ATC210602: Report of the Select Committee on Education and Technology, Sport, Arts and Culture on Budget Vote 35: Science and Innovation (2021/22), dated 02 June 2021
NCOP Education and Technology, Sports, Arts and Culture
Report of the Select Committee on Education and Technology, Sport, Arts and Culture on Budget Vote 35: Science and Innovation (2021/22), dated 02 June 2021
The Select Committee on Education, Technology, Sport, Arts and Culture(hereinafter referred to as the Committee), having considered Budget Vote 35: Science and Innovation, the revised 2020-2025 Strategic Plan and the 2021/22 Annual Performance Plan (APP) of the Department of Science and Innovation (hereinafter referred to as the Department), reports as follows:
1.1. Purpose of the Budget Vote 35 Report
The purpose of this report is to account for work done by the Committee in considering the revised 2020 - 2025 Strategic Plan and 2021/22 Annual Performance Plan (APP) and budget of the Department in accordance with Section 27(1) of the Public Finance Management Act, 1999 (Act. No 29 of 1999), and as referred by the Chairperson of the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) to the Committee in terms of Rule 338 for consideration and reporting.
The revised 2020 - 25 Strategic Plan, 2021/22 APP as well as budget of the Department was considered against the background of key government policy documents, including, amongst others, the National Development Plan (NDP), the 2019 – 2024 Medium Term Strategic Framework (MTSF), and the 2020 State of the Nation Address (SONA). The Committee had a briefing sessionto consider the Strategic Plans and the APP of the Department on 19 May 2021.
1.3. Mandate of Committee and the Department
The mandate of Parliament is based on the provisions of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996, establishing Parliament and setting out the functions it performs. Parliament’s role and outcomes are to represent the people and ensure government by the people under the Constitution, as well as to represent the provinces and local government in the national sphere of government. The main functions of Parliament as outlined in the Constitution are:
- To pass legislation,
- To oversee executive action,
- Facilitation of public involvement, co-operative government and,
- International engagement.
The Department’s mandate is to generate knowledge for the utilisation of economic and social development.The Department derives its mandate from the following:
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.
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.
2. Overview and assessment ofthe Department’s 2020/2025 Strategic Plan
2.1. Overview by the Minister
The Minister of Higher Education, Science and Technology, Dr BEB Nzimande, in bringing context to the Department’s 2021/22 APP, reminded the Committee that the DSI and the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) were brought together under one ministry under the sixth administration. By so doing, the hope was that South Africans would receive much better coordinated and cost-effective services. In support of South Africa’s (SA's) economic recovery plan, the two departments had developed Skills development and Science and Innovation strategies which were presented to the Cabinet Lekgotla in January. This would enable the Department to positively respond to what was required to develop the economy during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Guided by the vision contained in the National Development Plan (NDP), the 2021/22 APP was the third APP for the implementation of the 2020-2025 strategic plan of the Department. When the Department's strategic plan was tabled in Parliament in 2019, Cabinet had just approved the 2019 White Paper on Science, Technology and Innovation, and work on the Decadal Plan was under way after the adoption of the White Paper. The Minister reminded the Committee that he had said he would review the strategic plan after the finalization of the Decadal Plan. He thus informed the Committee that Cabinet had recently approved the Decadal Plan. He indicated that work was already in progress for setting up the two government structures provided in the White Paper; the annual Science, Technology and Innovation plenary, which was a stakeholder body representing government and other stakeholders, convened by President Cyril Ramaphosa; and the inter-ministerial committee on Science, Technology and Innovation (STI). The overall aim of these structures was to enhance the responsiveness of the National System of Innovations (NSI) to the country’s social and economic challenges, and to improve the coordination of STI matters across all government levels.
It was expected that the current strategic plan would be comprehensively reviewed during the current planning cycle, meaning that the 2021/22 APP that was being presented to the Committee would be the last one to be based entirely on the original 2020-2025 strategic plan. The NSI's responsiveness to the COVID-19 pandemic provided an important background to the Department’s APP, because it was informed by the lessons learnt from the previous financial year.The global pandemic had made the role of STI very significant for South Africa. Despite a relatively small budget, the Department had invested in infrastructure to enable world class research in areas such as genomics, epidemiology, vaccine manufacturing and so forth. The Department had also invested in human resource (HR) development to ensure a plan of knowledge workers to advance the country’s scientific endeavors. The HR development strategy was inclined towards affirming black people, women and supporting young people, so that the demographic of the scientific community improved and thus continued transformation.
The investments and talents of the NSI had seen the country produce premier science that was also contributing to the global body of knowledge of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Minister reported that local scientists had detected a new corona virus variant (501YV2), which had several mutations that increased the ability for the virus to infect humans and potentially enabled the virus to escape certain vaccines. To ensure the completion of the sequencing of 10 000 COVID-19 genomes in SA and Africa, the Department was investing a further R25 million towards this noble work. Such work was crucial in shaping the country’s ongoing responses to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Department had also invested R69.4 million in COVID-19 research and innovation which covered 21 projects. Notable among them was the first plant-based manufacturing of anti-bodies for COVID-19 study, which seeks to utilise various plant-based platforms to facilitate the rapid development of vaccine candidates that were putting antibodies and diagnostic reagents against what was called Sars COVID-2.
To ensure that the NSI was transformed, inclusive, responsive, and coherent, historically disadvantaged universities and individuals would receive targeted development funding support to ensure that they too contribute to the research and knowledge enterprise. This included the implementation of the new postgraduate funding policy that provides full support for financially disadvantaged students, students with disability, and students with exceptional academic achievements. The Minister proudly indicated that female representation in the NSI scientific workforce had increased to 46%, which was remarkable for gender equity in the STI space. The Department would also support the development of critical high-end skills in selected technology areas such as the bio-economy, space science, technology energy, intellectual property management, etc. Support would also be directed towards technical development and the artisan skills that would contribute to the deployment of newly developed innovations.
The Department was a national department, and therefore did not have a provincial/ local footprint in terms of structures, and this may at times create a challenge for national STI interventions. However, through the Regional Innovations Support (RIS) programme, the Department was contributing to the development of innovation ecosystems in various regions of the country. In this regard, the Department was engaged in a concerted effort to increase their spatial footprint of innovation support to enable localized and regional socio-economic development. The Department would be studying provincial growth and development, and local economic development strategies to enable better alignment with its innovation support interventions, particularly the district development model (DDM).
The Minister urged the Committee to also focus its oversight on the role of STI in both the public and private spheres in DDM programmes. This was where the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) could significantly enhance its own role in the Department’s NSI. In this regard, the Department would be piloting technologies that facilitate service delivery to ensure appropriate technology deployment for waste and water management, housing and sanitation, and energy provision etc. The Department would also prioritise and develop capacity to use 5G and other wireless technologies optimally, to enable the state and citizens to take advantage of digital economy opportunities.
2.2. The 2020-2025 Strategic Plan
The Department has tabled a Revised 2020 – 2025 Strategic Plan. This was necessitated by the updated 2019-2024 MTSF. South Africa like many world countries has experienced the COVID-19 pandemic which had an adverse socio-economic impact. In South Africa, the pandemic had exacerbated the already weak economic growth and further strained the country’s fiscus. Government has put in place plans for economic recovery, for example, the pronouncement of the Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan (ERRP). The Plan stresses the skills development, science and innovation as not only critical in driving South Africa’s economic reconstruction and recovery post-pandemic but also key in sustaining it.
The revised 2019-2024 MTSF has maintained the seven Apex Priorities as derived from the electoral mandate and the President’s State of the Nation Address. However, the priorities have been re-arranged. Education, Skills and Health was Priority 3 and has been moved to Priority 3. Of importance to note is that Priority 6: Capable, Ethical and Development has been moved to be Priority 1. Additionally, the revised MTSF stresses improved coordination, integrated planning and efficiency of service delivery to ensure medium to long-term recovery and inclusive development. President Ramaphosa in his foreword in the MTSF document notes that the Sixth Government Administration is giving priority to integrated planning, implementation, accountability and service delivery. It is also committed to consequence management for non-performance and non-delivery.
In response to the call by the President for economic recovery, the Department has introduced a new indicator under Programme 5. The funds to implement this indicator titled “Number of Presidential Youth Employment Initiative (PYEI) beneficiaries” are separate to the Department’s allocation. An amount of R67,811,773 has been tentatively secured from the Presidency for the 2020/21 financial year towards this indicator linked to the PYEI.
In recognition of innovation as a strategic enabler in improved service delivery and access to government services, the Department has also introduced a new performance outcome aimed at expanding the use of innovation in building a more responsive and capable developmental state.
3. 2021/22 Medium-Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) Budget: Vote 35
The President stated in the 2021 State of the Nation Address (SONA) 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 businessesmaintain their operations. This enabled parts of the economy and society to continue working; thereby,mitigating the impacts of the pandemic. It has also exacerbated the great inequalities that exist amongsocieties.
The pandemic has emphasised the importance of science and innovationto both prepare for and react to future crises, and has highlighted the need to ensure that STI policies directRDI efforts towards achieving socio-economic and environmental sustainability, inclusivity and resilience.The 2021 Budget is framed by the two policy objectives set out in the 2020 Medium Term Budget PolicyStatement (MTBPS), which are to promote economic recovery and return public finances to a sustainableposition. Hence, fiscal policy continues to focus on short-term economic support, pro-growth fiscalconsolidation and debt stabilisation.
The 2021 Budget proposes total consolidated spending of R2.02trillion, with 56.8% of allocations going to learning and culture (R402.9 billion), health (R248.8 billion) andsocial development (R335.3 billion). Rising debt-service costs consume R269.7 billion, or 13.4% of thebudget.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. Overthe medium term, the Department has set aside R5.3 billion to scale up interventions supporting the localproduction of ventilators, nano-satellites, hydrogen fuel cell technologies, and renewable energy R&D andpilots such as the KwaZulu-Natal Research Innovation and Sequencing Platforms (KRISP). Furthermore, theDepartment and National Treasury will publish, in 2021, a discussion paper inviting public comment on thefuture of the Research and Development Tax Incentive, which expires on 1 October 2022. In relation topublic-sector infrastructure, the Space Infrastructure Hub, allocated R4.5 billion sourced through thePresident’s sustainable infrastructure development symposium, ito support a South African National Space Agency(SANSA) programme that aims to use space data as a tool for national development and supportingcommercial uses in areas such as remote sensing, navigation and space sciences. The hub will allow for thedevelopment of satellite infrastructure, satellite-based augmentation systems and earth observationsatellites.
Over the medium-term, the Department will focus on producing new knowledge; generating and exploitingknowledge and innovation for inclusive economic development; health care innovation; developing humancapital; developing infrastructure; and championing innovation in the energy sector. The Department’sallocation, over the medium term, is expected to increase at an average annual rate of 8.3% from R7.3billion in 2020/21 to R9.2 billion in 2023/24. For this period, R25.6 billion is allocated for Transfers toentities for investment in key focus areas.However, over the medium term, Cabinet approved budget reductions of R1.7 billion, which has beeneffected on compensation of employees (natural attrition and not filling vacant posts); selected goods andservices items; and transfers to public entities.
The Department’s 2021/22 budget allocation increases from R7.3 billion in the 2020/21 financial year toR8.9 billion. This represents, when adjusted for inflation, a real increase of 17.8% and closelyreturns the Department’s allocation to what it was in 2020 (R8.8 billion) before the budget cuts to meetthe needs of the national COVID-19 response. In terms of economic classification, the apportionment ofthe Department’s 2021/22 budget allocation of R8.9 billion remains the same as in previous years andcomprises Current payments of R566.5 million (6.3%), Transfers and subsidies of R8.4 billion (93.6%), whichincreases from R6.8 billion in 2020/21, and Payments for capital assets of R2.9 million (0.03%).
Notable changes in allocations include:
Goods and services:
- The allocation for Consultants: Business and advisory services increases from R13.6 million toR21.8 million.
- The allocation for Travel and subsistence increases to pre-2020 levels, from R19.2 million toR60.6 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 usepublicly funded IP.
- The allocation for Science awareness and initiatives to encourage youth participation in scienceincreases from R33.5 million to R91.6 million.
- The allocation for the Square Kilometre Array’s (SKA) capital contribution to research increasesfrom R456.6 million to R802.4 million. This is driven by the additional 20 antennae that will beadded 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 R272.1million. This is the next tranche of funding to enhance the National IntegratedCyberinfrastructure 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 AfricanResearch Infrastructure Roadmap).
- Human capital development in designated areas of advanced manufacturing, aerospace, chemicals,mining, advanced manufacturing, ICTs and the Industry Innovation Programme, including the SectorInnovation 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 focusesmore strongly on innovation activities.
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.
3.1. Programme analysis
The Department’s budget funds five programmes, namely:
- Programme 1: Administration
- Programme 2: Technology Innovation
- Programme 3: International Cooperation and Resources
- Programme 4: Research, Development and Support
- Programme 5: Socioeconomic 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. Programmes 2, 4 and 5 that are responsible for these key STI programmes as tabulated below including their purposes and funding allocation to deliver on the targets as set under each programme.
Table 1: DSI Programmes and budget allocation for 2021/22
No. of targets per programme
Programme 1: Administration
To provide strategic policy and planning alignment, ensure effective governance, risk management, and monitoring and evaluation (M&E) within DSI and among entities, and provide strategic science communication and branding of the activities of the DSI, its entities and the national system of innovation (NSI).
Programme 2: Technology Innovation
To promote technology development and the protection and utilisation of publicly funded intellectual property for innovation with socio-economic impact.
Programme 3: International Cooperation and Resources
To develop, promote and manage international partnerships that strengthen the national system of innovation (NSI) and enable the exchange of knowledge, capacity, innovation and resources between South Africa and its international partners, particularly in Africa, in support of South African foreign policy through science, knowledge and innovation diplomacy.
Programme 4: Research Development and Support
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.
Programme 5:Socio-economic Innovation Partnerships
To enhance the growth and development priorities of government through targeted S&T-based innovation interventions and the development of strategic partnerships with other government departments, industry, research institutions and communities and the provision of statistics and analysis for purposes of system-level monitoring and evaluation.
Sources:Estimates of National Expenditure (ENE) 2021 and DSI APP 2021/22
3.1.1. Programme 1: Administration
This programme provides strategic policy and planning alignment, ensure effective governance, risk management, and monitoring and evaluation (M&E) within DSI and among entities, and provide strategic science communication and branding of the activities of the DSI, its entities and the national system of innovation (NSI). There are six targets set for the 2021/22 financial year. The total budget allocation for this programme is R328.2 million including transfers to department agencies and payments for capital assets.
For the 2021 MTEF period, Programme 1 has four sub-programmes:
- Sub-Programme 1: Ministry;
- Sub-Programme 2: Institutional Planning and Support;
- Sub-Programme 3: Corporate Services; and
- Sub-Programme 4: Office Accommodation
For 2021 MTEF, the branch aims to ensure that:
- DSI public entities’ 2021/22 Annual Performance Plans (National Research Foundation (NRF); Human Science Research Council (HSRC); Technology Innovation Agency (TIA); South African National Space Agency (SANSA); National Advisory Council of Innovation (NACI); South African Council for Natural Scientific Professions (SACNASP); Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAF) and Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) shareholder compact signed by the Minister and Chairpersons of the board by 31 March 2022;
- 85% of all approved funded positions filled by 31 March 2022;
- Unqualified audit opinion with no financial matters in the audit report from the Auditor- General by 30 September 2021;
- Six platforms (print, broadcast, online, media liaison, stakeholder engagement and social media) to profile the DSI and its entities by 31 March 2021;
- Two National thematic campaigns report on the branding roll-out initiatives by 31 March 2022; and
- Special focus will be to ensure that the Decadal plan finalised and approved by Cabinet by 30 June 2021.
Spending over the medium-term is projected to grow by 3.1 per cent with the following spending projections: the budget for compensation of employees will decrease by 0.3%, while goods and services and travel and subsistence will grow by 8.4 per cent and 46 per cent respectively.
3.1.2. Programme 2: Technology Innovation
This programme promotes technology development and the protection and utilisation of publicly funded intellectual property for innovation with socio-economic impact. There are 15 targets set for the 2021/22 financial year. The total budget allocation for this programme is R1 780.2 billion.
For the 2021 MTEF period, Programme 2 has six sub-programmes:
- Sub-Programme 1 Space Science;
- Sub-Programme 2: Hydrogen and Energy;
- Sub-Programme 3: Bio-innovation;
- Sub-Programme 4: Innovation Priorities and Instruments;
- Sub-Programme 5: National Intellectual Property Management Office; and
- Sub-Programme 6: Office of the Deputy Director-General: Technology Innovation.
For the MTEF, Programme 2 in its quest to provide strategic direction in the development, the branch’s focus will initiate the following policy pieces: Innovation Fund (previously called the Sovereign Innovation Fund) to support the commercialisation of locally developed IP; the amendment of the Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) Act; Institutional Review of TIA and SANSA; Business case for commercial space launch capability in South Africa and Hydrogen Society Roadmap;
For 2021 MTEF, the branch aims to ensure that:
- 2 decision-support tools developed by 31 March 2022;
- 8 strategic and technical engagements with SANSA and TIA to align the national priorities by 31 March 2022 (Non-Cumulative target);
- 3 new Products and/or Services developed (linked to High Frequency Propagation and/or Global Navigation Satellite System applications) by 31 March 2022 (Cumulative target);
- Launch of 3 CubeSats for MDASat constellation by 30 December 2021 (Non-cumulative target);
- 190 of postgraduate students (master’s and doctoral) supported in designated energy, space, Innovation Priorities and Instruments and bio-economy areas by 31 March 2022 (Non-cumulative target);
- 20 artisans and/or technicians trained in space, energy and bio-economy by 31 March 2022 (Non-cumulative target).
Spending over the medium term is projected to grow by 9.2 per cent with the following spending projections: the budget for compensation of employees will decrease by 0.3 per cent, while goods and services, agency and support/outsourced services, travel and subsistence and entertainment will grow by 24.5 per cent, 25.1 per cent, 41.5 per cent and 86 per cent respectively.
3.1.3. Programme 3: International Cooperation and Resources
This programme is responsible to develop, promote and manage international partnerships that strengthen the national system of innovation (NSI) and enable the exchange of knowledge, capacity, innovation and resources between South Africa and its international partners, particularly in Africa, in support of South African foreign policy through science, knowledge and innovation diplomacy. There are 9 targets set for the 2021/22 financial year. The total budget allocation for this programme is R146.6 million.
For the 2021 MTEF period, Programme 3 has four sub-programmes:
- Sub-Programme 1: Multilateral Cooperation and Africa;
- Sub-Programme 2: International Resources;
- Sub-Programme 3: Overseas Bilateral Cooperation; and
- Sub-Programme 4: Office of the Deputy Director-General: International Cooperation and Resources;
For the MTEF, Programme 3 will focus on developing and coordinating policies and regulatory frameworks to steer an African Strategy and European Union (EU) engagements.
For the 2021 MTEF, the branch aims to ensure that:
- 43 dedicated international resource-leveraging engagements undertaken by 31 March 2022 (Non-cumulative target);
- 326 new South African students participating in international training programmes as part of cooperation initiatives facilitated by DSI by 31 March 2022 (Non-cumulative target);
- 32 capacity-building initiatives for international cooperation specifically targeting historically; disadvantaged institutions and individuals by 31 March 2022 (Non-cumulative target);
- 34 international policy dialogues and technical exchanges the policy intents of the White Paper on STI by 31 March 2022(Non-cumulative target);
- 15 new STI initiatives supporting Agenda 2063 by 31 March 2022 (Non-cumulative target);
- 17 new STI initiatives supported targeting the objectives of the Southern African Development Community Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan (SADC RISDP) by 31 March 2022 (Non-cumulative target).
Spending over the medium term is projected to grow by 8.6 per cent, with the following spending projections: the budget for compensation of employees will decrease by 0.3 per cent, with an increase of 80.8 per cent for goods and services, 122.1 per cent of agency and support/outsourced services, 181.6 per cent of travel and subsistence and 228.3 per cent of venues and facilities.
3.1.4. Programme 4: Research Development and Support
This programme provides 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. There are 13 targets set for the 2021/22 financial year. The total budget allocation for this programme is R4 949.2 billion.
For the 2021 MTEF period, Programme 4 has five sub-programmes:
- Sub-Programme 1: Human Capital and Science Promotions;
- Sub-Programme 2: Science Missions;
- Sub-Programme 3: Basic Science and Infrastructure;
- Sub-Programme 4: Astronomy; and
- Sub-Programme 5: Office of the Deputy Director-General: Research, Development and Support;
For the MTEF, Programme 4 will continue to plan and develop the policy initiatives that seek to address: National Open Science Policy; Recognition of research outputs produced by research institutions (excluding universities); DSI/NRF Postgraduate Funding Policy; Reporting on postgraduate support across all DSI Programmes; PhD Tracer study; Astro-tourism strategy and Astronomy institute.
For 2021 MTEF, the branch aims to ensure that:
- 2 000 PhD students awarded bursaries annually as reflected in the reports from the NRF and other relevant entities by 31 March 2022 (Cumulative target);
- 200 pipeline postgraduate students awarded bursaries annually as reflected in the reports from the NRF and other relevant entities by 31 March 2022 (Cumulative target);
- 750 graduates and students placed in DSI-funded work preparation programmes in Science, Engineering, Technology and Innovation (SETI) institutions by 31 March 2022 (Cumulative target);
- 25 research infrastructure grants awarded by 31 March 2022 (Non-cumulative target);
- 5 800 gigabits per second (Gbps) total available broadband capacity provided by SANReN by 31 March 2022 (Non-cumulative target).
The spending over the medium term is projected to grow by 11.5 per cent, with the following spending projections: the budget for compensation of employees will decrease by 0.3 per cent, while spending on goods and services, administrative fees, travel and subsistence and venues and facilities will increase by 24.1 per cent, 34,9 per cent, 42.6 per cent and 46.4 per cent respectively.
3.1.5. Programme 5: Socio-economic Innovation Partnerships
This programme aims to enhance the growth and development priorities of government through targeted S&T-based innovation interventions and the development of strategic partnerships with other government departments, industry, research institutions and communities and the provision of statistics and analysis for purposes of system-level monitoring and evaluation. There are 10 targets set for 2021/22 financial year. The total budget allocation for this programme is R1 729.0 billion.
For the 2021 MTEF period, Programme 5 has five sub-programmes:
- Sub-Programme 1: Sector Innovation and Green Economy;
- Sub-Programme 2: Innovation for Inclusive Development;
- Sub-Programme 3: Science and Technology Investment;
- Sub-Programme 4: Technology Localisation, Beneficiation and Advanced Manufacturing; and
- Sub-Programme 5: Office of the Deputy Director-General: Socioeconomic Innovation Partnership.
For the 2021 MTEF, Programme 5 will continue to plan and develop the policy initiatives that seek to: Improve inclusion and build more linkages across the NSI (White Paper Policy Intent 3.2); enhance policy coherence and programme coordination in the NSI (White Paper Policy Intent 3.3; expand the NSI – Expansion of the scientific knowledge base of the NSI (White Paper Policy Intent 3.5); Upgrade M&E and policy capacity (White Paper Policy Intent 3.6); Adopt a broader conceptualisation of innovation beyond R&D (White Paper Policy Intent 4.3) and Use public procurement as a vehicle to further innovation (White Paper Policy Intent 4.5).
For the 2021 MTEF, the branch aims to ensure that:
- 4 knowledge products on innovation for inclusive development published by 31 March 2022
- (Cumulative target);
- 6 decision-support systems introduced, maintained and improved by 31 March 2022 (Cumulative target);
- 3 learning interventions (seminars/policy round tables) hosted by 31 March 2022 (Cumulative target);
- 392 high-level research students (of which 57 at PhD level) fully funded or co-funded in designated niche areas (advanced manufacturing, aerospace, chemicals, mining, advanced
- metals, ICTs, the Industry Innovation Programme – incl. SIF, and green economy) by 31 March 2022 (Non-cumulative target;
- 60 industrially relevant knowledge and innovation products (patents, prototypes, technology demonstrators or technology transfer packages) added to the industrial development and green economy IP portfolio by 31 March 2022 (Cumulative target).
Spending over the medium term is projected to grow by 0.8 per cent, with the following projections: the budget for compensation of employees will decline by 0.3 per cent, while goods and services, consultants: business and advisory services and travel and subsistence will grow by 12.1 per cent, 16.4 per cent and 23.8 per cent respectively.
3.2. 2021/22 Infrastructure Projects
The Department’s 2021/22 infrastructure projects include the following:
- The Square Kilometer Array (SKA);
- South African Research Infrastructure Roadmap (SARIR); and
- The National Integrated Cyberinfrastructure System (NICIS).
The STI interventions footprint include:
- The construction of the SKA project in Northern Cape;
- The school -based science engagement initiative in all provinces;
- The National Recordal System (NRS) initiatives in the Free State, KwaZulu-Natal, Gauteng, Limpopo, Mpumalanga, the Northern Cape and Western Cape;
- The Hydrogen South Africa (HySA) project in North West, Western Cape and Gauteng;
- IP Wise awareness sessions in all provinces;
- Abio-refinery in Kwazulu-Natal;
- The Precision Agriculture Information System (PAIS) project in Limpopo, and in negotiations with the Eastern Cape;
- The Agricultural Bio-innovation Partnership Programme (ABIPP) projects in all provinces;
- An Indigenous Knowledge-Based Bio-Innovation Programme project in all provinces except the Northern Cape; and
- A Strategic Health Initiative partnership project sin all provinces.
The Department has embarked on mapping all initiatives as part of the DDM journey, and this work is in progress. It has four DDM Impact areas, life changing opportunities; economic competitiveness and recovery; access to basic services and infrastructure; and societal problems, challenges and decision support.
4. Committees Deliberations
4.1. The Committee, having considered and deliberated on the Revised Strategic Plans 2020 – 2025 and Annual Performance Plans 2021/22 of the Department of Science and Innovation made the following key observations and findings:
- Members welcomed the information provided and acknowledged the important work that the Department continued to do.
- Considering the approaching COVID-19 third wave, would one be seeing a complete vaccine roll out and perhaps see most of population vaccinated by winter through SA's own vaccine development and research. Members raised a concern regarding the serious budget cuts for research, especially for intellectual property (IP) management.
- Members commended the research efforts put in by the CSIR and the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) during the COVID-19 pandemic. They noted that the pandemic had raised the profile of research and knowledge management within the Department.
- The Committee also expressed a concern with the fact that the Department had been historically underfunded. Members saw the Department’s research work as very important, however, due to underfunding, the Department failed to effectively implement the mandate of taking that research and developing it further. An example given was that, SA had found the new corona virus variant, but could not take this research further, and thus could not positively contribute towards creating a suitable vaccine in the country. Even though it had been indicated that it was work in progress, Members emphasised that SA needed to take important research further and develop its own capacity to manufacture COVID-19 vaccines.
- Members wanted to know the Department’s plan to assist the 392 high-end level skills research students and what kind of research would these students do. The Department had earmarked 57 PhD level students and a question raised was whether there were any higher learning institutions which had been earmarked, and if so, which ones. Also, how would the programmes be rolled out for students to be informed about these opportunities and whether technical and vocational education and training (TVET) colleges would benefit from this research.
- The Committee appreciated the fact that people in the provinces would be presented with job opportunities through the various projects in those provinces.
- Members wanted to know how far from completion was the SKA project and which higher learning institutions was the project in collaboration with.
- Members requested progress on the draft Decadal Plan.
- Members enquired why there was a budget increase for the allocation of venues and facilities in programme 3.
4.2. Responses by the Department
The Department gave the following responses:
- The Minister indicated that the President had asked him to develop the capacity to develop vaccines, not only for COVID-19, but for other diseases and potential pandemics, as the Department had distinguished scientists and the scientific infrastructure to enable this. There was therefore an inter-ministerial committee on vaccines, led by Deputy President David Mabuza, and one of the work streams was precisely the local development of vaccines. There were several dimensions to the development of local vaccines, which would be explained in detail in the presentation. The Department had started the process of identifying the capacity they had for local manufacturing in SA. There was an entity called Biovac, which was a company 47.5% owned by the government. Biovac had the capacity to complete the last stage in vaccine production called “filling and finishing.” The Department aimed to develop a higher capacity for vaccine production which they were exploring using Biovac and going beyond, like entering partnerships with America, France, Germany, Cuba, and the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and SA) countries. These partnerships would, however, require additional resources and investment into research and development. The budget cuts had had a negative impact, but the Department’s strategy was now to use partnerships to access resources. SA had a large capacity and was already producing South African-developed vaccines, and acted as the storage facility and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines. The Minister would call on the various scientists who were involved in the vaccine production, to begin talks to take off on this very important work.
- The research grants were a co-business of the National Research Foundation (NRF). The Department supported a lot of students at the post-graduate level, with approximately 2 000 students at the PhD level and a substantial number of students at the honours and master’s level. The scholarships were offered and advertised as free-standing scholarships for which students should make applications. There were also a variety of instruments available for research students, such as Centres of Excellence and Research Chairs which had students attached to their programmes.
- The Department had started engaging in discussions with the DHET on how to align the value chain from the TVET colleges into the PhD programmes. Very advanced work had gone into this, being led by the Deputy Director-General, Mr Imraan Patel. The Department was working on integrating TVET colleges into the value chain for the whole system to benefit from their areas of specialization.
- The Department was happy to report that the first part of the SKA project, the MeerKAT, which was a South African project with antennas, had just been completed. The MeerKAT work was being taken as a foundation to begin with the first phase of the SKA project. The administration arrangement and structure was in place, and the first phase would begin to be implemented with the participation of all the partners. With the antennas already in place, new partners had come and were contributing to expanding the already existing numbers by 20, providing a broad base on which the SKA global project would be built.
- The Department was extremely cautious when it came to the investment of public resources in budget items such as venues and facilities. It had been reflected as an increase for the 2021/22 financial year because most of the funds were cut from the previous financial year's budget due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Then, towards the end of the year, the Department had been able to organize events which were crucial, such as the Science Forum to promote international partnerships and foreign investment etc. The Department had thus budgeted to organize such events, which mostly required face to face interactions with international partners. It therefore reflected as an increase because in the previous financial year, that budget allocation had been cut, it was not an overall increase compared to the previous financial year's spending patterns.
- The NRF would support free-standing bursaries in any areas that students might be interested in. However, some of the identified areas of priority were key areas that the Department felt the country needed to develop in, and each of these programmes also allocated a third of their funding to the institutions doing research in these areas to support students. The Department ensured that all the different universities develop the students’ capabilities in these high-end skills.
- There were several universities, like Sol Plaatje University, Witwatersrand University (Wits) and the University of Cape Town (UCT) doing research as part of astronomy-related work in the SKA project. The process to build the global SKA was delayed by the pandemic, and the next phase of building the 133 dishes would start early next year.
- The document for the Decadal Plan had been signed off in the Cabinet meeting the Minister had referred to, and had involved consultations with the Department. The consultations were happening now with each DDG from the relevant departments, and should conclude by the end of July/early August, with Cabinet then endorsing this as a government-supported plan by ministries led by the DHET and DSI. The Department would then start the process of amending the strategic plan between August and October for the elements of the Decadal Plan to be reflected in the next financial year’s APP.
- Through the Decadal Plan, the Department hoped to get more support for co-financing from other departments, like the Department of Trade and the Department of Mineral Resources, for some initiatives that would make it possible for activities to be transferred into the marketplace.
- The Department suggested that the Committee invite them back to share the processes concluded in September, if the consultation was completed in July/ August. The Department agreed that co-financing of activities and more funding was crucial. The Department had been working with Treasury to amend the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA) and the Procurement Act to accommodate the procurement by government on locally-developed innovations. All of this would become clearer when these consultations and agreements had been concluded around July/August.
Having satisfied itself in its engagement with the Department of Science and Innovation on their Annual Performance Plan and the Budget, the Select Committee on Education and Technology, Sport, Arts and Culture recommends that Budget Vote 35: Department of Science and Innovation be adopted and that the House approves Budget Vote 35: Science and Innovation.
Report to be considered.
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