Pandor wants innovation in IT

2011-08-18 18:01

Cape Town - Internet Technology development remains important to South Africa, but the country is not yet on the frontier of innovation, Science and Technology Minister Naledi Pandor said.

"That does not mean that South Africa is reaping 'first-mover' dividends from R&D [research and development]. In fact, quite the contrary. Most of the IT R&D spend is for second-hand innovation. We are not on the frontier of IT innovation. We import technologies from abroad and adapt them for local use," Pandor told News24.

She was speaking at the IT Infrastructure Summit in Cape Town where delegates discussed how IT infrastructure could benefit public and private enterprises.

South Africa's broadband infrastructure is one of the keys to develop the economy and Pandor said that all universities and research institutions would soon have access to broadband.

Tax credits

"SANReN [South African National Research Network] is a high-speed network that enables and supports scientific and technological research. SANReN will quite soon provide broadband access to all universities, science councils, national research facilities.

"SANReN Phase I commenced in 2007 and, when complete, will connect at least 60 university campuses and research institutions across the country at very high speeds."

The minister hinted that she was intent on increasing tax credits to companies that engaged in technology innovation, similar to other countries, notably Australia.

"In Canada it's a $4.5bn a year tax credit and it's tweaked and expanded each year - not without controversy. In Australia it's even bigger.

"In South Africa it's only a R200m a year tax credit. We are working on improving the credit and Treasury is working on improving it in tandem with a new venture capital regime - announced in the budget this year.

"We can do more to encourage start-ups and it's in the IT and high tech sector that we see most of these developing," Pandor said.

One of the major technology projects in SA at the moment is the bid to host the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) telescope in the Northern Cape province.

Seven telescopes have already been built as an engineering test bed near Carnarvon and the next phase is the building of the MeerKAT, which will consist of 64 instruments.

The SKA will consist of over 3 000 linked radio telescopes and is a key driver of innovation and human capital development, said SA SKA project director Dr Bernie Fanaroff.

"One of the exciting things about the Square Kilometre Array is that it pushes the boundaries of technology and as such, it raises a lot of challenges which are very relevant to the ICT [internet, communications and technology] industry in the next two, three decades.

"By working on the Square Kilometre Array and on the MeerKAT as we're doing now, we're developing a group of young people who have skills and capabilities - not just in current technology - but in the next-generation technology," he said.

- Follow Duncan on Twitter

  • braamc - 2011-08-18 18:08

    This is one women I have lots of respect for.

      Bill - 2011-08-18 18:28


      Redwine - 2011-08-18 20:02

      Excuse me! This is the same woman that has only taken education downhill. She cannot list any of the above mentioned items as an achievement she has driven I would be surprized if she could put together a simple exel spreadsheet. Naledi go to Pune and Bangelure (in India if google dit not help)and ask all the worlds top IT companies why the prefer Chicken Tikka Masala instead of braaivleis. Youngsters with A+ Maths and Sciense fluant in hinglish that can put together a complex circuit with software in a day that rule the world with China. This while our future is banging trash cans for another pay increas the do not deserve.

      JasunX - 2011-08-18 20:26

      @Redwine It's not what she can do on an individual level - it's what she can observe and have implemented on a national scale. She did not say she is going to achieve this herself - she is merely encouraging the expansion of technology (that will increase quality of life and access to information) to those who are capable of implementing it. Read the article you douche-bag.

      Audacious12 - 2011-08-19 08:29

      Partnership guys. Get wise. Employ some bee candidates, or are you that thick?

      Taurusaurus - 2011-08-19 09:39

      Its because AA / BEE throws certified applicants to the curb if "candidates" (non-whites) allege to have the same qualifications, but in reality, do not. Don't get me wrong, there ARE some exceptional minds out there from various races, but throwing out the best in favor of "reparations" from more than 17 years ago is destroying this country's chance of ever holding the once-touted prestige of being the leading global IT-developing country. Let's look at the MeerKAT antenna array for example's sake. There are brilliant minds at work behind the project, and yet, the rest of our country's development in IT has ground to a snail's pace, dead stop, or simply shut down due to unqualified / under-qualified individuals gaining access to the company and then becoming liabilities - either by failing to contribute (and hindering work), or by damaging high cost equipment through lack of knowledge or carelessness. If Pandor wants something, she must stop demanding it and start ASKING NICELY, because as long as AA / BEE exists and the racial discrimination persists, the IT sector will continue to remain underdeveloped, trailing behind other countries, and remaining forced to import and "tweak" international technologies. Empower those who work hard, empower those with the refutable certified credentials, empower those with the knowledge and wisdom to contribute immensely in R&D, INSTEAD of empowering (paying money to) individuals based on their skin color!! Abolish AA / BEE.

  • norwich - 2011-08-18 19:20

    There is no shortage of innovation in IT in South Africa. I know of a number of world-class innovations. However, my colleagues and I have not succeeded in winning a tender ever. So we have been forced to ply our trade elsewhere. Fortunately our customers now include NASA and the US Navy! But we would have preferred to work closer to home. We are not evaluated as being sufficiently competent for the local market. If only someone could tell us how to tender in South Africa. Our approach appears to be fine internationally, but is their a course we can attend to sharpen our approach for local conditions?

      GT - 2011-08-18 19:35

      call up julius and get a "partner". Don't you read the papers?

  • biohazardsa - 2011-08-18 19:33

    this is brilliant, but i think we are getting ripped off currently for our interent, i'm in the uk at the moment, 40 pounds for 50mbps line and this includes line rental, and unshapped uncapped internet, we are getting raped for our telecommunications in our country

  • dagwood4455 - 2011-08-18 19:34

    nice idea by the Minister, it is just a pity that the Government has absolutely no idea HOW to actually get something DONE ... it is all just TALK TALK TALK ... form another committee and have another meeting or trip. ANC please stop talking and start doing, no wait you can't. At least then just create the right environment where business can get things done, Oh no, then the whites make money, we can't have that. ANC just stop your racism and let people with the right skills do the jobs, regardless of their skin colour or political affiliation. EVERYBODY WILL BE BETTER OF, including the poor. This is not rocket science (except if you think SA is an Animal Farm)

      dominik - 2011-08-18 22:09

      @Ammie, come again?

      MrT - 2011-08-19 09:03

      @Ammie, if it's us whites doing these jobs and not getting anywhere it's because your black government is hindering the process. We whites cannot get tenders unless we pay massive bribes. You guys are the majority and you still wallow in poverty, if you are unable to secure your future against a minority then you FAIL my friend.

      PinkAndProud - 2011-08-19 11:40

      Not sure who knows less about IT ... Ammie or the Pandor oussie.

  • BigMoose - 2011-08-18 19:56

    Why is News24 closing all the comments for the other stories?

  • Wollie - 2011-08-18 20:53

    She attended a conference and was sell something and now it becomes a wish list. This a typical South Africa tendency. At the end of the day it fails because it was not a consolidated effort and then tey say tehnolgy fails you or Africa is still living in the bushes.

  • pages:
  • 1