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White Paper on STI Under the Spotlight

May 19, 2022

Department of Science and Innovation

The science and innovation departmentā€™s 2022 Budget Vote is guided by the 2019 White Paper on Science, Technology and Innovation and the Decadal Plan approved for implementation by Cabinet in March 2021.

The science and innovation minister, Dr Blade Nzimande, highlighted this during the Budget Vote speech in parliament.

Key focus areas for the department in 2022 include supporting the ā€œEconomic Reconstruction and Recovery Programme (ERRP), building long-term national capacity to deal with COVID-19 and future pandemic threats, securing higher levels of public and private investment in South African RDI, supporting revitalisation of existing sectors/industries, the exploitation of new sources of economic growth, building of a capable state, and support for inclusive education and skills developmentā€.

The minister pointed out the digital economy is one area to which resources are going to be channeled.

The National Skills Fund has also been instructed to prioritise training in digital skills, in particular for the youth.

According to the minister, six foundational digital domains have been identified on which resources will be focused for the next ten years.

ā€œThese domains include artificial intelligence, robotics and cybernetics; augmented, virtual and mixed reality; modelling and simulation; blockchain and cybersecurity; the Internet of Things, cloud-to-edge computing and networking and quantum computing.ā€

A business case is also being developed for the setting up of a ā€œnational solar research facility that will support the development, commercialisation and deployment of solar-based technologies for application in both the solar power and fuel sectors in order to facilitate the movement of technologies from laboratory to marketā€.

In his Budget Vote speech, the deputy minister of science and innovation, Buti Manamela, declared that science, technology and innovation must be used to ā€œadvance socio-economic transformation and the development of previously marginalised indigenous knowledge formsā€.

He added that the implementation of the Protection, Promotion, Development and Management of Indigenous Knowledge Act of 2019 will lead to the development of new policy initiatives.

A special services delivery unit will be set up to serve as the authority regulating the IKS sector.

ā€œOne of the most important developments in this regard is the setting up of institutional units for the recognition of prior learning in IKS disciplines. This will be a novel contribution by our Department for developing that indigenous knowledge that reside outside the formal system of learningā€, he said.