Chairperson’s Overview, Prof. Cheryl de la Rey
During the second half of 2014, the Minister of Science and Technology, Honourable Ms Naledi Pandor appointed a new chairperson and members of NACI. To have the opportunity to advise the Minister of Science and Technology, the Honourable Naledi Pandor and through the Minister, the Ministers’ Committee and Cabinet is an immense honour. At our very first meeting with the Minister in September 2014, the significance of our responsibilities was clearly articulated and as a newly appointed Council, we began our work with enthusiasm and a strong sense of purpose. Our overarching goal is to provide useful advice to accelerate the contribution of science, technology and innovation to the realization of the national goals as expressed in the National Development Plan.
During the inauguration of the Council in August 2014 the Minister identified a number of priority areas where advice is needed. A Review of the White Paper on Science and Technology as well as a new decadal plan, are among the projects to be undertaken as agreed with the Minister. This exciting and ambitious new work plan necessitated some reprioritization of projects for the 2014/15 year. Furthermore, the Council decided to diversify its mode of operation to enhance the responsiveness and relevance of its advice.
A rapid advice system is part of the new programme of work that the Council initiated to be implemented from the 2015/16 financial year. This system will allow NACI to use available expertise and meta-analyses of existing knowledge to identify solutions for the immediate challenges identified within the national system of innovation. Of course, for wide-ranging objectives and where knowledge on an issue or topic is scant, then NACI will undertake or commission research. A notable development in this regard in 2014 was the Memorandum of Understanding signed with the Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf).
Several other notable achievements for the 2014/15 reporting year are covered in this Annual Report. Since our appointment to the Council took effect during the 2014/15 financial year, many of the achievements are due to the leadership and efforts of the previous Chairperson and Council. On behalf of the current Council, I wish to express our appreciation to the outgoing Chairperson, Dr Steve Lennon and all the members who served with him. The NACI Secretariat played a key role in ensuring a smooth transition and we are most grateful for their hard work and dedication.
As a new Council, we are fortunate to have a strong foundation to support our current and future work plans. We look forward to a busy and productive 2015/16 period.