Department of Science and Innovation
The National System of Innovation (NSI) has laid a solid foundation for the future.
The higher education, science and innovation minister, Dr Blade Nzimande, highlighted this in an address at the launch of the 2022 South African Science, Technology and Innovation Indicators Report.
The minister, however, cautioned that the NSI “remains fragmented across government and between business, academia and civil society”.
It also continues to be significantly underfunded, and the participation of black people and women at senior level such as professors remains too low.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has stretched the NSI to its limits, revealing areas that need strengthening to improve the country’s resilience and preparedness for future crises”, he said.
The minister pointed out that South Africa’s innovation performance is falling behind other middle-income countries with regard to outputs such as patents and high technology exports.
In response to the challenges, the minister indicated that the science and innovation department and its agencies, guided by the 2019 White Paper on Science, Technology and Innovation (STI), will be “furthering the role of the STI in economic and social development, emphasising inclusivity, transformation and partnerships”.
The White Paper on the STI will be implemented via the Decadal Plan approved by cabinet in March 2021 to serve as a government-wide Master Plan.
“The Plan emphasises four societal grand challenges of climate change, future-proofing education and skills; re-industrialising our modern economy, as well as two STI priorities on health innovation and energy innovation”, he said.
The minister announced that he will be chairing a standing ministerial-level STI Structure in order to consolidate STI programmes and budget processes.
An annual STI Plenary including business, government, academia and civil society is also to be set up.