President Cyril Ramaphosa’s Address at the Science and Technology in Society Forum at the 7th Tokyo International Conference on African Development, Yokohama, Japan
Prime Minister Shinzō Abe,
Founder and Chairman of the STS Foundation, Mr Kōji Omi,
Ministers and Officials,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is a great honour and a privilege to address this workshop dedicated to strengthening cooperation between Japan and Africa on science, technology and innovation.
I wish to extend my thanks and appreciation to Mr Koji Omi, Chairman of the STS Forum, for his pioneering role in forging international partnerships to enhance the role of technology in the development of society.
South Africa endorses the focus on science, technology and innovation as a priority theme for TICAD 7, given its great potential to accelerate African development through mutually beneficial partnerships with Japan.
Africa wishes to significantly expand science innovation and technology capacity and to create institutions that will advance our research agenda and directly link our science endeavours to our development priorities.
Such investment and expansion is critical if we are to achieve the priorities set out in our continent’s platform for action Agenda 2063. After all, it is science and innovation that produced vaccines that save the lives of millions of children on the continent. It is innovative technologies that allow expectant women to be diagnosed hundreds of miles away from a clinic and to receive treatment delivered using a drone.
Japan has achieved growth development and prosperity through dedicated investment in science and innovation for society.
South Africa has focused attention on increasing investment in research and innovation development. Our universities have been supported to train more post graduate students, our researchers have been supported through funding for dedicated research centers of excellence and over two hundred research chairs. We would like to see the existence of research intensive universities throughout the continent and intend to find partners to support the creation of research chairs to promote research throughout Africa.
We have utilized our research funding to focus on new drugs discovery for intractable diseases such as HIV, malaria and tuberculosis.
Innovation must however go beyond solutions for diseases we are keenly researching the development of new technology for innovation in agriculture, as well as encouraging the location of research infrastructure in Africa. Innovation also thrives through partnership between government and business.
It is therefore important not only to deepen cooperation between countries, but to ensure that industry is actively involved.
The global Square Kilometre Array (SKA) research infrastructure programme is a significant opportunity for South Africa and the eight countries that are partners in building the worlds largest and most sophisticated radio telescope. Young African engineers astrophysicists and software engineers are gaining critical innovation skills through SKA.
We seek more initiatives of this kind, we wish to encourage global pharmaceutical companies to locate at least one of their innovation laboratories in an African country and to invest in young full time African researchers.
The science and technology in society forum has successfully changed global discourse on the role of science in development we seek the forum support in changing the discourse on the role of Africa in science and innovation.
I look forward to receiving reports on the outcomes of this forum and the proposals you suggest we include as part of the continuing work of TICAD.
Thank you for inviting me to be part of this very important meeting.