South Africa's research and development spending not on target

Palimino

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South Africa's research and development spending not on target

South Africa's spending on research and development (R&D) has dropped slightly in terms of GDP for the second year running.

Weep! I spent over a decade in an R&D facility. Our premier scientific institute (the CSIR) also produces, highly dubious, output. I would never in a million, trillion years risk my life with anything the CSIR produces now.

The SA government is fond of pontificating about how they have the capacity to do this or that in finance, medicine, technology etc. **They don’t**. Throwing money at the problem can’t solve it. Much of the bragging is due to skilled teams, assembled over years. In their hurry to implement AA and BEE, the government broke-up most teams. Team members left the country, went into other employment etc., never to be assembled again. In some cases the infrastructure may exist (this is a tool), but the capability rested on the shoulders of highly skilled teams and individuals, the product of much money and years of mistakes and experience. A dumbed-down degree, good political connections and a black face just won’t cut it (like putting a paint brush in the hands of a house painter and expecting a Mona Lisa).
 

X-Gamer

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...The SA government is fond of pontificating about how they have the capacity to do this or that in finance, medicine, technology etc. **They don’t**. Throwing money at the problem can’t solve it. Much of the bragging is due to skilled teams, assembled over years. In their hurry to implement AA and BEE, the government broke-up most teams. ...

That I agree with, I once sat in on a conversation a few of our lecturers were having, discussing the government/Africa and they had the same conclusion.
The rest of your post, not so much.

Oh and Naledi Pandor is an idiot. Minister of Education? FAIL. Minister of Science/Tech? FAIL in the making.
 

Palimino

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That I agree with, I once sat in on a conversation a few of our lecturers were having, discussing the government/Africa and they had the same conclusion.
The rest of your post, not so much.

Why?
 

dlk001

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Weep! I spent over a decade in an R&D facility. Our premier scientific institute (the CSIR) also produces, highly dubious, output.

Sounds like we both worked for same boss before! You are right there are many issues CSIR faces. Some are unique to divisions while some are cross the board. I worked for NRE, formerly CSIR Mining Technology Division and we produced very good outputs. Without CSIR Mining Technology, there would never exist programs like Deepmine, Coaltech 2020, Platmine which have contributed immensely in mining industry. The biggest problems with our division were:

- after Dr. Geoff Gareth, there has been lack of leadership and vision in the CSIR. It was apparent during Geoff days that things were deteriorating but Sibisi was not the right appointment in my view.

- decrease in industry participation in technology transfer. this step is crucial during proposal stages of any research project else the findings remain at the library.

- when i worked at CSIR, our recoverable target was something like 2.7. this means CSIR is running at overhead costs of 1.7 times a person's salary. so a lot government and industry money goes to paying huge overheads. this will affect research quantity and quality outputs.

- succession policy: the is a big gap between seasoned professionals and young researchers with little middle-level professionals. this means there is not enough time to transfer knowledge to young researchers. again this affects quantity and quality of research outputs.

- staff retention: due to many reasons, old and new people tend to leave the CSIR for greener pastures. CSIRO (Australia), CANMET (Canada), NIOSH (USA) are experiencing similar problems. Interestingly, Geoff Gareth (former CSIR CEO) left SA to head CSIRO.

I will be interested to hear from a University and Private R&D point of view.
 
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