A sharp focus on artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning and future skills is needed to enhance the objectives of the Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (BRICS) Young Scientist Forum (YSF).
This is according to higher education, science and innovation deputy minister Buti Manamela, speaking this week at the BRICS YSF event in Gqeberha, Eastern Cape.
"The BRICS YSF has become an important global platform for critical reflection by young scientists, researchers, innovators and entrepreneurs on some of the most urgent challenges of our time," said Manamela.
“We believe that all these areas of focus are critical for the development of all BRICS countries and are essential for their resilience and the long-term psychological well-being of their respective populations.”
The three-day event, organised by Department of Science and Innovation entities – the Technology Innovation Agency and Academy of Science of South Africa − provides a platform for participants to zoom into transforming skills development for the future, climate change and environmental sustainability, and the future of society.
The YSF event precedes the 2023 BRICS science, technology and innovation ministerial meeting, which is taking place today, under the theme “BRICS and Africa: Partnership for mutually accelerated growth, sustainable development and inclusive multilateralism”.
The BRICS ministerial meeting is part of a series of activities leading up to South Africa's hosting of the 15th BRICS Summit this month.
The YSF event also hosted the young innovators prize from the BRICS countries, which rewards innovations with societal benefit.
Last year, South African Gift Lubele scooped the $25 000 prize money. This year’s first prize went to Dmirty Yudin from Russia.
Manamela noted he was pleased that the five instalments of the BRICS young innovator prize have been successful and proposed the establishment of an alumni forum of YSF participants from BRICS countries.
“This prize has become an important stage for young people in BRICS countries to showcase their innovation talents, and strengthen exchanges and cooperation with peers. To enhance the prestige of this prize, it is important that we continually improve the resourcing of this initiative in support of innovation improvement in the BRICS countries.”
The deputy minister also suggested there is a need to increase to the scope and thematic areas to resonate with the economic development of the BRICS countries, and an identification of thematic areas that support developmental growth, especially the alleviation of poverty.
“It is our hope that the outcome of the eighth YSF BRICS Forum and the ideas presented by our young innovators will enhance the resolve of BRICS countries to improve the quality of life of the people in the global south,” concluded Manamela.