.2 million, R3.4 billion and R272.1 million, respectively. Other notable transfers include R829.2 million to Various institutions for Infrastructure projects for R&D, R802.4 million(R456.6 million in 2020/21) for the SKA and R91.6 million (R33.5 million in 2020/21) to Various institutions for Science awareness, research and initiatives to encourage youth participation in science.

 

Strategic initiatives that will receive specific attention include developing a policy framework for the establishment of a South African Research Cloud in line with the National Open Science Policy; implementing the new Transformation and Postgraduate Funding Policies; implementing the reporting framework on postgraduate support across all DSI programmes; expanding the Research Output Submission System to include research outputs of research institutions other than universities; completing the PhD Tracer Study; undertaking a consultative process for the development of an Astro-Tourism Strategy; and reviewing the astronomy institutional landscape with a view to establishing 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 2021/22 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 R1.7 billion of the Department’s total budget allocation, and is the only Programme which receives less than its 2020/21 allocation. Only Sector Innovation and Green Economy, and Science and Technology Investment receive real increases to their allocations; whereas, the allocation to Technology Localisation, Beneficiation and Advanced Manufacturing decreases by R92.1 million. Approximately 96.9% (R1.67 billion) of Programme 5’s budget is allocated to Transfers and subsidies, with the NRF, Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) and CSIR receiving R11 million, R329.6 million and R1.04 billion, respectively.

 

Strategic initiatives that will receive specific attention include strengthening the policy and programme alignment with the Department of Higher Education and Training; expanding the knowledge fields associated with new sources of growth and industrial development priorities; contributing to sector R&D plans; supporting the District Development Model; and strengthening skills for the economy.

 

  1. ENTITIES OF THE DEPARTMENT OF SCIENCE AND INNOVATION

 

The Committee considered the 2021/22 Annual Performance Plans of the CSIR, HSRC and NRF.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. The 2021/22 Parliamentary grants are:

 

1.         Academy of Science of South Africa – R33.2 million

2.         Council for Scientific and Industrial Research – R978.4 million

3.         Human Sciences Research Council – R314.4 million

4.         National Research Foundation – R962.6 million

5.         South African National Space Agency – R202.2 million

6.         Technology Innovation Agency – R447.7 million

 

  1. Council for Scientific and Industrial Research

 

The CSIR’s mandate is to foster, through directed and multidisciplinary research and technological innovation, industrial and scientific development. As such, the CSIR researches, develops, localises and diffuses technologies to accelerate socioeconomic prosperity in South Africa.The CSIR’s Strategy, aligned to priorities contained in the NDP, MTSF, STI White Paper and the ERRP, responds to global and local socioeconomic and technological megatrends and South Africa’s challenges and opportunities. The Strategy defines technology sector clusters that seek to balance scientific and industrial development by amplifying industrial development in priority, high-impact economic sectors through RDI. The Strategy defines priority industries as those industries that:

 

  • Present the greatest potential for socioeconomic impact according to a robust set of economic and social criteria that are both forward looking and reflective of the current status; and
  • To varying extents, dependent on R&D, are amenable to stimulation through innovation, and thus offer opportunities for the CSIR to pursue.

 

To execute the strategy, the CSIR regrouped its RDI activities into nine Technology Sector Clusters. These prioritised industry clusters and their key focus areas are:

 

  • Advanced Agriculture and Food, which innovates to strengthen primary production, agro-processing and advance rural economies.
  • Future Production: Chemicals, which seeks to establish state-of-the-art (bio)-chemistry to drive local pharmaceutical and the broader chemical industries.
  • Next Generation Health, which develops technologies to drive improved health outcomes and patient-centric healthcare delivery.
  • Future Production: Manufacturing, which strengthens the manufacturing value chain to enhance industry competitiveness
  • Future Production: Mining, which supports the growth and revitalisation of the mining industry.
  • Defence and Security, which builds resilient defence and security capabilities to strengthen national security technology capacity.
  • Smart Places, which effects smarter resource use, sustainable economic growth and smart infrastructure and service developments.
  • Smart Mobility, which enables South Africa to have an efficient, effective and integrated logistics sector.
  • Next Generation Enterprises and Institutions, which supports the digitalisation of government, public institutions and the private sector.

 

The CSIR derives its income from contract R&D from the public sector, private sector and international customers; the Parliamentary grant; and royalties and licensing income. The largest portion of the CSIR’s income is contract R&D from the public sector, followed by the Parliamentary grant. It is the intention of the CSIR, as part of its new strategy, to diversify its income sources by particularly increasing income from the private sector, international customers, as well as royalties and licensing.

 

COVID-19 and reductions to the Parliamentary grant have negatively impacted the implementation of the CSIR’s strategy and hampered the CSIR’s ability to invest in the sustainability and development of new capabilities. Despite this, the CSIR has made a significant contribution in supporting the national and private sector response to COVID-19. The CSIR’s planned programmes will support the country’s economic and recovery plan and the 2021/22 operational plan is based on an aggressive growth of collaboration with the private sector in the face of declining public sector income, in order to sustain the CSIR going forward.

 

The CSIR has budgeted for an increase of 9.1% in total operating revenue (R2.9 billion). Contract income and baseline grant funding increase on a comparative basis by 11.2% (R2.1 billion) and 3% (R725.5 million) respectively. Income from the South African public sector and South African private sector is budgeted to increase by 10% and 7.7% respectively, based on secured contracts and current engagements with stakeholders and clients to secure contracts for proposals submitted. International contract income is budgeted to increase by 17.6% as a result of repositioning the CSIR’s value proposition within the international market. Included in contract income from the South African public sector is the Cyberinfrastructure ring-fenced allocation from the DSI. The budgeted investment in property, plant and equipment (PPE) for the 2021/22 financial year is R 122.4 million. The CSIR is committed to investing in infrastructure to contribute to scientific and industrial development objectives, as well as the development of the research campus of the future as guided by the Campus Master Plan (CMP). Currently, funding by National Treasury through the DSI, amounting to R155.2 million (excluding VAT) over three years, is being invested in research infrastructure intended to impact the pharmaceutical, manufacturing, smart mobility and infrastructure industries.

 

The CSIR will continue with wage freezing and budget cuts on goods and services in the 2021/22 financial year and cost containment initiatives (operational efficiencies) will also continue. This will; however, have a negative impact on operations as it would become more difficult to attract and retain talent in a period of prolonged wage freezes.

 

Total expenditure is budgeted to increase in 2021/22 by 10.5% on the 2020/21 forecast, with employee remuneration costs and depreciation budgeted to increase by 10.1% and 23.6% respectively. Operating expenses are expected to increase by 9.2%. Royalty income is budgeted at R2 million and is based on current registered license agreements. The 2021/22 budget indicates a net loss of R96.1 million.

 

  1. Human Sciences Research Council

 

The HSRC’s mandate is to:

 

  • Initiate, undertake and foster strategic basic and applied research in human sciences, and to address developmental challenges in the republic, elsewhere in Africa and in the rest of the world by gathering, analysing and publishing data relevant to such challenges, especially by means of projects linked to public sector oriented collaborative programmes;
  • Inform the effective formulation and monitoring of policy, as well as evaluate the implementation thereof;
  • Stimulate public debate through the effective dissemination of fact-based research results;
  • Help build research capacity and infrastructure for the human sciences;
  • Foster research collaboration, networks and institutional linkages;
  • Respond to the needs of vulnerable and marginalised groups in society through research and analysis of developmental issues, thus contributing to the improvement of the quality of their lives;
  • Develop and make available data sets underpinning research, policy development and public discussion of developmental issues; and
  • Develop new and improved methodologies for use in the development of such data sets.

 

The HSRC will continue its focus on poverty and inequality over the current five-year strategic plan period. Through its vision of being a national, regional and global leader in the production and dissemination of transformative social science and humanities research in the interests of a just and equal society, the HSRC will contribute to addressing the major developmental challenges in South Africa and on the continent. It will use its knowledge-production abilities to support national developmental priorities by:

 

  • Contributing to poverty alleviation;
  • Offering solutions to reduce the inequality gap; and
  • Facilitating innovation around employment creation.

 

The work of the HSRC is structured around two broad programmes; namely, Administration and Research, development and innovation.

 

Programme 1: Administration - Is responsible for the strategic direction and overall management of the HSRC. An Impact Centre was established in 2020 to focus on research use and impact, providing support and mechanisms for collaboration, convening and communicating the HSRC’s work so that it is able to position itself as the flagship for human and social sciences research in the country. A coherent and articulated strategy that helps answer the questions underpinning impact is being combined with a process for making the HSRC’s work more visible. This work informs reporting on a key indicator of the extent to which there is uptake and utilisation of the knowledge produced at the HSRC to create impact in communities. The Administration Programme further provides centralised shared services to support the core research activities and ensure that such activities comply with good governance principles, applicable legislation and funder requirements.

 

Programme 2: Research, development and innovation -Conducts basic and applied research in order to generate and apply knowledge with a distinct social science and humanities focus to support national developmental priorities. It comprises the following sub-programmes:

  • Inclusive economic development
  • Human and social capabilities
  • Developmental, capable and ethical state
  • Africa Institute of South Africa
  • Centre for Science, Innovation and Technology Indicators

 

The HSRC faces the challenge of a limited number of senior researchers, who are required not only to raise funds, but also to implement a range of contract research projects, and reach scholarship targets.

 

As was highlighted in all previous institutional reviews, as well as in a climate survey conducted among all HSRC staff in 2016, the organisation needs to employ more senior researchers on permanent conditions of service to ease the burden of fund raising, and to provide reliable mentoring to its research trainees. Filling of vacancies for senior research staff has been constrained by salary caps implemented by National Treasury and further reductions in the allocation for the Compensation of Employees (CoE). While the appointment of additional, new research staff is not possible to the extent required, opportunities for providing tenure to existing staff are being considered within the framework of enabling organisational policies. The HSRC’s staff complement for 2020/21 was estimated at 502 and is expected to reduce gradually over the next three years, with salary cost adjustments being effected annually in line with inflation and Treasury instructions.

 

The organisation has historically struggled to achieve its transformation targets at senior researcher levels. Resignation data show that black researchers are in demand and are offered very high salaries in the university and private sectors. The HSRC loses its transformation capital when it loses these researchers.

 

The current financial model of the HSRC depends significantly on external funding to support research and the broader mandate of the HSRC. The recently audited ratio of parliamentary funding to external income for the financial year ending 31 March 2020 is 61:39. Given the current economic climate, it is unlikely that the HSRC will be able to grow its external income while public and private funders are under pressure to redirect and reprioritise funding. It is envisaged that even committed funding might be withdrawn as funders are under pressure to redirect money elsewhere. Furthermore, in direct response to the declining Parliamentary grant, the HSRC has for the past two years not offered performance-based bonuses to its staff, nor was it able to afford staff any cost-of-living salary adjustments. In addition, while the filling of critical vacancies is delayed, the mounting pressure to alleviate strain on the salary bill will impede the appointment of additional PhD trainees over the short and medium-term.

 

The HSRC business model and reporting standards comply with requirements set by the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA). While the PFMA intends to provide an enabling, performance-oriented, transparent and accountable business environment for government departments and public entities, some provisions are arguably a better fit for government departments than for entities such as the HSRC. For instance, the PFMA intends to promote a fair, open and transparent procurement process, and Treasury Regulations pertaining to supply chain management and preferential procurement are also clearly intended to promote these principles. However, the constraints placed by the promulgation and interpretation of some Treasury Regulations place a dual burden on the HSRC in terms of its business and funding model. These include:

 

  • Ability to form long-term collaborative and funding relationships: Because of the onus placed on government departments to procure services in the open market, it is very difficult for the HSRC to form long-term relationships with government departments, where the HSRC is able to help inform research strategies and priorities, and also to be appointed to perform or help co-ordinate research intended to deliver on these strategies.
  • Flexibility and dexterity of research partnerships when responding to funding opportunities: The HSRC is expected to follow open and transparent procurement processes when looking for trusted collaborators in research projects. This principle works better when supplies are sourced than when specialised services are sourced. When the HSRC has to respond to competitive funding opportunities at short notice, such a procurement regimen is especially not viable.

 

The HSRC is working with outdated equipment and has no dedicated capital expenditure allocation for infrastructure. Although it has platforms to showcase longitudinal survey information and to share data, these are not state-of-the-art. The extent of the risks around the organisation’s lack of IT infrastructure and resources has been emphasised as staff were required to work from home and as cybersecurity alerts were once again raised globally. The HSRC will increasingly be reliant on IT infrastructure to conduct day-to-day work and deliver on projects.

 

A substantial allocation for IT infrastructure was enabled through retained earnings at the 2019/20 financial year-end, and with the approval of the National Treasury. However, with no capital expenditure allocation or dedicated budget allocation for IT support and infrastructure, this remains a major obstacle.

 

Total revenue for 2021/22 is estimated to be R544.3 million, with the Parliamentary grant constituting 45% of the total revenue. Salaries constitute 51% of the total expenditure. Programme 1 is allocated 43% and Programme 2 is allocated 57% of the total estimated 2021/22 budget.

 

  1. National Research Foundation

 

The NRFcontributes 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.

 

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 NRF is primarily funded by a Parliamentary grant (20%) and contract funding received from the DSI (71%). The balance of funds relates to contract funds from other government departments, entities and private institutions (6%) as well as income generated through sales and interest income (3%). The NRF’s Parliamentary grant has been historically underfunded and is under severe strain from past reductions due to fiscal constraints, ongoing austerity measures and the recent 2020 MTEF reduction of R763 million due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.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.

 

The NRF estimates that its total income will be R4.8 billion for the 2021/22 financial year. Research grants and bursaries at R2.5 billion account for 57% of the total NRF expenditure.

 

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. 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. The recent approval by Cabinet of the draft STI Decadal Plan was welcomed by the Committee.
  2. Noting that the Department has a mandate to deliver on Government’s national priorities, the Committee raised its concern about the evident financial sustainability challenges and declining parliamentary grant (in real terms) and the effect of these on research and innovation output.
  3. The Committee drew particular attention to the impact this would have on the crucial role science and innovation has to the national effort to curb COVID-19 and the expectation to ensure that the country recovers from the impact of COVID-19 and transforms the economy.
  4. 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 transformation framework and postgraduate funding policy), which aim to chart a new trajectory for the future development and enhancement of South African STI.
  5. The Committee expressed its concern that fewer postgraduate students arebeing funded as a result of budget cuts and the policy to support the full-cost of postgraduate studies.
  6. The Committee acknowledges that the mainstreaming of Indigenous Knowledge (IK) has a crucial role to play in contributing to the transformation agenda. They noted thatlimited resources haveresulted in funding being reprioritised from the IK R&D programme to ensure the ongoing implementation of the Protection, Promotion, Development and Management of Indigenous Knowledge Act.
  7. The Committee stressed the importance that science and innovation be inclusive and that they would like to see the enhancement of programmes that support Grassroots Innovations to provide greater opportunities for young people to innovate even if they are not graduates or within the science institutional system.
  8. The Committee encouraged for continued engagement to ensure that expenditure on R&D by the private sector increases.
  9. The Committee noted that the Research and Development Tax Incentive programme would end inOctober 2022 and is hopeful that the Programme will continue beyond this period.
  10. The Committee welcomedthe Department’s efforts to support the District Development Model to ensure that science and innovation enhances service delivery and drives sustainable development. They expressed interest that the Department provide a more detailed brief once the audit about their support in this area had been concluded.
  11. The Committee acknowledged that enhanced coordination where science and innovation issues are transversal is also necessary at Parliamentary level among the various Portfolio and Select Committees and undertook toincrease joint activities with its counterparts in both Houses.
  12. The Committeecommended the Department and its entities for their prominent role in ensuring that science and innovation transforms and drives economic growth and is implemented widely to serve the needs of all South Africans.

 

  1. Council for Scientific and Industrial Research

 

  1. The Committee, impressed by the level and scope of the work undertaken, further encouraged that all programmes should reflect inclusivity and intersectionality.
  2. The Committee expressed concern in relation to the ongoing challenges regarding the impact of procurement regulations on the ability of the CSIR to source contract income from the public sector.
  3. The Committee was concerned about the CSIR’s projected income losses and how these could potentially impact their core functions.
  4. The Committee enquired as to the status of discussions pertaining to developing local vaccine manufacturing and production capacity.

 

  1. Human Sciences Research Council

 

  1. The Committee expressed its approbation that programmes are cognisant of and aligned to national programmes aimed at youth empowerment and development.
  2. The Committee enquired as to the status of establishing the HSRC’s Impact Centre, which it views as crucial to the research enterprise.
  3. The Committee, concerned by the risks to the HSRC’s financial sustainability, enquired as to what the HSRC considers an ideal funding model to optimally execute its mandate.
  4. They were further perturbed about the vacancy rate as well as the imminent further reduction of staff due to lack of funding and the impact this may have on its core functions
  5. The Committee expressed its concern around the decline in certain performance targets due to inadequate resources.

 

  1. National Research Foundation

 

  1. 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.
  2. The Committee expressed its willingness to visit the SKA site and the opportunity to assess the impact of this development on the surrounding communities.
  3. The Committee commended the efforts of the NRF to promote science journalism.
  4. The Committee enquired, in relation to the new postgraduate funding policy and limited resources, how many of the applications for support could not be funded.
  5. The Committee also enquired as to the status of the Leading Researchers and Scholars Programme, and given limited resources, how this would be funded.
  6. The Committee, noting the NRF’s targets to ensure a transformed organisational leadership, enquired what informed the targets set around the demographics and representation of women.
  7. The Committee was also keen to know how the NRF’s Research and Development Information Platform (RDIP) differed from the National Science, Technology and Innovation Information Portal (NSTIIP) managed/hosted by the National Advisory Council on Innovation?

 

  1. COMMITTEE RECOMMENDATIONS

 

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

 

  1. The Minister continues to engage the National Treasury, private sector as well as international partners, for increased funding for the sector.
  2. The Minister continues to engage the National Treasury to review policy regulations around procurement for entities.
  3. The Minister and the Department prioritise discussions with other government departments with STI-intensive mandates,as per Cabinet approval of the Decadal Plan, and that the Committee be updated on the progress in this regard.
  4. The Minister ensures that the Sovereign Innovation Fund comes into effect so that the 1.5% goal of GDP spent on R&D can be realised.
  5. The Departments of Higher Education and Training and Science and Innovation continue their efforts of aligning the work of the two departments in an effort to ensure better coordination and output.
  6. The Minister and the Department prioritise filling key vacancies in the Department to ensure effective delivery on its mandate.
  7. The Department and entities ensure that the existing interventions focussed on increasing R&D expenditure 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 briefing within its future programming.
  8. The Department provide a comprehensive brief to the Committee on how innovation can support economic recovery and reconstruction. The Committee will accommodate this briefing within its futureprogramming.
  9. 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 briefing in its future programming.
  10. The Department provide a comprehensive brief to the Committee on how it supports the District Development Model. The Committee will accommodate this briefing in its future programming.

 

 

 

Report to be considered.

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