The higher education, science and technology minister, Blade Nzimande, has been tasked with putting together a team of scientists to start developing our own vaccines to deal with the Covid-19 pandemic and future pandemics.
President Ramaphosa confirmed this during the response to the 2021 State of the Nation Address Debate in the national assembly yesterday.
The president emphasized that we now live in an era where “pandemics may become more frequent and we must therefore be self-reliant in relation to diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines”.
He added that South Africa must “develop the scientific capabilities that our country has demonstrated to prepare for the future”.
The president also pointed out that the Covid-19 pandemic has exposed inequalities in health care and underscored the value of a National Health Insurance (NHI).
“While the pandemic has further constrained our public finances, in many ways it has also enabled progress towards the NHI”, he said.
The president said that the “COVID-19 pandemic has shown us how to work together to harness the entire capability of all public and private providers for service provision”.
As regards the agriculture and agro-processing sector, the president indicated that investment in the sector will “enable us to fully realise the potential of this great renewable resource”.
However, in order to be successful, agricultural development needs to be aligned with an effective and speeded up land redistribution programme.
The president stressed that land reform and agriculture output must be “complementary and mutually-reinforcing”.
“Providing more land to many more South Africans, along with the means to productively work it, is not only about correcting a past wrong; it is also about building a prosperous and more inclusive future”, he said.
In terms of the mining sector, the president declared that government is working with the industry to “promote renewed investment through a conducive policy and regulatory framework”.
Included are efforts to reduce current timeframes for mining, prospecting, water and environmental licences.
The president also confirmed that the mineral resources and energy department has drafted an exploration programme implementation plan to boost expansion of the industry.
In the realm of renewable energy, the president confirmed that government and its partners are ready to move from research and development to manufacturing and development in terms of hydrogen and fuel cell technologies.
A Platinum Valley is to be set up as an “industrial cluster bringing various hydrogen applications in the country together to form an integrated hydrogen ecosystem”.
Project opportunities for kick-starting hydrogen cell manufacturing in promising hubs will be identified.