South Africa is not investing enough in science, technology and innovation, Minister of Science and Technology, Naledi Pandor has said, bemoaning an unchanged budget for her department.

Pandor was speaking yesterday during her department’s Budget Vote Speech in parliament, noting that if the country does not change this, it’ll be overtaken by nations with less infrastructure and knowledge resources.

The Department of Science and Technology’s budget for the 2016/17 financial year remains unchanged from the previous year at exactly R7.4 billion.

Of that amount R2.7 billion in parliamentary grants is transferred to the entities reporting to the department, namely:

  • the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) – R872 million
  • the National Research Foundation (NRF) – R883 million
  • the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) – R290 million
  • the Technology Innovation Agency (TIA) – R382 million
  • the South African National Space Agency (SANSA) – R125 million
  • the Academy of Science of South Africa – R23 million

Other significant allocations include:

  • R4.2 billion to the Research Development and Support branch
  • R741 million to supporting 14 500 postgraduate students
  • R20 million as part of the Operation Phakisa Oceans Economy, to support aquaculture activities in marginalised coastal communities, with a focus on women and the youth
  • A R2 million investment in a grassroots innovation initiative focusing on supporting innovators and technology entrepreneurs in the informal sector.

“Our failure to address the funding of this sector is causing the country to neglect several sectors that could offer South Africa talent, new products and real contributions to growth,” Pandor said.

The minister added that although the country is making good progress in building a strong National System of Innovation, there are areas in science in which it could do much more, such as creating new industries, new products and new services.

“Young people have been identified as those most in need of support through skills development and enterprise creation…We intend to strengthen our efforts to reach the youth,” she said.

[Source – Department of Science and Technology, image – CC Government ZA]