Collaboration Key to Knowledge Economy

ITWeb South Africa and the European Union (EU) are collaborating on an Information Society Technologies Africa project, which provides a platform for sharing ideas on the development and implementation of ICT policies among African countries.

It raises awareness in Europe of African ICT research and development capacity.

Collaboration between countries and regions is not just one of the options SA needs to pursue, but is a condition without which no nation could hope to survive the current global economic development challenges, says deputy science and technology minister Derek Hanekom.

Speaking at the international conference on research and development co-operation, in Gauteng, this morning, Hanekom said it is in this context that SA enjoys and values its strong long-term relationship with the EU.

The conference will focus on research and development co-operation to address global challenges with particular, but not exclusive, focus on African-EU science and technology co-operation.

It has representatives from Africa, Asia, Europe, and the Americas.

The Department of Science and Technology (DST) says it is committed to supporting Africa-EU cooperation on science and technology.

International collaboration

The deputy minister said the EU–SA relationship was established as a “strategic partnership” in 2007.

“The SA-EU agreement on science and technology was signed in 1996, and SA has since benefited significantly from the EU’s investment in our National System of Innovation.”

SA is currently involved in various EU-funded projects.

Hanekom mentioned CAAST-Net, the network for the coordination and advancement of sub-Saharan Africa-EU science and technology cooperation that supports Africa-EU policy dialogues and promotes African participation in EU programmes.

There is also the INCONTACT-One World project that is aimed at networking and information sharing between European and third country National Contact Points, with a view to increasing international cooperation in science and technology.

Hanekom also said there are projects facilitating African-European collaboration in aeronautics research, promoting African-European research infrastructure partnerships, and developing African-European joint collaboration for science and technology.

Research benchmark

“We appreciate the opportunities presented by EU programmes, which give our researchers opportunities to be involved in world-class research and afford our country a golden opportunity to benchmark ourselves against international researchers,” said the deputy minister.

He added that this helps SA accelerate its objective of transforming its economy from a resource-based to a knowledge-based one.

“There is not a shadow of doubt in our minds that this is the way to go if our economy is to improve its competitiveness.”

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