Hon Chairperson, hon Minister and Deputy Minister, fellow members and members of the public, before I continue with my prepared speech I would like to refer to the SKA SA project which was referred to by many other speakers before me. It is one of those instances where the advantages accrue to some people but the disadvantages go to the local people.
We have a problem in the two municipalities of Kareeberg and Karoo Hoogland that the substantial part of the productive range land was taken out of production for the benefit of the SKA SA project. However, the benefit that the SKA SA project should bring nothing goes to the towns of Williston, Karnarben, Vredenburg, Van Wyk Sly, Brandvlei, but they lose a substantial part of their productive potential. These are towns and communities which work at best marginally successful, marginally able to continue with their jobs of making a living.
Not only the people and the business people of the area are affected but also the wildlife. The animals, reptiles, mammals, all the different part of our zoological richness used to utilise the water sources which were maintained by the stock farmers of the area. Those water sources are not available anymore and if you go and look at those areas - those hundred hectares [Inaudible] which has to be
cleaned up completely, you will find the remains of animals which died of thirst there.
What the farmers of the area reported is that the public participation process was at best utterly frustrating because, at the beginning, when the first statements were made, the people were unclear about how many hectares of land will be needed and those hectares which were needed multiplied with each new stage that the project went into. In addition, if the people ask certain specialised information, the person able to supply was just a never there. It was just never possible to supply the information.
Those people are still in the dark and with the draught which is prevalent at the moment the communities are actually in danger of really becoming unviable in the future. The economic benefits which accrued through Karnaben and the surrounding areas was just for the construction phase and now and again for a little bit of accommodation. But the real economic benefits goes to the nearest place, Kimberly, which is already quite a large town - in any case in the Northern Cape towns and then to the big universities of South Africa, living these people without much of a recourse. But let's get back to the rest of the budget.
Toe ek klein was en ek van die skool by die huis gekom, het my pa vir my gevra, wat het jy vandag geleer? As ek nie kon antwoord nie het hy ges, s net een woord wat jy geleer het. Die woord wat ek na hierdie paar weke sou gegee het is vierde industrile revolusie.
Everybody speaks about the fourth industrial revolution. At least, we had a good report of what the first three revolutions where by the chairperson of the committee... But is necessary to be said of the fourth industrial revolution is that this is the one that can make people obsolete in the economy. Having people being obsolete is a problem. That in fact is a problem for the humanity, not for the natural sciences.
It is going to the point where we would say if the last person leaves, just switch off the lights. But it also creates opportunities. Many people are living in places and doing jobs which they would not have preferred to do but they do it out of economic necessities.
Labour will not be the mechanism to distribute the yields of the planet of earth anymore, but if we can devise a new way of
distributing the wealth of the earth then people may be able to live where they want to and to do the jobs that they regard as fulfilling. That will fundamentally undermine the acquisition of the nation state as we know it at the moment and it will lead inevitable to the... [Time Expired.]
The DEPUTY MINISTER OF HIGHER EDUCATION, SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY (Mr
K B Manamela): Chairperson, Minister of Science and Innovation, hon Blade Nzimande, chairperson and members of the portfolio committee, hon members, director-general, and senior officials of the department, it gives me great pleasure to present part of the Department of Science and Innovation's Budget Vote speech and to further expand on some areas of the Budget following the Minister's address.
I join the Minister in dedicating this speech to a great South African, Mr Mandla Spaceboy Astronaut Maseko, who unfortunately lost his life over the weekend. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family.
I would also like to acknowledge Nkamo Mowa and his mentee, Isaac Boshomane, who dropped out of school in grade 8 and started fixing cars before creating his own small vehicle in 2016. The vehicle,
named Buraki, runs on a motorcycle engine and has travelled from Pretoria to as far as Polokwane. Our agencies are working with him to help him realize his dream of mass producing this car, creating jobs and contributing to our economy.
We are also joined in the gallery by Moses Ngobeni, an electrical engineer, who has no mechanical background but went on to realise his dream of building a sports car from scratch using parts and metal from various models.
Mr Ngobeni is very passionate about this project, and told me earlier when I chatted with him that this project is now bigger than him and he believes it will place our country on the map as it relates to the auto industry.
These are South Africans who want to contribute, using their skills and passion, to us being in par with the rest of the developing world in science, technology and innovation.
We congratulate them and commit our support to these projects. They embody the spirit of science, technological development and innovation.
From the invention of the steam engine to the invention of the combustible engine and through to the implementation of electronics and information technology to automate production, the various industrial revolutions have disrupted economies and societies.
The Fourth Industrial Revolution, 4IR, promises to be no different. We only have to look back to as far as the early nineties when laptop computers and cell phones couldn't fit in a bag, when self- driving cars were the figment of some television producer's imagination, and fighter robots were a work of fiction whilst most work was done manually.
Today, all of these will become obsolete as the smallest of computers have been designed, voice is making way for data, robots are now responsible for almost an entire production of the auto- industry just outside of Pretoria, going to space is now as frequent as going out for lunch and many other unimaginable disruptions have become the order of the day.
These developments have come with their challenges and fears. Amongst these lies the potential of deepening inequality, rising levels of poverty, concentration of wealth amongst few individuals
and the continued domination of a few nations that are ahead of the curve.
As we have seen in the past, industrial revolution that does not address the immediate, basic, social and economic needs of all the people can only lead to regression of society and plunging nations into crises as everyone fights for their survival.
If this industrial revolution will merely be about technology, it would fail in bringing to the fore some of the fundamental and structural challenges that the capitalist system has failed to address over the years.
This should be the revolution of the people, and should resolve their immediate and daily challenges, rather than deepen these challenges.
One of the biggest challenges is the disruption that the Fourth Industrial Revolution has on the job market.
Rapid growth in advanced technology threatens to replace humans, both those performing low-skilled physical jobs and so called cognitive educated jobs.
Researchers and futurists tell us that there will be limited or no need for records clerks, mapping technicians, bankers, tax consultants, tele- marketers, proof-readers and librarians. Indeed, the picture painted can be grim. So grim that the President joked last week that with hologram technology we may in the future not even need a president to go around making speeches as this can now be robotised.
But we must also remember that in each industrial revolution, new jobs were created. These new jobs brought hope and destiny to many.
The power of the Fourth Industrial Revolution can and must be harnessed for socio-economic development and equality.
Prof Adam Habib reminded us at the Digital Economy Summit of the 4IRSA that and I quote:
We need to train scholars to deal with the challenges of the 21st century, some which we may not yet have encountered. We need to work across sectors to develop the technology required for us to leapfrog across eons of poverty, unemployment and inequality, and in so doing, create a new world order that prioritises humanity before profits and power.
President Ramaphosa, in his 2018 state of the nation address said that and I quote: "Our prosperity as a nation depends on our ability to take full advantage of rapid technological change".
The Department of Science and Innovation is furthering our ability to take advantage of rapid technological change, so that we can build a prosperous nation.
The 2019 White Paper on Science, Technology and Innovation, notes that the Fourth Industrial Revolution is based on three sets of megatrends physical, digital and biological and involves a convergence of technologies and disciplines that is having a multisystem impact.
In recent years, the Department of Science and Innovation has enabled the development of individual 4IR technologies such as nanotechnology, biotechnology, information and communications technologies, robotics, photonics and additive manufacturing.
Lately, however, there has been a realisation that an integrated approach will lead to a more holistic science system and greater convergence.
The Department of Science and Innovation has initiated the converging technologies platform to introduce a more collaborative approach between technologies. The overall vision of the converging technologies platform is to fuse the assets of the national system of innovation in order to create an innovation explosion that will result in greater and increased socio- economic impact for the benefit of all South Africans.
Our Centre for Artificial Intelligence Research, Cair Programme conducts foundational directed and applied research into various aspects of artificial intelligence, AI.
Over the last seven years, the Cair programme has produced multiple masters and Doctor of Philosophy, PhD, graduates, postdoctoral fellowships, research publications and technology demonstrators.
The Cair is at the forefront of developing national capacity and capability in the field of AI, which is inextricably linked with the advancement of the 4IR in the country.
The Department of Science and Innovation has been funding the Data Science for Impact and Decision Enhancement, DSIDE, Programme for the past five years. In this period, more than 190 third and fourth-
year students, as well as honours and masters students, have gone through the programme at the erstwhile Meraka Institute at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, CSIR.
To increase the programme's reach and impact, the organisers have devised innovative ways of strengthening research and practice in disciplines such as AI and machine learning for South Africa and the continent as a whole.
We are driving the pursuit of new sectors and sources of growth while endeavouring to green our economy. Both the sugar and paper and pulp industries are facing decreasing demands for their primary commodities. The revitalisation of these industries requires new strategies for sustainability in a low-carbon future.
An integrated bio refinery approach offers potential solutions to these challenges as well as the opportunity to derive value from by- products of these industries that were traditionally considered as waste.
In this regard, we are supporting the Biore?nery Innovation Programme with funding of R18 million over three years, with the aim of enhancing the competitiveness of the sugar and forestry sectors
by developing technologies to produce new renewable products from agricultural feedstocks.
Agri-businesses for propagation of indigenous medicines and food have been initiated in all but one province. Participating communities have been organised into entrepreneurial co-operatives and small, medium and micro- sized enterprises, SMMEs. Fifteen of these are currently being incubated by a consortium of the Innovation Hub, CSIR, South African Bureau of Standards, Agricultural Research Council, and EgoliBio.
Over sixty scientifically evaluated products are being commercialised locally and internationally by SMMEs. Three commercial patents for tuberculosis therapies, and two for cosmeceuticals, have been registered by the University of Pretoria.
The Agriculture Bioeconomy Innovation Partnership Programme, ABIPP, has funded agro-processing initiatives through the Technology Innovation Agency, TIA in support of marula, honeybush and Cape aloe.
The three projects aim to develop and commercialise these indigenous crops, exploiting new market opportunities for job creation and local benefit.
Amarula community development programme, in Hoedspruit, Limpopo, co- funded by the Industrial Development Corporation, IDC and TIA, was initiated during the 2018-19 financial year. The new project to expand the processing of honeybush to more communities, coupled with support for innovation to speed up the fermentation process, is currently being supported at the Agricultural Research Council, ARC. It is full of very practical programme which are making an impact on our communities are dependent on the research that the department has invested in for sure.
In addition, several initiatives were undertaken to promote cooperatives and agro-processing initiatives in 2018-19. Fifteen community-based initiatives were supported with the construction and equipping of pilot preprocessing facilities and agri-businesses.
Fourteen SMMEs were incubated at the Innovation Hub for business development and entrepreneurship in RDI-based natural products, and best performing strains of medical cannabis were identified for
priority health conditions such as cancer, hypertension and Alzheimer's disease.
As we further our science and innovation policy goals, we must proactively support the development of both small and big business.
I am pleased to report that progress has been made towards establishing a fund that will help bring locally developed innovations into the market.
Our department, working with the Department of Small Business Development and National Treasury, are finalising the mandate and funding mechanisms of the Small Business and Innovation Fund. The fund is designed to largely de- risk the early stages of technology commercialisation and business development.
An injection of R1 billion per year for five-years is expected to make a significant impact in making these businesses and technologies more attractive to investors for significant scaleup.
We are making progress in science and innovation to ready us for the Fourth Industrial Revolution. However, this should not be at the expense of our environment and we are doing all that we can to
ensure that some of the reports that we heard in the news recently around deali with the air quality, air pollution and all of that affect children im the main are being dealt with.
By combining a selected suite of local and international technologies, and involving the triple helix of government, academia and industry, the programme will seek to demonstrate that it is possible to convert the carbon dioxide contained in coal fired power station flue gases into multiple chemical commodity streams using green ammonia and green hydrogen.
The programme aims to address multiple environmental, economic and societal challenges while enabling the country to extract maximum value from its vast coal resources in a sustainable and environmentally friendly manner.
Furthermore, the programme has the potential to ensure security of supply for selected chemical commodities, while creating new asset classes, new local manufacturing industries, and new export opportunities into Africa and the rest of the world, and honouring South Africa's international greenhouse gas commitments.
More needs to be done. Yes, we agree. Our Budget for 2019-2020 must be supplemented by partnerships with the private sector, international agencies and donors in order to ensure that we meet our goals. I believe that working with all of these partners, we will be able to vigorously achieve all these goals and collective support. I thank you.