Last week, the Department of Science and Technology’s minister Naledi Pandor presented her department’s Budget Vote for 2014/15 in Parliament. According to the Budget Vote, this is how the department plans to spend its allocated budget and how much more it needs for other projects and goals.
The Department of Science and Technology received a total of R6.470 billion from the National Treasury for the 2014/15 financial year, which is around R2 billion more than the last financial year’s R6.2 billion rand. Most of this is distributed to the six entities reporting to the Department as follows:
Key priorities in 2014/15
The Department of Science and Technology will focus on developing human capital, creating new knowledge, investing in research and development infrastructure and encouraging innovation in South Africa by funding marketable products emerging from research.
Transfers to fund the MeerKAT radio telescope outside the small town of Carnavon in the Northern Cape will be made and the MeerKAT should increase from four dishes in 2014/15 to 27 in 2015/16 and 31 in 2016/17.
R1.4 billion has been allocated over the medium term from the Economic Competitiveness and Support Package for industrial partnerships, research into satellite development, titanium technology and nanotechnology, and to train interns for the African Very Long Baseline Interferometry Network (AVN) programme.
Science and Technology Education
To improve South Africa’s global competitiveness, the Department will make transfer payments to the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and the National Research Foundation (NRF) to fund 11 440 bursaries for postgraduate research students in 2014/15, and close to 30 000 over the next two financial years.
The Department has also allocated R80 million to fund 1 000 science postgraduates in its 2014/15 internship programme.
An additional R5,8 billion is needed if South Africa is to achieve the National Development Plan’s target of 100 000 PhDs by 2030.
Transformation in Science and Technology
A total of R1.7 billion in grants and bursaries for woman and black researchers and students will be allocated by the NRF to achieve the following goals pertaining to rise in transformation set by minister Pandor:
R497 million will be invested in implementing a coordinated approach to science education, science awareness and science communication for South African primary and high school learners. The programme, run through the South African Agency for Science and Technology Advancement (SAASTA), will reach about 350 000 learners and about 13 000 teachers.
To increase public engagement on science, technology and innovation, a science and education centre will be built in Cofimvaba in the Eastern Cape at a cost of R30 million to encourage an appreciation for science and to offer teacher training in the area. A mobile science laboratory, funded by the Department and the Sasol Inzalo Foundation, will help the science centre reach nearby rural areas.
ICT research, development and innovation (RDI) plan
To implement its ICT RDI plan, which will provide a mechanism to forecast developments in targeted areas around the country and identify and tackle critical areas for development, the department still needs and additional R9 billion from private and public investors.
On top of the allocated budget for the year, the Department of Science and Technology along with the CSIR Meraka Institute, has sourced an additional funding of about R258 million for ICT RDI activities. Funding has been received by and will be allocated as follows: