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Nzimande vows to put innovation at centre of economy

Image: GovernmentZA [CC BY-ND 2.0], via Flickr

Interministerial cluster to oversee national coordination of science budgets and resources

The government of South Africa will prioritise science and innovation through a newly developed interministerial cluster, the country’s science and higher education minister said this week.

Blade Nzimande made the vow on 2 November during his keynote address at the 8th biennial conference for the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research in Pretoria.

The conference brought together 1,800 local and international participants under the theme ‘Harnessing research, development and innovation for a robust South African economy’.

Speaking to the audience virtually, Nzimande said the government is committed to putting science, technology and innovation at the heart of policymaking. "We have established a standing ministerial-level science, technology and innovation structure, which I am chairing,” he said.

STI integration

The structure comprises STI-intensive departments, chairpersons of the government clusters, the treasury and the planning, monitoring and evaluation department. “We will be working with the presidency and national treasury to facilitate the integration of the STI agenda and plans into government planning,” Nzimande said.

The structure will coordinate STI budgets, commit public resources to research and innovation, and review reports on the performance of the national system of innovation over three-year cycles, Nzimande explained.

For the cluster to succeed, he added, it will need to enjoy the support of industry, academia and civil society.