Platform for African – European Partnership in Agricultural Research for Development

Thursday, September 20, 2012

High-level Conference on Innovation for Poverty Alleviation

South Africa's innovative edge will be sharpened 
through continued involvement in global scientific 
and technological advancement, said president Jacob Zuma.
Presentation by Daan du Toit: SA in the
Frame Work Programme Agriculture and
related research
18-19 September 2012. Sheraton Hotel Brussels. Organised by the South African Mission to the European Union. The conference on Innovation for Poverty Alleviation was organised as side event to the fifth South Africa – EU Summit. The Conference presented the European Union’s development cooperation programme on “Innovation for Poverty Alleviation” with the South African Department of Science Technology (DST).

The event, organised by the DST in partnership with the European Commission, included a keynote closing address by His Excellency, President Jacob Zuma, President of the Republic of South Africa (see his speech) as well as contributions from the European Commissioner for Development, Commissioner Andris Piebalgs (see his speech) and South Africa’s Minister of Science and Technology, Her Excellency, Minister Naledi Pandor.

Within the framework of the South Africa -European Union Strategic Partnership, there is a shared policy conviction that science and technology are critical instruments for sustainable growth and development, which also play an essential role in poverty alleviation efforts. It is against this background that 'Innovation for Poverty Alleviation' programme has been developed. It is funded for an amount of €30 million by the EU and implemented by the DST, to complement and enhance the Department’s programmes to deploy science and technology and harness innovation to fight poverty in South Africa. ( See: 20/09: Tech innovation gets €30m).

The Conference included presentations of success stories implemented under the cooperation programme, for example related to support for innovative ICT platforms to bring connectivity to remote rural areas. In this regard the “wireless mesh network” project provides 185 schools and 60 000 citizens with connectivity, with the support of 17 new small enterprises established in these communities.

Other examples included technology transfer partnerships, including with industry, to foster the creation of sustainable community owned enterprises in poverty-stricken areas. These enterprises are for example active in sectors such as essential oils and medicinal plants.

Proceedings concluded with a panel discussion on how science and technology’s potential to contribute to poverty alleviation could best be leveraged under the South Africa – EU Strategic Partnership, as well as under the broader Joint Africa-EU Strategy. This discussion was especially relevant for the current consideration of the development of new cooperation instruments (of which Horizon 2020).

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