National survey of research & experimental development (2009/10 Fiscal Year): high-level key results
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The 2009/10 R&D survey recorded that South Africa's Gross Expenditure on Research and Development (GERD) amounted to R20.9 billion, a nominal decrease of R86 million from the R21.0 billion recorded for 2008/9. With the GERD as a percentage
of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) at 0.87%, the findings indicate a third consecutive decline in the ratio, from 0.93% in 2007/8 and 0.92% in 2008/9. It is the first time over the past decade that the survey recorded a nominal decline in overall R&D expenditure. A decline of 9.7% in business sector R&D expenditure, a significant contributor to R&D investment, is the primary driver of this trend.
Notwithstanding an overall increase of just over R 1.1 billion in expenditure within the public sector (i.e. government departments, higher education and science councils), this was not adequate to offset the decline of R1.4 billion in the business sector R&D and
the not-for-profit sector expenditures. At another level, these findings mirror the global trends of slowing growth in R&D investment in many parts of the world in the years 2009 to 2010 as a result of the global financial crisis. Further analysis indicates that South Africa, when compared to countries such as China, India, Brazil and other newly industrialised countries in the Asian continent, did not capture a large enough share of the shifting global R&D investments favoring developing countries, which have been unfolding over the past decade. The current focus of public policy to scale up investment in boosting the human resource base for science, engineering and technology, enhancing and improving publicly-funded scientific facilities and creating the necessary conditions and incentives for encouraging private sector and international R&D investment should support efforts to increase overall levels of R&D investment in South Africa.