13 December 2018

South Africa: Science Forum Discussions Must Address Needs of Most Fragile Communities

Science and Technology Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane says discussions at the Science Forum South Africa should contribute to addressing the needs of the most vulnerable communities.

Kubayi-Ngubane said this when she addressed the opening session of the 2018 Science Forum South Africa at the University of Pretoria on Wednesday.

The Forum, expected to attract about 3000 scientists, researchers, students and policy makers and about 70 exhibitors from around the world, takes place under the theme "igniting conversations about science".

"This is perhaps the most critical task of our Forum: how do we ensure discussions here are relevant and address the needs of our most fragile communities.

"Science for development has become a common rallying cry.

"Among other things we will also need to answers the questions: with a growing youth population in the African continent, what is it that we need to do to ensure that the majority of the youth participate in science, technology and innovation? What concrete steps will we take as Africans to ensure that the participation of women in science is proportional to the size of their population?"

The event was attended by top science minds and dignitaries from all over the continent, including Iranian Vice President for Science and Technology Dr Sorena Sattari, Professor Sarah Mbi Enow Anyang Agbor, the African Union Commissioner for Human Resources, Dr Vladimar Sucha, Director-General of the European Commission's Joint Research Centre, Prof Felix Dapara Dakora, President of the African Academy of Sciences, Science and Technology and SA Radio Astronomy Organisation Managing Director Dr Rob Adam, among others.

She said building friendships, partnerships and solidarity, across the divides, the artificial divides and differences was important.

"Let us work to put science diplomacy into practice building a better South Africa, in a better Africa in a better world, drawing on the legacy of all who fought and sacrificed for a free and democratic South Africa.

"Despite the untold misery that people have suffered in the name of science we believe that science can be a force for good.

"In the words of our Icon Tata Madiba who said: 'None of us will need to be persuaded of the utility of science to national growth and prosperity. But neither will we need to be reminded of its capacity to lend itself to destruction and repression'."

Kubayi-Ngubane said, meanwhile, that the recently-released new White Paper policy has identified as one of its important pillars the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

"Hence this year a major theme will be the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

"We would also like the forum to be a platform for engagements on using Science, Technology and Innovation for the advancement of the AU Agenda 2063 and AU Science, Technology and Innovation Strategy for Africa (STISA-2024) which places science, technology and innovation at the epicentre of Africa's socio-economic development and growth," she said.

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