After some lengthy delays President Jacob Zuma was able to present his State of the Nation address for 2017 yesterday evening.

After addressing matters such as the economy and the Nine Point Plan in which Broadband Rollout received a mention, the president addressed the matter of science and maths in the country.

“President OR Tambo was a maths and science teacher. Government will thus prioritise maths and science more than ever before this year, in his memory,” said Zuma.

The president says he is encouraged by recent test results in the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study as well and the Southern and East African Consortium for Monitoring Educational Quality.

“Amongst the participating countries, South Africa has shown the largest improvement of 87 points in Mathematics and 90 points in Science,” Zuma said.

“This is very encouraging as we don’t want our children to be left behind.”

Investment in science paying dividends

The president acknowledged that investment in projects such as the Square Kilometre Array and MeerKAT telescopes are positively impacting the nation.

“Together with its precursor, the MeerKAT telescope, the SKA project continues to make important contributions to socio-economic development in South Africa,” said the leader.

The construction of the MeerKAT telescope has also spurred on the creation of jobs according to the president. He says that the project has diversified the economy through the creation of jobs for artisans and maintenance workers.

A career in the sciences is also being promoted as a career of choice added Zuma.

#DataMustFall

The #DataMustFall movement kicked off by radio personality Tbo Touch was also deemed worthy of a nod by the president.

“We assure the youth that the lowering of the cost of data is uppermost in our policies and plans,” said Zuma.

Sadly that was the extent of the president’s acknowledgement of the matter but it might be good news for consumers if government is seeking to make the cost of access to the internet more affordable.

ICT and sundry

Also of note was the president’s talk of getting more businesses owned by women and the youth into the ICT sector.

“Government will also continue to pursue policies that seek to broaden the participation of black people and SMMEs, including those owned by women and the youth, in the Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) sector,” he said.

The president also stated that renewable energy is core to meeting South Africa’s energy security.

“Renewable energy forms an important part of our energy mix,” says Zuma.

The president went on to say that Eskom will sign outstanding power purchase agreements for renewable energy and that government is committed to the Independent Power Producers Programme.

You can read the full transcript of the State of the Nation Address 2017 on the official South African government website.