The South African Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SACCI) is very excited about the potential for economic growth and job creation through the innovation of local businesses as outlined by the Honourable Ms. Naledi Pandor, Minister of Science and Technology. SACCI is proud to have hosted the Minister at a breakfast sponsored by Pfizer South Africa. The work of Department and the future of science and technology in South Africa where discussed.
The South African business community is enthusiastic about the positive benefits that technological innovation will bring to the country as a whole. The Square Kilometer Array (SKA) for example creates an opportunity for the procurement of locally produced material and for lasting skills transfer from construction industry to cutting-edge astronomy.
The Minister highlighted the worrying current trend of a shift to investment in science and research rather than focusing on marketable technologies. This creates the problem that South African companies are losing their international competitiveness to overseas rivals because of lowered investment into the research and development of industrial technologies. Despite this, the Minister outlined a host of highly promising initiatives that the Department of Science and Technology is involved with:
• The introduction of the changes to the R&D tax incentive application process including the pre-approval process to reduce uncertainty
• The pilot titanium metal powder plant to begin constructed next year, which could position South Africa as a primary player in the global aerospace market – this will play a significant role in beneficiating local titanium resources to high value-added export products
• Skills development programs like the R400 million bursary scheme to train local scientists in preparation for the SKA
Mr. Brian Daniels, CEO of Pfizer South Africa, congratulated the minister on securing the majority of the SKA program for South Africa and emphasized that the local business community is looking forward to further interactions with the Minister. Mr. Daniels pointed out that the pharmaceutical industry spends around $120 billion on research and development each year, of which R2 billion is done in South Africa. Pfizer is celebrating its 60th year of contributing to South Africa next year.