News Roundup

Indicators for research and development

Since 2002, the HSRC's Centre for Science, Technology and Innovation Indicators (CeSTII) has completed six full research and experimental development (R&D) surveys on behalf of the department of science and technology (DST). The high-level survey results for 2007/08 indicated that although South Africa's R&D expenditure increased from R16.5 billion in 2006/07 to R18.6 billion in 2007/08, this did not keep pace with the growth of South Africa's GDP and R&D expenditure. As a percentage of GDP, it fell slightly from 0.95% of GDP in 2006/07 to 0.93% in 2007/08.In terms of the number of full-time equivalent researchers per 1 000 total employment, South Africa scores a low of only 1.5 researchers per 100 total employment, compared to 1.9 for China, 2.9 for Argentina and 9.5 for South Korea. This is indicative of the general shortage of skilled workers in South Africa. The R&D surveys have undergone the South African Quality Assessment Framework (SASQAF) with Statistics South Africa and the DST and its joint Quality Management Plan (QMP). Hence, the R&D surveys are now a component of South Africa’s official statistics. The results of the surveys are also published internationally by the OECD and UNESCO.The work informs government’s strategic planning processes and provides inputs for policy-makers. Expenditure on R&D as a percentage of GDP and the number of researchers measured through the survey comprise Development Indictor number ten on future competiveness in the Development Indicators 2009 produced by the presidency.

For more on the R&D surveys, go to www.hsrc.ac.za/CeSTii.phtml.

Integrating the planning of housing and transport

A rigorous and shared understanding of development patterns and trends, and the driving forces that shape them, are crucial for planners and decision-makers to develop robust and sustainable plans that could better inform investment decisions for specific areas.

Redressing spatial development distortions and the fragmentation of human settlements lies at the heart of many of South Africa’s major development challenges. These include stimulating vibrant economies and creating jobs; providing adequate shelter, infrastructure and services to improve the health and safety profile of communities; promoting sustainable livelihoods; and creating more sustainable, energy-efficient settlements.

As part of the drive to support the developmental state, in which spheres and sectors cooperate and coordinate to realise its development path, the department of science and technology (DST) identified the need for rigorous spatial and temporal evidence to promote a shared understanding of past, current and possible future development patterns and trends. The DST thus commissioned the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and the HSRC to develop an information and modelling platform to support integrated planning, development and service delivery for the country.

This multi-year, multi-phase project focuses on developing three evidence-based technology platforms to support planning at various scales and a range of planning.

Regional Spatial Profiler
The profiler contains a collection of maps and tables that users can view and download from a web-based portal. This information is intended to strengthen regional special planning by providing accessible and comparable information (current and past) to planners in government.

Urban Simulation Platform
This component aims to develop and implement an urban simulation platform to model a series of possible urban growth patterns over a 30-year period. It will look at a range of scenarios on how the economic, demographic and spatial policy planning could play out. This will assist decisions on long-term planning, policy-making and infrastructure investments in the major metropolitan regions of South Africa.

Delivery Demand Guide Charts
This component of the project is to produce posters (delivery demand guide charts) to support the preparation of the housing and transport chapters of integrated development plans. It uses household survey based estimates of local housing and transport demand, and analyses patterns of national population flow within and between regions within the major migration corridors of South Africa.

The evidence generated by the three platforms will be distributed via a web-based portal to ensure that users can easily find and download relevant information to better inform their planning processes.

For more information, go to http://tip.csir.co.za/.

HSRC maintains record of good management

The HSRC enjoys a positive public image and credibility in the professional and public domains. Evidence of the high esteem the HSRC commands as a research institution is its ability to attract an increasing number of research commissions from a wide variety of clients within South Africa and internationally, said Ms Phumelele Nzimande, chair of the HSRC board at the launch of the organisation's 2009/10 annual report.

   

Contributing to the country's development, the HSRC's research is clearly aligned with development priorities of government and the Millennium Development Goals, Dr Olive Shisana, CEO of the HSRC, said. 'Our mandate requires of us to address developmental challenges in SA, Africa and the world through strategic basic and applied research in human sciences.'

Bigger-picture projects
Under the theme, 'the bigger picture', the annual report reflected on social science that focuses on the detail when conducting research, without losing the bigger picture of the effect the research has on the people of South Africa and Africa.

During the reporting year, some 155 projects were running at one time or another. Shisana highlighted some of the significant projects, all reported in previous editions of the HSRC Review, that served development priorities. These included studies on human trafficking; student retention and graduate destination; the national HIV/AIDS behavioural risks, sero-status and media impact survey 2008; a study on finding work for school leavers who are unlikely to go into tertiary education; and research and development surveys.

Scientific excellence

The HSRC has produced 1.52 international peer-reviewed publications per senior researcher, an achievement of which the organisation is especially proud. This shows that the HSRC researchers are increasingly being integrated into the world social science system.

Good financial management
Ms Nzimande expressed her appreciation of the ‘competent and transparent manner in which the HSRC has managed its resources, with effective and efficient internal controls, and with the attention it has given to risk management through its risk management forum and the risk management committee'.

The HSRC has attained unqualified audits over the last decade, including the 2009/10 financial year, with a positive growth in total turnover over the past four years at an average rate of 12,15%.

In terms of funding for 2009/10, the HSRC' total turnover was R340 million, the highest ever, made up of the parliamentary grant of R148 million and external income of R193 million, mainly from international funders and donors.

'A small surplus of R229 000 was reported for 2009/10, indicating the HSRC’s ability to spend the funds allocated to achieve its mandate. We can be proud of a pro-active management of cash flow and expenses during difficult economic times,' Shisana said.

'I want to assure you that your investment is giving excellent returns for the public.'

Download the HSRC Annual Report 2009/10 from www.hsrc.ac.za