The Department of Science & Technology is on track with the national ICT research development and innovation strategy, developed in 2006/2007, and which aims to produce high-end ICT skills and research capacity in South Africa.
This is according to Minister of Science & Technology Naledi Pando, speaking yesterday at the IEEE International Communications Conference in Cape Town.
"The strategy, which is managed by Meraka Institute of the CSIR in partnership with other role players in the national system of innovation, seeks to ensure the development of high-end skills (masters and PhDs) to enable, build and strengthen the innovation chain and the capacity of SA to perform competitive research in ICT," she says.
"Some of the initiatives implemented as part of the ICT RDI programme target the rural and marginalised communities."
One of these projects is the Digital Doorway, a robust computer facility designed to provide access to computing resources to rural communities.
"Usually placed outdoors Digital Doorway facilities are designed such that they can withstand harsh conditions and vandalism and is available 24 hours to the communities to learn basic computer skills and access information resources such as Wikipedia, as well as any learning content," says Pandor.
"Another project from our ICT RDI implementation programme, that seeks to enhance access to ICT in rural areas, is a large scale technology demonstrator pilot project, which seeks to deploy affordable broadband connectivity infrastructure."
Currently, the pilot of this programme focuses on providing broadband connectivity to schools and other government and public facilities in three municipalities in Limpopo, Mpumalanga and Northern Cape.
"It is hoped that this project will usher in a new era where our historically deprived communities will get the opportunity to participate in socio-economic activities using the ICT platform," Pandor says.
"In order to attract critical mass in the advanced human resources in ICT, the ICT RDI strategy employs several models which include students in employment, research grants, internships and instruments to support innovation and technology-based enterprise development such as the Innovation Fund (which is now part of the Technology Innovation Agency), Technology and Human Resource for Industry Programme (THRIP) and Support Programme for Industrial Innovation (SPII)."