Measuring science and technology indicators in South Africa: role of the Centre for Science, Technology and Innovation Indicators (CeSTII)
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The advancement of science and technology is essential for economic growth and wealth creation. The challenges facing countries are how to develop and sustain their science and technology capacity that will contribute toward economic growth. Policy-makers in general understand and acknowledge the critical role that Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) can play in positively addressing the long-term economic and social issues. Adequate investments in research and development (R&D), skilled human resources, scientific and technical infrastructure and a good education system are essential to enhance economic
growth and improve the well-being of people. The formulation of policies that address economic growth and ultimately wealth creation requires that policy-makers recognize weaknesses and strengths as well as successes and failures of the economic and scientific systems in their environment. The intensification of global competitiveness which compels policy-makers to provide a balance between policies that take into account national needs and those that enable the country to be competitive also has to be considered. The South African Government is well aware of these facts and it is also in the process, through the concerted efforts of the Department of Science and Technology (DST), other government departments and research institutions, and the overall scientific community, of developing and implementing policies that promote Science, Technology and Innovation. Among these initiatives lies the need to measure R&D and innovation activities within the country. Indicators gleaned from measuring the scale of R&D and innovation activities are subsequently used for planning, monitoring, foresight and international benchmarking purposes. This paper outlines the role of the Centre for Science, Technology and Innovation Indicators (CeSTII) in assisting DST to plan its long-term strategic and operational activities by collecting R&D and Innovation data on behalf of the department. The paper will attempt to discuss the possible future role the centre could play in the provision of Science and Technology (S&T) indicators for establishing the knowledge-based economy.