Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa.

Pretoria - The two-day Science Forum South Africa (SFSA), taking place in Pretoria, should inspire Africa's youth and spark a desire in young people to learn more in the field of science, Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Thursday. 

“Today and tomorrow [Thursday and Friday], millions of young people from our continent and across the world will be able to follow live on the internet our discussions and learn about inspiring, ground-breaking innovations. This Science Forum must rekindle hope in a world of unending possibilities, a world where imagination, innovation and scientific discovery allow us to dream of a better, more secure and more equitable future,” said Ramaphosa in his keynote address. 

“We are confident that it will move the youth of our continent to exploit the many opportunities that exist in scientific careers. We have a responsibility to develop a community of young people that believe there is a future for science in in South Africa and on the continent. They must see themselves as agents of development, working to redesign the urban environment, expanding transport networks and building new, more sustainable human settlements. They must see themselves as providing solutions on how best to return people to the land and build successful agricultural enterprises.” 

The deputy president 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. 

“We should never let the constraints of poverty and underdevelopment extinguish the imagination of young people. In a rapidly changing global economy, our continent must invest in the development of young scientists to reap the economic and social benefits of the fourth industrial revolution. The next industrial revolution must be inclusive.” 

The SFSA is regarded as Africa’s largest “open science” event, aimed at stimulating debate on the role of science in society.

The programme comprises plenary panel debates, short seminars and talks, with the participation of local and international thought leaders from the scientific community.

The national department of science and technology said 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.

Organised in 2017 for the third time, the SFSA has become an annual highlight for the South African science community, and has achieved global acclaim as Africa’s premier public platform for debate on science and its role in society.

Welcoming delegates to the summit South Africa’s Science and Technology Minister Naledi Pandor said ground-breaking scientific innovations were changing the African continent.

“This forum will cover a broad range of topical issues with regards to the role of science in society. Our forum has three primary objectives, first to put science in the service of African society. We believe it is through science that many of the challenges faced by our communities can be addressed. Secondly, we intend to promote international collaboration,” said Pandor.

“We believe it’s through 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.”