The National Advisory Council on Innovation (NACI), has released the 2016 Science Technology and Innovation (STI) Indicators Report which provides data about the performance of the country’s system of innovation. The report is released annually.
The 2016 STI indicators report is based on the analysis of the National System of Innovation performance during the period between 1996 and 2016. The Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) Indicators report is released annually by NACI an entity of the Department of Science and Technology.
NACI is a statutory body that advises the Minister for Science and Technology and, through the Minister, Cabinet, on the role and contribution of science, mathematics, innovation and technology, in promoting and achieving national objectives, namely, to improve and sustain the quality of life of all South Africans.
The 2016 STI indicators report identifies areas of progress but also points to the lack of progress in certain areas of the NSI.
First, the NSI human capital pipeline remains constrained. The percentage of matric learners who passed mathematics and physical science with at least 50% remains low. The proportion of matric female learners passing mathematics and physics with at least 60% has been declining from 2008 to 2016. Unsurprisingly then, the undergraduate percentage SET enrolment has remained stagnant between 2005 (29.4%) and 2015 (29.7%). Notwithstanding, at the postgraduate level, the proportion of science engineering and technology (SET) enrolment as percentage of total student enrolments has increased between 2005 and 2015.
Second, there has been notable progress in the expansion and transformation of research capacity. The percentage of female researchers (full time equivalent) increased from 2001/02 (38.4%) to 2014/15 (44.1%). The proportion of female academic staff with doctoral degrees increased between 2005 (30.4%) and 2014 (39.1%) and the proportion of black (African, Coloured and Indian) female academic staff with also increased albeit slightly.
Third, the international benchmarking of mobile cellular subscriptions indicates that South Africa is doing well in diffusing ICT access through mobile cellular devices per 100 people. This is an important step if South Africa seize the opportunities and benefits of digitisation and the fourth industrial revolution or new production revolution.
Fourth, the R&D intensity or business expenditure on R&D in the agricultural sector increased from 0.29% in 2003/04 to 0.66% in 2014/15. This is welcomed given the declining R&D intensity in manufacturing and other key industrial sectors on the one hand; and the importance of strengthening research and innovation related to food security on the other hand.
Fifth, there has been notable progress in knowledge generation. South Africa’s world share of publications increased from 0.39% in 1996 to 0.69% in 2015.
Coinciding with the release of this report, is work being done by government in reviewing the current 1996 White Paper on Science and Technology and developing the new White Paper on Science Technology and Innovation (STI). The 2016 STI indicators report can provide necessary input into the current policy development process.
For the full report go to www.dst.gov.za
NACI also launched the National Science, Technology and Innovation Information Portal (NSTIIP) which makes use of the developments in information technology to collect and curate innovation-related data and information about the national system of innovation (NSI) to an easily accessible central repository.
The NSTIIP will be a single point of access for all stakeholders to draw and deposit information on measures and analyses of all aspects of the national system of innovation in South Africa. To access portal go to http://www.naci.org.za/nstiip/