Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa delivered the keynote address at the third Science Forum South Africa (SFSA) on Thursday in Pretoria and stressed the importance of using the economy to develop young scientists.
The SFSA was being held under the theme ‘Igniting Conversations About Science’.
SFSA is Africa’s largest open science event, aimed at igniting a vibrant debate on the role of science in society.
The two-day programme comprises plenary panel debates, short seminars and talks with the participation of local and international thought leaders from the scientific community.
Presidential hopeful Ramaphosa said Africans should not only be consumers of innovation but urged that they also become exponents and managers of innovation.
“This science forum is bound to inspire many in a world where imaginations have allowed us to dream. I am confident that the youth of our continent will explore many inventions and be inspired. If ever there was a forum to ignite science, this is the forum. We have a responsibility to believe that there is a future for science in our communities,” said Ramaphosa.
He said he was hopeful that the forum would provide solutions in many sectors, with particular focus on agriculture, which has become important owing to the need for food security.
“We look to [the youth] to lead the way. I have had discussions with many young people who are involved in cutting [edge] innovations and whose stories have demonstrated that our young people can reach their pinnacle. They can reach their dreams if we nurture them,” he said.
The National Development Plan (NDP) and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals identify science as important in fulfilling certain goals.
“Many challenges we face, including food insecurities and poverty, require intensified dialogue among all nations. No country can work alone. This forum is a platform to be able to engage and succeed,” stressed Ramaphosa.
He emphasised that South Africa remained committed to the NDP and to see science and technological development thrive.
He pointed out that Africa needed to enhance science.
“We have a lot to share with our sister countries. The time is now to work diligently and smart to drive change. If we work smart we are working in an innovative way,” he stated.
In closing, Ramaphosa said he had no doubt that the forum was going to help derive excellent outcomes that were going to be useful in government, while also providing an excellent platform for delegates to build networks.