Minister in the Presidency Jeff Radebe says BRICS countries must continue to embrace innovation as a key driver for economic growth.
“Innovation is a powerful engine for development and for addressing social and global challenges. I can also affirm that innovation is centrally located in South Africa’s long term economic growth strategy, which includes a focus on the pharmaceutical industry, indigenous knowledge and rich biodiversity,” said Minister Radebe.
The Minister was speaking at the official opening of the third annual InnovaBRICS [Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa] conference in London recently.
Minister Radebe said South Africa was determined to develop its research capacity to fuel innovation to drive economic growth. The country would also have a special focus on development programmes to support young, female and black researchers.
“In that regard, we are putting in place an ambitious programme to develop the next generation of academics and researchers. Over the next five years, our target is to spend 1,5 per cent of GDP [gross domestic product] on research and development.”
Minister Radebe led the South African delegation at the conference, which included the Ministers of Trade and Industry Rob Davies, Finance Nhlanhla Nene and Communications Faith Muthambi.
South Africa used the conference as a platform to popularise its National Development Plan, which is the blueprint for ending poverty and reducing inequality by 2030.
“The NDP aims to unlock the institutional, human and structural impediments to higher growth in the country. It offers a framework for faster growth and socio-economic transformation. The BRICS countries are an important part of this strategy,” said Minister Radebe.
He said InnovaBRICS was a unique opportunity to promote closer cooperation between BRICS countries to support South Africa’s growth, development and poverty reduction objectives.
He said the BRICS grouping was not only one of the most recognised in the world but it also constituted in excess of a quarter of global GDP.
BRICS countries account for 43 per cent of the world’s population and hold 40 per cent of global currency reserves, estimated at around US$4,4 trillion.
South Africa also expressed its commitment to developing infrastructure that connects it to the rest of the continent, as part of the African Union’s Presidential Infrastructure Championing Initiative.