South Africa Pumps R800m Into Research

Research in South Africa
SA scientists in the MeerKAT control room

AFRICANGLOBE– South Africa’s Science and Technology Minister Derek Hanekom has approved the transfer of R798-million to South Africa’s National Research Foundation (NRF) for human resource development over the next three years.

This is to strengthen South Africa’s postgraduate training, research and innovation, and to improve the country’s global competitiveness.

As approved in the medium term expenditure framework (MTEF), the Department of Science and Technology will allocate the additional R87-million, R310-million and R401-million to NRF programmes in the 2012/13, 2013/14 and 2014/15 financial years respectively.

The department has identified new-generation researchers, emerging researchers and established researchers as key components of South Africa’s human capital pipeline, and will invest heavily in the development of human capital in each sector.

New-generation researchers are set to get R450-million, while emerging researchers will get R196-million and postgraduate bursaries R340-million.

The allocation will enhance funding for postgraduate students in the country by improving the per capita bursary values and increasing the number of funded students, thus boosting the postgraduate pipeline retention in scarce and critical knowledge areas.

The NRF’s internship programme will receive an increased allocation of R110-million over the next three years.

The department has supported the placement of an average of 250 graduate interns annually.

In an effort to increase this figure and enhance the race, gender and age profiles of productive researchers, the department will strengthen its support for emerging researchers by increasing investment in programmes such as once-off research development grants for qualifying young, black and/or women researchers with a valid NRF Y-rating.

Research career advancement fellowships will be offered to senior post-doctoral fellows, who will be groomed for eventual research leadership positions and as potential candidates for the South African Research Chairs Initiative.

The targets for allocation will be 50 percent women and 80 percent Black individuals to bring about transformation in scientific leadership.

These funds will provide funding for two centres of excellence that were previously not fully funded, as well as for the establishment of six new centres of excellence.