Why Science with, in and for Africa matters – Science Minister, Naledi Pandor
At a lecture delivered at the American Association for the Advancement of Science annual meeting in San Jose, California on February 16, the South African Minister of Science and Technology, Naledi Pandor said that when Nelson Mandela was set free 25 years ago he not only set South Africa free but he also freed the rest of the continent. She said, “We are now able to share our relatively advanced science and innovation resources with other African countries”.
Pandor explained that in order for her audience could appreciate what she was saying it was necessary to describe the breadth and depth of South African science and technology innovation.
She said that “South Africa is fortunate to boast excellence in a large number of cutting-edge science and technology domains. Whether it is in nanotechnology or astronomy, laser technology or high performance computing, South Africa has made an impact in the global science area. Measured by the impact of their publications in international scientific journals, South African researchers are among the most productive in the world.
“With regard to the life sciences, South African scientists have for years been at the forefront of the fight against infectious diseases such as HIV-Aids, malaria and tuberculosis. Internationally acclaimed work underway includes the development of a malaria drug, an HIV-Aids vaccine and a microbicide gel to prevent HIV-Aids infection. Our goal is now to ensure our scientific excellence will translate into the development of South Africa’s own pharmaceutical industry, which will create jobs. A secret weapon in our life sciences arsenal with tremendous potential is our pioneering work in indigenous knowledge systems.”
The science minister went on to describe South African scientific achievements in the areas of climate change, green technology, the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) radio telescope project and especially with programmes designed to lift rural populations out of poverty.
She noted that, “African countries have made a determined effort to increase research, development and innovation (RDI). The past fifteen years have witnessed focused interventions in higher education in science councils, academies and in universities.
“Many countries have begun to budget for science, technology and innovation (STI) and most of them have targeted 1% of GDP as their future contribution to research funding”.
For a transcription of the full lecture go to: http://tinyurl.com/q9xw793
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