Address by Naledi Pandor MP, Minister of Science and Technology, at the opening of the German-South African Year of Science, Cape Town
16 Apr 2012Minister Schavan;
German Ambassador in South Africa, Dr Horst Freitag;
Ladies and gentlemen
Let me start by extending a warm South African welcome to all of you, and in particular to our guests from the Federal Republic of Germany.
Germany and South Africa have vastly different science and engineering systems.
Germany built much of its economic success over the past decades through maintaining high-value added engineering and heavy industries and it is the integration of high-tech into medium and low-tech products that forms the basis of German innovation.
South Africa is a resource-rich country. The mining industry has been crucial to our economic development. It’s both a major employer and a major contributor to the country’s export revenues.
South Africa is one of the richest mineral-resource holders in the world, although the recent discoveries in Mozambique, Ghana and Kenya suggest that there are vast untapped resources in sub-Saharan Africa.
To a very large extent, the mining industry has driven the technological development of South Africa over the last century, with advances achieved mostly through government and industry-supported research programmes. The development of world-class technologies and high-level engineering and scientific competence has ensured that South Africa’s mineral processing industry remains internationally competitive.
We are proud of our technological heritage. We have made a disproportionate contribution to technological innovation worldwide, considering our relatively small economy.
There are areas in which we are global leaders, particularly on the basis of research in our research councils.
For example, South Africa’s Council for Scientific and Industrial Research in partnership with the Boeing Company inaugurated the world’s first Ka-band telemetry, tracking and command facility at the local Satellite Applications Centre at Hartebeesthoek.
And the Council for Science and Industrial Research is working with Airbus on using titanium and other advanced materials in aircraft.
Yet we are heavily dependent on imported technology.
We have and are building stronger science and engineering partnerships with other countries.
We admire Germany’s well-funded research landscape - some 70 Max Planck institutes specialising in basic research, about 60 Fraunhofer institutes conducting applied research, collaborating closely with industry, about 80 Leibniz institutes and 17 Helmholtz large-science centres engaging in basic, strategic and applied research.
We meet here today not only to strengthen our bilateral partnership but also to face the multitude of global challenges - rising poverty and inequality, increased demand for energy, the global financial and food crises - that need innovative solutions.
Arising from the strong bilateral cooperation between our two countries, we gather here today, at this opening session of the 2012/13 German – South African Year of Science, to celebrate the scientific collaboration and partnership between our countries.
Therefore, by launching the German-South African Year of Science, we seek to create an environment in which our countries will be able to:
For the year of science, the focus will be on several strategic thematic areas, which include climate change, human capital development, the bio-economy, urbanisation/megacities, astronomy, health innovation and social sciences and humanities.
- intensify awareness of the S&T partnerships between the two countries;
- increase the joint ventures between our countries;
- establish a platform to expand and deepen bilateral science, technology and innovation cooperation;
- popularise science and technology among the young people of German and South Africa;
- Increase publicity of South Africa and Germany as key locations of innovation among strong research-based companies in both countries.
Social innovation or innovation for development is a key component of our collaboration. Projects such as the Communal Water House of the Ikwezi local community in the Eastern Cape, intended to support management of water resources, is one such example.
Another is Inkaba ye Africa, Biota South, science for sustainability, advanced manufacturing and laser technologies.
Minister Schavan, I would like to thank you for partnering with countries in Africa in establishing the Southern African Science Service Centre for Climate Change and Adaptive Land Management (SASSCAL). This joint initiative of Germany, Angola, Botswana, Namibia, South Africa, and Zambia will assist in the regional work that is ongoing towards addressing the challenge of climate change.
SASSCAL’s overall goal is to strengthen regional scientific capacity to help to mitigate the effects of climate change. The initiative focuses on key areas like water, forestry, agriculture and biodiversity, and its main thrusts are research capacity development, and regional advisory and information services.
It gives me great pleasure to announce that the ministers responsible for science and technology in this partnership will sign a joint declaration in Windhoek on 18 April 2012.
I invite you to visit the exhibition over the next two days. It is intended to give you a better idea of the bilateral cooperation between Germany and South Africa, showcasing initiatives that cut across all the areas for the year of science.
There are a number of exciting presentations and lectures that form part of today’s programme and I urge you all to take full advantage of these.
Because astronomy is of its strategic importance to both our countries, the astronomy symposium, titled “Innovating the future, reaching for the stars” is a unique opportunity to deepen existing relations and create opportunities for the building of new linkages between the various stakeholders in our countries so that value can be added to our collaborations.
All these activities will set the scene for a series of informative events which are still to be hosted in South Africa and Germany throughout the year.
It is my sincere hope that the abundance of exciting activities will not only enhance your knowledge of South Africa’s science and technology initiatives, but will also gives you the opportunity to get an idea of our country’s rich cultural diversity and breathtaking natural splendour.
As a government, we place great value in forging mutually beneficial partnerships with other governments and institutions across the world.
Our collaboration with Germany is among our most valued partnerships, and we are firmly committed to ensure that it grows from strength to strength.
I thank you.
Department of Science and Technology
Tel: 012 843 6802
Cell: 082 566 0446
Issued by: Department of Science and Technology
16 Apr 2012
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