Academics and policy makers mobilise to transform innovation in South Africa

The programme addressed aims in a national White Paper for Science, Technology and Innovation to help boost development


Science, technology and innovation has a key role to play in enhancing development and improving the quality of life of people in Africa.

This was the view of over 140 experts taking part in a three-day TIPC forum to help transform the region’s science, technology and innovation systems.

Towards a community of practice

The event was delivered in partnership with South Africa’s Department for Science and Innovation and National Research Foundation.

It was an important milestone in the country’s drive to build a community of change agents. Over 40 agencies, organisations and projects working to boost development through research and innovation were represented, including:

  • Association for Water and Rural Development
  • British Council
  • Council for Scientific and Industrial Research
  • Development Bank of Southern Africa
  • German Research Foundation
  • Human Sciences Research Council
  • International Development Research Centre
  • Ministry of Higher Education, Science and Technology
  • National Advisory Council on Innovation
  • Southern African Development Community
  • South African National Biodiversity Institute
  • Technology Innovation Agency
  • United Nations Development Programme
  • Water Research Commission

Practitioners described how the theories and tools developed by researchers have been applied to a national portfolio of projects to enhance their transformative potential.

In one session, leaders of the Living Catchments Project shared learnings from a 14-week ‘policy experiment’ with TIPC to strengthen the country’s water system. The collaboration will support the project’s aims to confront water scarcity in South Africa over a 10-year period between 2015 and 2025.

Mapula Tsangela, Director of Climate Change Mitigation Sector Plan Implementation with South Africa’s Department of Environmental Affairs, leading a session at the forum

Outside of South Africa, a meeting led by the Southern African Development Community set out steps towards a TIP regional hub, while TIPC associate members from Ghana, Kenya and Senegal provided insights on implementation of TIP through the Virtual University in Senegal, Ghana’s E-Waste Management System and Nomadic Education in Kenya.

TIPC members from other regions joined researchers for an evening ‘digital fireside’, introducing transformative policy approaches in Norway, Latin America and across Europe in partnership with the EIT Climate-KIC Transitions Hub.

Dr Chux Daniels, TIPC Africa Director and Senior Research Fellow at SPRU said, ‘TIPC research and policy engagements are helping to transform STI ecosystem in Africa and beyond. TIP methodology and approach to STI policymaking continues to receive wide interest from actors and stakeholders across Africa. This forum has provided an opportunity for rich discussions, co-learning from the TIP Africa work, co-creation of possible solutions to address Africa’s pressing challenges, and co-development of ideas that will inform the next phase of TIPC work in Africa.’

‘There was a tremendous response to the forum from researchers, funders and practitioners in the region,’ said Victoria Shaw, TIPC Programme Director. ‘The programme enabled existing policy experiments to connect, while allowing for critical reflection on theory and implementation, and laid the ground for an active community of practice.’

For more information, visit TIPC learning, training and capacity building.

Take an overview of the 2020 Forum’s themes and sessions with our Wakelet piece on the event. More to follow soon….