The South Africa Agency for Science and Technology Advancement (SAASTA) is a business unit of the National Research Foundation (NRF) with the mandate to advance public awareness, appreciation and engagement of science, engineering, innovation and technology in South Africa.

Science, through research, has a crucial role to play in the growth of South Africa’s economy. Active dialogue and engagement between science and society ensures that scientific research findings are easily translated into relevant, appropriate and beneficial innovation and entrepreneurial opportunities. Research findings should also have an impact on policy and social conditions in a country. This can only be achieved when science becomes a daily dialogue and discourse.

Science Engagement Strategy

The Science Engagement Strategy (SES) was approved by the Minister of Science and Technology in January 2015. The SES formalises and provides strategic direction to the science engagement programme led by the Department of Science and Technology (DST), which dates back to 1998. An SES Implementation Framework providing an overview of projects and initiatives towards the implementation of the SES was drafted and approved by Executive Committee of the DST in March 2015.

This document provides more detail on how the SES will be executed. The level of information provided in the Implementation Plan is adequate to inform the development of individual project implementation strategies, through either the conceptualisation of new project strategies or the alignment of existing projects and activities with the SES.The Implementation Plan will be reviewed every five years and adjusted accordingly.

White Paper on Science, Technology and Innovation

This White Paper, which is based on extensive review of the National System of Innovation (NSI), sets the long-term policy direction for the South African government to ensure a growing role for science, technology and innovation (STI) in a more prosperous and inclusive society. It focuses on using STI to accelerate inclusive economic growth, make the economy more competitive, and improve people’s daily lives. It aims to help South Africa benefit from global developments such as rapid technological advancement and geopolitical and demographic shifts, as well as respond to the threats associated with some of these global trends.

More than 20 years after the adoption of the 1996 White Paper on Science and Technology, South Africa needs an updated STI policy – for two main reasons. Firstly, while reviews show good progress in the implementation of the 1996 White Paper, South Africa has not yet fully benefited from the potential of STI to advance the objectives of the National Development Plan (NDP). To illustrate, the STI institutional landscape has been expanded and there has been a threefold increase in publications, significant growth in the participation of black people and women in the research and development (R&D) workforce, and a rise in doctoral graduation rates.