South Africa stands at the threshold of a transformative journey in the realm of Science, Technology, and Innovation (STI) as President Cyril Ramaphosa gears up to address the inaugural Presidential Plenary on STI. This pivotal event, slated to be held at the esteemed CSIR International Convention Centre in Pretoria next Tuesday, symbolizes a significant convergence of minds and aspirations towards leveraging innovation for the nation’s sustainable development.
“The STI Plenary will serve as a nexus, drawing leaders from government, industry, academia, and civil society to deliberate on the strides made within the National System of Innovation (NSI) and the inherent challenges within this sphere. More importantly, it seeks to chart pathways through which STI and skills development can be harnessed to catalyze positive impacts on the South African economy,” affirmed the Presidency in a statement heralding the event.
The genesis of this momentous gathering traces back to November 2022 when the Cabinet embraced the STI Decadal Plan, a guiding beacon for the initial decade of implementing the 2019 White Paper on STI. With a steadfast aim, the Decadal Plan aligns itself with the pivotal phases II (2020-2024) and III (2025-2030) of the National Development Plan (NDP). These phases advocate innovation as a pivotal tool to bolster the productivity and competitiveness of key sectors within the South African economy, thereby fostering amplified GDP growth rates.
The unveiling of the White Paper brought forth novel concepts, notably the inception of an Inter-Ministerial Committee (IMC) on STI and a Presidential STI Plenary. These frameworks were meticulously designed as instruments to fortify STI policy coherence while streamlining programmatic and budgetary coordination within the South African national system of innovation.
“In essence, the plenary serves as a unique platform fostering collaborative introspection among stakeholders concerning the progress of STI initiatives. It also serves as a conduit for stakeholders to collectively pledge resources towards endorsed STI initiatives,” elucidated the Presidency, underlining the collaborative ethos driving this significant endeavor.
Marking a milestone in March 2021, the establishment of the Inter-Ministerial Committee on STI, helmed by the Minister of Higher Education, Science, and Innovation and comprising Ministers from STI-intensive government departments, signifies a concerted effort towards concerted and cohesive advancement within the STI landscape.
Amidst the scheduled events, President Ramaphosa will graciously grace an exhibition showcasing locally produced innovations primed for the market. This diverse array of innovations encompasses fields such as space science, health, and energy, underscoring South Africa’s prowess and potential for groundbreaking advancements across various sectors.
The forthcoming plenary stands not merely as an event but as a clarion call for synergy, collaboration, and collective action towards fostering an innovation-driven economy. It is poised to serve as a cornerstone for South Africa’s journey towards sustainable growth, propelled by the power of Science, Technology, and Innovation.
This momentous gathering not only epitomizes a commitment to innovation but also signifies a resolute stride towards a future where South Africa emerges as a global beacon of progress and innovation. As the nation rallies behind the clarion call of innovation, this plenary embodies the collective vision for a prosperous, inclusive, and technologically advanced South Africa.