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South Africa wants more Africans to join Brics science projects

Image: DSI

Nzimande announces funding to build Brics-Africa science, technology and innovation networks

South Africa’s science minister has announced that the country will assist researchers from the rest of Africa to take part in its science collaborations with Brazil, Russia, India and China.

Blade Nzimande (pictured) announced the support during his address to a science ministerial meeting of the Brics bloc held in Gqeberha on 3-4 August as part of his country’s chairship of the bloc.

Nzimande said South Africa would provide extra funding so South African scientists applying to an upcoming Brics funding call on climate change adaptation and mitigation would be able to include partners from other African countries in their proposals.

He also said South Africa would provide funding to South African participants in current projects funded under the Brics Framework Programme to help colleagues across Africa connect with Brics researchers and build “Brics-Africa networks”.

South Africa will also organise a meeting later this year between Brics and African science funding agencies to discuss joint funding initiatives going forward.

Nzimande said cooperation with partners in the global south and strengthening multilateralism and solidarity through Brics science, technology and innovation partnerships was “a priority of the highest order”.

New flagship projects

A joint declaration from the ministerial meeting said the Brics countries hope to issue a call for joint science, technology and innovation “flagship projects” in 2024.

The new flagship projects will fall under the bloc’s Brics Science, Technology and Innovation Framework Programme, which was launched in 2016 to fund and coordinate Brics research.

The flagship projects will be larger in size and have a stronger focus on impact, according to information published about the initiative last year. The projects will range from three to five years, must contain representatives from all five Brics countries, and bring researchers from at least two fields of science.

Brics science ministers also called on the bloc’s STI steering committee to carry out a “strategic review” of the current focus areas and organisational framework of the bloc’s STI working group to “ensure better alignment” with the bloc’s priorities.

Nzimande identified vaccine manufacturing, new hydrogen and fuel cell technologies and marine sciences as three national priority areas in which it hopes to strengthen Brics collaboration.