The next industrial revolution must be inclusive and the science community must ensure that young people are empowered to participate, says Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa.
The Deputy President addressed thousands of people who packed the CSIR International Convention Centre today, for the first day of the Science Forum South Africa (SFSA) 2017, joined by the Minister of Science and Technology, Naledi Pandor.
The Deputy President said the SFSA was working to strengthen Pan-African cooperation in science and technology to advance regional integration, peace, social cohesion, inclusive development and global partnerships. He said it provided a platform to sharpen public debate on the role of science in the lives of people and how, through cooperation and partnerships, people could collectively advance the practice of science.
“By breaking down barriers and challenging hierarchies in the science community, it has come to represent collegiality, collaboration and inclusivity among participants and contributors,” said Ramaphosa.
He added that, “SFSA must rekindle hope in a world of unending possibilities, a world where imagination, innovation and scientific discovery allow us to dream of a better, and more secure and equitable future.” A community of young people that believe there is a future for science in South Africa and on the continent, must be developed.
“We must ensure that the youth see themselves as agents of development, working to redesign the urban environment, expanding transport networks and building new, more sustainable human settlements.”
The Deputy President called on the science community to partner partner with young entrepreneurs to support the development and sustainability of innovative businesses, adding that the Fourth Industrial Revolution meant that action had to be taken to enable young people to participate.
“In a rapidly changing global economy, our continent must invest in the development of young scientists to reap the economic and social benefits of the fourth industrial revolution. The next industrial revolution must be inclusive,” he said. “It is up to us to ensure that Africans are not treated only as consumers of technology, but also as developers and managers of innovation.”
In her address, Minister Pandor said that South Africa had made efforts to put in place the best science and technology policies. “We focus on promoting specific areas for R&D - astronomy, energy, bio economy - in which we are becoming world leaders. We invest in knowledge-based activities that are driven by the quality of the scientists we train, the quality of our research and development infrastructure, and the enablers we have put in place to turn scientific research into technology.’’
With the African Union Commissioner for Human Resources, Science and Technology and the CEO of the NEPAD Planning and Coordinating Agency, as well as Ministers from Angola, Botswana, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Jamaica, Namibia, Uganda and Swaziland, in attendance, the Minister said that the science forum was already one of Africa’s premier platforms for public debate on science.
Minister Pandor said science was an integral part of Africa’s growth and development agenda and South Africa was committed to playing its part in contributing to developing Africa’s capacities for science and technology. “I'm confident that our Forum will help to foster a continental consensus on the critical role of science in African society.”
Over the next two days panel discussions and talks on a variety of interesting topics on science, technology and innovation will be held. Science councils, embassies and several other organisations are also exhibiting locally developed technology.
SFSA provides a platform for broad discussion between among a variety of science, technology and innovation role-players. For more information visit.www.sfsa.co.za
Issued by the Department of Science and Technology