South Africa highlights the importance of EU research partnership to the developing world

November 18, 2002

Brussels, 15 Nov 2002

Representatives from the government of South Africa have called on the EU to continue its research partnerships with the developing world as a tool for social and economic progress in those areas.

A senior figure from the South African government's Department of Science and Technology issued a statement at the Sixth Framework Programme (FP6) launch conference in Brussels on 13 November, saying that collaborations should aim to strengthen global science and address some of the particular issues faced by the developing world.

Dr Adi Patterson, the Department's Deputy Director General, said that 'this conference symbolises the developed world's consciousness of the importance of science and technology, and we would like to achieve the same thing in the developing world.'

Echoing comments made earlier in the day by the South African Minister for Arts, Culture, Science and Technology, Ben Ngubane, Dr Patterson expressed his disappointment at 'the reduction of funds earmarked for collaboration with developing countries under FP6, especially coming so soon after the world summit on sustainable development in Johannesburg.'

Dr Patterson did, however, welcome what he saw as a move away 'from a 'fortress Europe' mentality at the beginning of the conference towards a much stronger emphasis on partnership and cooperation.'

In answer to a question from CORDIS News on the ways in which the EU gains from research collaboration with South Africa, Dr Patterson highlighted the country's strong knowledge in resource-based industries such as agricultural and mining research. He also identified a real willingness to share knowledge with South Africa's international partners.

The areas in which South Africa needs to improve its capacities, according to Dr Patterson, include biotechnology, and particularly information and communication technologies (ICTs). He pointed out that 98 per cent of the ICT industry in South Africa relies on imported goods.

When asked what changes to the structure of FP6 he thought would benefit developing countries, Dr Patterson told CORDIS News: 'I like the idea of more large-scale programmes because the amount of administration involved is little more when compared with smaller ones.' He welcomed the increased focus on scientific excellence as a positive move, and hoped that it would encourage the clustering of resources in South Africa, but warned that demonstrating the required level of expertise 'could be difficult depending on the status of the particular developing country.'

For further information, please consult the following web address: http://www.dst.gov.za/

CORDIS RTD-NEWS/© European Communities, 2001

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