QUESTION NO (256)
Ms M R SHINN (DA) to ask the Minister of Science and Technology:
(1) What steps has her department taken with regard to recapitalising the (a) research equipment and (b) infrastructure at the national facilities?
Through the National Equipment Programme (NEP) the department has taken steps to improve research infrastructure the main objectives of the programme are to;
– Support the acquisition or upgrade to state-of-the-art instrumentation for national research institutions to undertake world class research;
– Provide infrastructure for research capacity development, mainly post-graduate student training and staff development;
– Create a long-range planning culture around research equipment;
– Promote, through the placement of research equipment, the development of research collaboration; and
– Support and promote national, regional and institutional research priorities
The funding for recapitalization of the National Research Facilities has been given priority by the Department of Science and Technology (DST).
In this regard the DST has already made investments through the following interventions in the short term whilst a broader effort for larger equipment replacement is being undertaken:
1.R79m was allocated to the National Research Facilities for a period of over four years commencing in the financial year 2008/09 to urgently address the replacement of ageing small infra-structure, refurbishment and critical operations. These were allocated as follows:
2. A special allocation of an additional R9m was made to HartRAO in 2009/10 to repair a failed bearing on the 26m Antennae. Following an extensive sourcing process for a contractor to conduct the repairs due the specialised nature of the equipment and the complexity of the repair, General Dynamics, a USA Contractor was appointed to undertake the repair. The repair was successfully completed and is fully operational.
3.The Minister also announced a further R50m once-off allocation in the current financial year to the National Research Facilities to replace/refurbish research equipment/infra-structure which are critical to the operation of these facilities.
4.To address the long-term infrastructure needs, that is, upgrade and replacement of large equipment and infrastructure, DST IS WORKING WITH National treasury to develop an appropriate response..