Global Experience in Policy and Program Development
Edited by Sarfraz A. Mian
Chapter 19: The South African Science, Technology and Innovation Environment and its Impact on Entrepreneurial Development
Gideon Maas and Sandra Musengi INTRODUCTION The South African environment is characterized by various paradoxes. These include, among others, a positive economic growth of 2.8 per cent forecasted for 2010 on the one hand and official unemployment of more than 24.3 per cent on the other hand (The Economist, 2010); a well-developed business infrastructure versus areas of extreme poverty; three well-developed growth poles versus rural areas fighting for survival. Table 19.1 highlights these paradoxes in South Africa, which is affected by the needs of a relative young population within a country where a skills shortage exists. It has been consistently put forward that South Africa is characterized by diverse economic realities commonly referred to as the first, second and transformation economy, each of which necessitate different approaches. In such an environment, it is extremely difficult to provide a policy for science and technology (S&T) development that will satisfy the needs of all entrepreneurs. A policy focusing on the first economy (e.g. establishment of incubators focusing only on the development of high-tech products) would not be appropriate for the second economy given that the emphasis would most likely be on the development of technology that can support socioeconomic development in general compared to the development of high-tech products. It is indeed a challenging situation for a government in which lessons from developed countries cannot merely be replicated within the South African context. Promoting S&T in South Africa within such a challenging environment can be a daunting task. To create...
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