The honorable minister of science and technology in South Africa recently stressed the importance of stepping up investment in science and technology, if they are to remain competitive in a fast changing world. In her words “The funding of Science and Technology must be improved if we are to realize our ambitious national goal of building knowledge based economy.
One of the areas that must be addressed is increased support for post graduate study and for senior researchers plus a more stable funding model for all our research performing institutions” . South Africa is one of Africa’s most developed nations. Today South Africa is following the steps of the US in trying to build a knowledge based economy where economic growth is driven by information and knowledge creation and easy transfer as provided by a strong ICT platform.
The most significant development affecting business operations in the second half of the twentieth century has been the emergence of the new economy or knowledge economy. The new economy, speaks of an economy where wealth is generated by information technology and knowledge. It is an open economy affected by globalization, rapid changes in financial markets, deregulation, the expansion of communications, innovative financial engineering, improvements in technology and increased market volatility. New economies are based on the production and distribution of knowledge
Technological developments after the Second World War, such as the development of the transistor, microprocessors, satellites and the computer, led to new capabilities in the provision of information. The capture, analysis and dissemination of information have altered the ways in which businesses operate . The South African Government as a matter of policy supports the formation of ICT clusters in different regions as well as advances in science technology and innovation since it gained independence.
South Africa is the economic powerhouse of Africa, leading the continent in industrial output and mineral production and generating a large proportion of Africa’s electricity.
The Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in South Africa expanded 4.8 percent in the first quarter of 2011 over the previous quarter. From 1993 until 2010, South Africa’s average quarterly GDP Growth was 3.27 percent reaching an historical high of 7.60 percent in December of 1994 and a record low of -7.40 percent in March of 2009.
South Africa has a two-tiered economy; one rivaling other developed countries and the other with only the most basic infrastructure. It is therefore a productive and industrialized economy that exhibits many characteristics associated with developing countries, including a division of labor between formal and informal sectors and an uneven distribution of wealth and income. The primary sector, based on manufacturing, services, mining, and agriculture, is well developed .
Not only is South Africa itself an important emerging economy, it is also the gateway to other African markets. The country plays a significant role in supplying energy, relief aid, transport, communications and investment on the continent. Its well-developed road and rail links provide the platform and infrastructure for ground transportation deep into Africa.