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S Africa Keen on Collaborating with BRICS Partners in Vaccine Manufacturing

S Africa Keen on Collaborating with BRICS Partners in Vaccine Manufacturing

South Africa is keen on strengthening collaboration with BRICS nations in the field of vaccine manufacturing, the hydrogen economy as well as the marine sciences, a minister said.

We are already working with the World Health Organisation through South Africa's hosting of mRNA vaccine technology transfer hub, but are also eager to work with BRICS partners, notably leveraging opportunities of our BRICS Vaccine R and D Centre, Minister of Higher Education, Science and Technology, Blade Nzimande, said at the 2023 BRICS Science, Technology and Innovation Ministerial meeting hosted in the coastal city of Gqeberha (formerly Port Elizabeth).

The minister said at the meeting, one of several taking place ahead of the 15th BRICS Summit later in August, that South Africa had made excellent progress in developing new hydrogen and fuel cell technologies and was keen on joining forces with BRICS partners in this enterprise.

Cooperation with partners in the Global South and strengthening multilateralism and solidarity through our BRICS science, technology and innovation partnership is, therefore, a priority of the highest order, Nzimande said at the meeting also attended by Dr SK Varshney, Head of International Cooperation in the Department of Science and Technology from India; Valery Falkov, Minister of Science and Higher Education of the Russian Federation; Wang Zhigang, Minister of Science and Technology of the People's Republic of China, and Inacio Arruda, Vice Minister of Science and Technology for Social Development from the Federative Republic of Brazil.

He also shared South Africa's Decadal Plan, which proposes a new dedicated programme on innovation for a healthy South African population. Nzimande quoted Nelson Mandela as he thanked other BRICS partners for their support.

President Nelson Mandela famously said: 'There is little favourable to be said about poverty, but it was often an incubator of true friendship. Many people will appear to befriend you when you are wealthy, but precious few will do the same when you are poor. If wealth is a magnet, poverty is a kind of repellent. Yet, poverty often brings out the true generosity in other people'."

In this regard, South Africa will always be grateful for the loyal and unwavering friendship and solidarity afforded to us by the peoples of Brazil, Russia, India and China during our long struggle for freedom and subsequently your consistent support since 1994 for the development of our country, and our ongoing fight against poverty, inequality and unemployment," the minister said. "We deeply value the contribution of our cooperation in science and innovation to make South Africa a better country, he said.

Nzimande said he was confident that the BRICS partners would join South Africa in the spirit of generosity that Mandela spoke about to develop science and innovation capacities across the African continent.

I would therefore like to invite all BRICS partners to join forces with South Africa, whether bilaterally or multilaterally, in advancing the Pan-African agenda for science and innovation, consistent with the BRICS spirit of solidarity and our commitment to development.

I believe that finding appropriate mechanisms for enabling cooperation and possible joint programmes between BRICS and African funders of research and innovation will be a strategic game-changer for science funding across Africa, he said.

The minister added that South Africa plans to leave a lasting legacy of its chairmanship of BRICS in 2023 with several other initiatives besides ongoing support for instruments such as the BRICS Framework Programme and the various science and technology thematic working groups.

This will include organising in December 2023 the occasion of our annual Science Forum South Africa, South Africa's biggest public science event, a first BRICS Conference on Technology Foresight hosted by our National Advisory Council on Innovation," he added.

Secondly, we will be supporting technical exchanges to deepen BRICS cooperation in the strategic area of indigenous knowledge systems, with a special focus on research, innovation and training for the responsible use of natural medicine, the minister said.

Business Standard
Source: www.business-standard.com

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