23 March, 2018
A speech delivered by the minister of Science and Technology, Mrs Mamoloko Kubayi-Nguban, at the launch of the Bio-Reinery at the CSIR campus in eThekwini
Phil Mjwara - DG of Science and Technology
Board - Antonio Llobell, Philip Goyns, Adv Ghandi Badela
Thulani Dlamini - CEO, CSIR
Group Executives - Zanele Ngwepe, Sithembile Bhengu, and Dr Molefi Motuku
Bhekokwakhe Phewa - Office of the Mayor, Durban
Jonas Mphepya - Acting Executive Director: NRE
Jane Molony - Executive Director, Paper Manufacturers Association of SA;
International Council for Forest and Paper Associations
Nelson Sefara - Technology Centre Manager, Sappi
Johan de Graaf - Executive Manager: Strategy and Innovation, Hans Merensky
Janice Dewar - CEO, SMRI
Nomvuzo Tembe - CEO, eThala Management Services
Mmboneni Muofhe - DST
Deresh Ramjugernath - Deputy Vice Chancellor, UKZN
Lungile Mabece - Chairperson, SAFCOL Board;
South African economy has been experiencing pedestrian growth levels in the
recent years. In fact, our economy has never fully recovered from the 2008
global economic crisis. As a result of the poor economic growth our triple
challenges, unemployment, poverty and inequality seem insurmountable. However,
the challenges that we are experiencing as a country present us with an
opportunity to put more emphasis on our national innovation system for that is how
we will generate new avenues for growth. This is because we know that in order
to make a dent in the unemployment rate and poverty and subsequently inequality,
the economy needs to grow at about 6%.
Africa, like all other countries of the world, faces enormous challenges of
energy and food security, climate change and greening of the economy. To this
end, South Africa has been developing a range of policy mechanisms all of which
are intended to enhance the development of sustainable industries, protect environments
and food resources, and to mitigate against climate change. Some of these
initiatives include the Biofuel Industrial Strategy, the Bio-economy Strategy,
The Green Economy Accord and Industrial Policy Action Plan. This is a part of
the effort towards the realization of the National Development Plan.
National Development plan has noted that for South Africa to sharpen its
innovative edge it "requires greater investment in research and development,
better use of existing resources, and more nimble institutions that facilitate
innovation and enhanced cooperation between public science and technology
institutions and the private sector". As a custodian of the National System of
Innovation, the Department of Science and Technology has been playing a leading
role in transforming the South African economy into a knowledge based economy.
In doing this, we recognize that government alone cannot achieve this
transformation without the participation of the private sector. This initiative
we are launching today exemplifies what can be achieved when government and the
private sector work together.
believe that "The extent to which developing economies emerge as economic
powerhouses depends on their ability to grasp and apply insights from science
and technology and use them creatively" as the NDP also noted. Developing our
industrial capacity at the back of our scientific research as a nation depends
on a strong partnership between government and the private sector. A strategic challenge for innovation policy
is the need for alignment and strategic partnerships, especially between
government and industry, not only in South Africa but across the world. In
response to this challenge, there has been an explosion of various kinds of
public private partnerships in research and innovation. In particular, partnerships
are necessary in the forestry and paper and pulp sectors, as both nationally
and internationally, these sectors are under financial strain.
to the OECD, the fundamental rationale of most public private partnerships (PPPs)
in research and innovation is to leverage broader economic and social benefits
from joint investments. This helps to accelerate innovation and the development
technological solutions that are essential for addressing key challenges in growing
the economy and achieving societal wellbeing.
help build new innovation capabilities, improve connectivity within the national
innovation systems and most importantly, PPPs help create a collaborative
environment to maximize cross-disciplinary expertise among government,
academic, and industry researchers. Over the last few years, our department has
led and supported a vital part of this explosive growth of PPPs in South
Africa. We have put in place a package of instruments and initiatives that are
demonstrate our commitment to the PPPs, we have introduced new initiatives such
as Industry Innovation Centres, Sector Innovation Funds, the wheat breeding
platform, and the soon to be launched Mining Precinct building on existing
efforts by the DST and the DTI including programmes such as the THRIP, and the
technology stations programme.
Bio-refinery Industrial Development Facility (BIDF) that we are launching today
is a good example of strategic support from government to a science council
that has the potential to lead to long-term sustainable public private
partnerships. Partnerships that have the potential to make a fundamental
contribution to addressing the triple challenge of poverty, inequality, and
facility will enable cutting-edge Research development and demonstration
(RD&D) biorefinery initiatives for the use of lignocellulosic biomass waste
to produce valuable products; up-scaling, piloting and demonstration of
bio-refinery technologies. It will further promote inter-and multi-
disciplinary research co-operations amongst key players and facilitate the
training of skilled researchers and engineers in the biorefinery field as well
as integration and activation of rural based bio-refinery facilities, to enable
farmers and grassroots communities to participate and benefit from the implementation
of the Bio-economy strategy through biomass supply, technology localisation and
are a number of biorefinery programmes that have been identified for South
Africa and these include:
Waste (green) bio-refinery
the BIDF is not only responding to the Bio-economy Strategy but also to the
Waste Research, Development and Innovation Roadmap. One of the priority waste streams in the
Waste Research, Development & Innovation (RDI) Roadmap is Organic Waste.
These include waste agricultural biomass as well as, for example, chicken
feathers. Chicken feathers represent a
large waste stream in South Africa with more than a billion broilers
slaughtered in South Africa in 2013. The keratin in chicken feathers has
numerous applications once extracted.
From shampoos to textiles, the conversion of this waste stream into
value-added products will help drive a circular economy in South Africa. The BIDF has a critical role to play in
building a circular economy through the development of innovative industries
transforming what is now known as waste into valuable resources. The Waste RDI
Roadmap is a strategy of government to unlock a potential R17 billion per annum
into the South African economy, and the BIDF is an instrument to help us
realise that vision.
jobs will be created by supporting SMMEs who are interested in localisation of
technologies from production of high value products from waste wood biomass. For example, RSA currently imports xylitol, a
low caloric sweetener that is beneficial for diabetics. The BIDF is developing technologies for
extraction of this compound from saw dust waste and these technologies are
suitable for uptake by SMMEs.
broadly, the Bio-refinery will contribute towards the realization of the DST's
main objective of establishing critical mass and world class competency through
the technology development value chain, comprising basic and applied research
as well as technology translation and commercialization actions within the
industrial bio-economy sector.
pleased to note that the BIDF is only the start of a journey towards the
strengthening the innovation infrastructure in South Africa. Even as we launch
the current centre, other teams at the CSIR at hard at work operationalizing
two more centres that we are confident we will launch in the next 12-18 months.
These include a centre in photonics and another one in the development of
would like to take this opportunity to thank the researchers, technology
developers and the executive of the CSIR for making these centres a reality.
Equally important is my thanks to the CSIR for working closely with our
department to look at how the institutional design of the centres can be
optimized to make the greatest possible impact whilst securing support and
commitment from the private sector, provincial and local governments, and from
other national government departments.
CSIR, through a process of rigorous reflection and assessment as part of
Project Synapse has identified a range of exciting and value-adding initiatives
that it plans to drive over the next few years.
confident that the plans that they have developed will resonate with key partners
in the private sector, provincial and local government, other national
government departments as well as other key stakeholders in the industrial
development space such as the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) and the
Public Investment Corporation (PIC). I look forward to getting feedback on the
partnerships that are emerging as a result of these efforts.
would like to end by re-iterating my commitment to further strengthening
partnerships with the private sector as well as partnerships with provincial
and local government and other national government departments. It's time for
all us to work together. Let us heed President Ramaphosa's call for all us to
the time to lend a hand.
the time for each of us to say ‘send me'.