South Africa: Women’s Conference Seeks Ways to Empower Communities

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Naledi-Pandor fNaledi Pandor, Minister for Science and Technology South Africa

Women in leadership positions have recently been challenged to look to the opportunities presented by science and technology to change the fortunes of their communities.

South Africa’s Science and Technology Minister Naledi Pandor said there are plenty of innovations that could be used to enhance health care, education, water provision, sanitation, energy supply and agriculture.

The Minister speaking at the 8th Annual Leadership Development for Women Conference in Johannesburg, cited a project funded by the Department of Science and Technology (DST) in Giyani, Limpopo, in which scientists and traditional healers are collaborating in studies on rose geranium to develop a network of rural-based oil production businesses.

The DST is working with the South African Essential Oil Business Incubator on the business aspects.

She also said there is a high global demand for rose geranium oil, and the DST project is developing crop for primary production processes that are cheaper and produce higher oil yields of the required quality.

The project is also making use of economic distillation technologies and is rolling out a comprehensive marketing programme to ensure the entry of rural products into mainstream markets, both locally and internationally.

Minister Pandor said South Africa’s national system of innovation is geared to support regional and local innovation systems, with universities central to regional innovation forums and science parks.

“Science parks can be extremely useful in promoting national and regional competitiveness but by themselves do not guarantee regional success. For science parks to succeed in promoting local economic growth, they must be fully integrated into the overall social and economic development strategy and context,” the Minister said.

South Africa’s science parks include the East London Industrial Development Zone, the Innovation Hub in Pretoria and a science park at the Vaal University of Technology.

The DST’s strategic objective is to develop regional innovation forums in each province to help set collective research priorities for the province and to elevate innovation as a driver for economic and social development



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