Higher Education, Science and Innovation Deputy Minister, Buti Manamela, says a sharp focus on artificial intelligence, machine learning and future skills is needed to enhance the objectives of the Young Scientist Forum (YSF).
“Further to this, we also believe that consideration must be given to the human and social sciences.
“We believe that all these areas of focus are critical for the development of all BRICS countries and essential for their resilience and the long-term psychological well-being of their respective populations,” the Deputy Minister said on Wednesday.
Manamela was speaking in Gqeberha, Eastern Cape, where he was delivering the closing remarks at the BRICS YSF.
The three-day event is a platform where participants zoom into transforming skills development for the future, climate change and environmental sustainability, and the future of society.
Organised by the Department of Science and Innovation’s entities, the Technology Innovation Agency (TIA) and the Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf), the forum also hosted the Young Innovators Prize from Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa to reward innovations with societal benefit.
Fifty South African scientists under the age of 40 were among 200 Master’s and PhD students discussing themes aligned with South Africa’s societal challenges.
“The BRICS Young Scientist Forum has become an important platform for critical reflection by young scientists, researchers, innovators and entrepreneurs on some of the most urgent challenges of our time.
“As South Africa, we are particularly pleased that this year’s BRICS forum upheld the tradition of focusing on such critical global issues as climate change, environmental sustainability, the future of education, mindset, and skillset, and the future of society,” Manamela said.
Another issue he believes deserves attention is the creation of strong YSF engagements with current and past cohorts.
The Deputy Minister also proposed the establishment of an alumni forum of YSF participants from BRICS countries.
He said he was also pleased that the five installments of the BRICS Young Innovator Prize have been held successfully.
“This prize has become an important stage for young people in BRICS countries to showcase their innovation talents and strengthen exchanges and cooperation with peers.”
The winners, he said, will be announced and awarded at a dinner by Higher Education, Science and Innovation Minister, Dr Blade Nzimande.
The winner will walk away with US $25 000 (R463 926), while the second prize is $15 000 (R278 356) and the third prize is $10 000 (R 185 571).
“To enhance the prestige of this prize, it is important that we continually improve the resourcing of this initiative in support of innovation improvement in the BRICS countries,” Manamela said.
He is also of the view that there is a need to increase the scope and thematic areas to resonate with the economic development of the BRICS countries and identify thematic areas that support developmental growth, especially the alleviation of poverty.
Manamela thanked the TIA and ASSAf for the sterling work of organising this year’s forum and innovation prize.
“Our gratitude also goes to the representatives of the various BRICS countries and our various esteemed guest speakers, who enriched our understanding of a number of critical issues that face our various countries and humanity today.
“It is our hope that the outcome of the 8th YSF BRICS Forum and the ideas presented by our young innovators will enhance the resolve of BRICS countries to improve the quality of life of the people in the global south.”
The YSF precedes the 2023 BRICS Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) Ministerial Meeting, which takes place on Friday, 4 August, under the theme ‘BRICS and Africa: Partnership for Mutually Accelerated Growth, Sustainable Development, and Inclusive Multilateralism’.
The BRICS STI Ministerial Meeting is part of a series of activities leading up to South Africa’s hosting of the 15th BRICS Summit in August 2023. – SAnews.gov.za