The Minister said the department will also look into using innovation in the area of local government as it can play a role in accelerating development.
She said the department, together with its partners, has developed innovations aimed at mitigating the effects of drought in the areas of water and sanitation.
She said this when she briefed the media on the department’s Budget Vote at the Imbizo Centre on Tuesday.
“… Young people have been identified as those most in need of support through skills and enterprise creation. We intend to strengthen our efforts at reaching youth,” she said.
The Minister said there were also plans to launch the first National Summit on Youth in Science, Technology and Innovation, which will focus on enhancing research and development skills and increasing the numbers and demographic representativeness of the next generation of researchers.
This, the Minister said, will be done through allowing young people to present their research, participate in science seminars and workshops and get information on science councils and their related programmes.
“Building on the success of mLabs Southern Africa, a mobile solutions laboratory and start-up accelerator designed to help young entrepreneurs, this initiative will be expanded to other provinces,” the Minister said.
Water and sanitation innovations to mitigate drought impact
The Minister said, meanwhile, that the theme for the department’s Budget Vote is ‘Innovation for sustainable local government and youth development’.
She said the reason for the focus on local government is the sphere is the closest to communities, and that fostering science, technology and innovation in local government can play a role in accelerating development.
“My department has produced several evidence-based knowledge products that support decision-making and the provision of public services in sectors such as water, sanitation, energy and housing.
“Some include the finalisation of a bioenergy atlas and the development of a Sanitation Technology Evaluation and Assessment Database Tool,” she said.
Science and Technology Director-General Dr Phil Mjwara said the department has partnered with a number of agencies to look at the sanitation technology that is in the sector.
“What we have discovered in South Africa is we could have sanitation technology that uses less water. We then propose those technologies as potential uptake for sanitation technology,” he said.
R650 million set aside for MeerKat, SKA related costs
Minister Pandor said that the department’s budget for the 2016/17 financial year has been set at R7.4 billion.
She said urgent attention must be given to adequate funding for science and technology and innovation if the country is to achieve its strategic national priorities.
“The SKA will be the world’s largest and most sensitive radio telescope. Key benefits will include leveraging foreign direct investment, estimated at 650 million Euros for phase one (2018 to 2023),” she said.