Last week NEPAD SANBio participated in the Science Forum South Africa 2017 (SFSA 2017). The SFSA is regarded as Africa’s largest “open science” event, aimed at stimulating debate on the role of science in society. The programme consisted of plenary panel debates, short seminars and talks, with the participation of local and international thought leaders from the scientific community as well as an exhibition.
The forum has a special focus on promoting pan-African cooperation in science and technology, and on the role of innovation in promoting inclusive development. At the event, South Africa's Minister of Science and Technology Naledi Pandor emphasised the point that science is indeed best not done in isolation: “We believe it’s through [international] collaboration that our ties are strengthened, that science not only becomes stronger in Africa, but globally and that ground-breaking research is enabled. Thirdly, we wish to showcase African science and technology to the world. We want to change the way they talk about us.”
The event’s key note speech was given by the South African Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa. Among other points, he urged the youth of our continent to exploit the many opportunities that exist in scientific careers. He noted that collectively we have a responsibility to develop a community of young people that believe there is a future for science in South Africa and on the continent: “[The youth] must see themselves as agents of development, as providing solutions on how best to return people to the land and build successful agricultural enterprises.”
Ramaphosa further said the South African government hoped the science community would increasingly enter into partnerships with young entrepreneurs on the continent to support the development and sustainability of innovative businesses.
“We look to you to lead the way in harnessing the immense potential of our youth. In my interactions with young South Africans at our colleges, research institutions and science expos, I have encountered inspiring young people who are involved in cutting edge research and innovation. These stories of success – of young people who often come from impoverished backgrounds – demonstrate that indeed young people can reach the pinnacle of their potential if we support and nurture their dreams,” said Ramaphosa.
He continued by stating that we should never let the constraints of poverty and underdevelopment extinguish the imagination of young people and that our continent must invest in the development of young scientists to reap the economic and social benefits of the fourth industrial revolution.
These salient points are easy to agree with.
The image gallery can be found here.