Discussing science, technology and innovation (STI) at the 6th Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (BRICS) STI ministerial meeting in Durban earlier this week, under the theme “Leveraging Science, Technology and Innovation through Inclusive Growth and Development”, South Africa is looking towards more collaborative programmes that will see BRICS countries share their ideas around development at grassroots level.
South African Minister of Science and Technology Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane said this week that Brazil and India had already succeeded in their grassroots development programmes and would be sharing their models with South Africa to allow for innovation and technology to reach people living in rural areas.
“Some of the countries here are doing very well at grassroots innovation, like India and Brazil. This is innovation done by young people in the communities and these young people who are not really scientists are coming up with ideas that can actually be main-streamed into the work that we do and government programmes.
“We want to expand on what India and Brazil have done and this platform gives us the opportunity to learn from our partners, so we don’t make the mistakes they made in achieving their goals,” she said.
One of South Africa’s objectives for the BRICS included a discussion on a virtual research centre, the fourth industrial revolution, and the promotion of women in science. “We are happy as South Africa, as a host, that we have been able to do quite a lot of work between ourselves and our partners, and we see our partnership growing and making a difference in the field of science, technology and innovation,” she said. Kubayi-Ngubane said without the BRICS platform, they would not be able to share ideas, programmes and research work.
“We can call upon researchers from all countries that belong to BRICS and can learn from each other. For example, if one country is doing well in vaccination research or biotechnology, we can share that research and we are able to implement the programmes in our country. Once we learn how others do it, it gives us the opportunity to try it knowing it has been tested,” Kubayi-Ngubane said.
The ministerial meeting adopted the Durban STI Declaration, the BRICS STI Action Plan 2018-2019 and the results of the Second Call for Proposals under the BRICS STI Framework Programme. Brazil’s Vice-Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation, Alvaro Toubes Prata, said things were moving fast in the science and technology fields, and people should prepare themselves for the changes. Prata said one of the challenges they faced was trying to empower and prepare people for the fourth industrial revolution - the digital revolution.
Brazil will take over as chairperson of the BRICS in the next rotational cycle. Prata said they were “very excited” to be taking over as chairperson of the BRICS union and will be depending heavily on South Africa for direction as they “will be passing the baton” to Brazil.
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