DST to boost local tech

Audra Mahlong
By Audra Mahlong, senior journalist
Johannesburg, 03 Mar 2010

Local technology companies can expect increased access to procurement opportunities as the Department of Science and Technology (DST) attempts to boost local industries.

As major state-owned enterprises are embarking on large-scale infrastructure recapitalisation and expansion programmes over the next 20 years, the DST say it will increase the participation of local companies in major ICT, manufacturing and engineering technology procurement opportunities.

The DST says its Technology Localisation Programme (TLP) seeks to enhance the capabilities of local companies to allow them to access contracts, create more jobs and contribute to economic growth.

Opportunities under the programme will include the procurement of technology and services for the design and build of MeerKAT and opportunities related to the Square Kilometre Array, if SA wins the bid to host this facility. The localisation of satellite technology within the space science and technology strategy would also receive a boost.

“It's aimed at supporting supplier development by assisting local companies to develop their technological capabilities, and then to use these capabilities to leverage procurement opportunities from the infrastructure-build programmes of state-owned enterprises,” says science and technology minister Naledi Pandor.

The programme will also be aligned to government's Competitive Supplier Development Programme - a partnership between the DST and departments of public enterprises and trade and industry, aimed at improving local technologies.

Pandor says the TLP will also identify key industries where departments' institutions, networks and resources would be used to support localisation efforts.

“We're already investing in materials and manufacturing research and technology development. We believe the expertise we have built up around research and technology activities can be mobilised and deployed for the benefit of local companies,” explains Pandor.

She adds that, although the Competitive Supplier Development Programme is driven by state economic enterprise procurement, the DST will replicate the model in other areas of both public and private sector procurement.

“The Technology Localisation Programme is something like a 'Buy South African' campaign. However, the programme is not based on emotion or sentiment. It's firmly based on good products, equal to the best products of international competitors, products vital to our national goals, reputation and wellbeing,” says Pandor.