A Holistic Barometer for Measuring the Impact of Science, Technology and Innovation in South Africa
Mfanelo Pat Ntsobi*
Sci-Bono Discovery Centre, South Africa
*Corresponding Author: Mfanelo Pat Ntsobi, Sci-Bono Discovery Centre, South Africa.
Published: January 04, 2024
In South Africa, adopting a paradigm of “Futuristic Science Engagement" is particularly important. It is about finding that intricate balance between hindsight, insight and foresight. In other words, such a paradigm can be synthesised through the combination of learnings from the past, accurate analysis of the present, and a holistic vision for the future. Indeed, the world is changing rapidly, evolving in real-time, partly due to the ingenuity and innovations of science practitioners. However, within the broader context of Science, Technology and Innovation (STI), there are many actors and agents, experts and laypeople alike, who feed into the country’s National System of Innovation (NSI). Inputs into the NSI to cultivate and generate synergistic outputs include the political, economic, and social, over and above the STI aspects. This paper proposes a holistic barometer for measuring the impact of STI interventions. It argues that a synthesis of futuristic science, if defined as a convergence of hindsight, insight and foresight, requires an integrated approach that includes policy imperatives, socio-economic imperatives, epistemological imperatives, and ethical imperatives. To this end, the historical journey of South Africa’s NSI, its policy frameworks, and its continental commitments based on African Union policies are traced as the hindsight component; the socio-economic status as well as South Africa’s current standing in the 2023 Global Innovation Index (GII), are engaged to draw out relevant insights. Discourse on knowledge production that has contextual integrity, which speaks to the epistemological foundations of the system, as well as the role of the ethical in the era of a Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR), are the foresight components to be considered.
Keywords: Policy; socio-economic; epistemological; ethical; STI; 4IR