The high degree of interdependence among role players is one of the most important characteristics of the global arena of the twenty first century. The downside of the creation of an integrated and knowledge-driven global society is the increased global inequality, poverty and environmental degradation. Insufficient scientific and technological knowledge to address these challenges is one of the most pressing concerns for the developing countries and emerging market economies of the global South. To increase their technological capabilities without incurring the costs of technological innovation, these countries use science and technology diplomacy to create new and participate in existing global networks for scientific information exchange. The countries of the South do not perceive themselves to be ‘borrowers’ or ‘adopters’ of ready-made technology but as active participants in the acquisition, generation and management of technological expertise.
Developing countries and many emerging economies desperately need to level the global playing field by bridging the scientific and technological gap between them and developed countries. Different needs motivate a developed country, such as Germany to become involved in a bilateral diplomatic relationship with an emerging economy, such as South Africa. Germany aims to increase its access to South Africa’s markets, thereby creating more opportunities for trade and economic growth. South Africa experiences developmental challenges and has since 1994 actively created diplomatic opportunities to ensure the successful transmission of technology to its people. South Africa’s science and technology diplomacy takes place against the background of its national interests related to the transfer of technology to its people. South Africa recognised the necessity of diplomatic specialisation and therefore signed a bilateral science and technology agreement with Germany on 12 June 1996.
The broad aim of this case study is to demonstrate how the science and technology diplomacy between Germany, a highly developed country in the global North and South Africa, an emerging economy in the global South, can be instrumental in addressing the developmental challenges of the latter. More specifically, the purpose of this study is to assess the significance of the scientific and technological diplomatic relationship between South Africa and Germany as manifested during the 2012/2013 German-South African Year of Science.
The main research question is whether the 2012/2013 German-South African Year of Science contributed to South Africa’s ability to leverage scientific knowledge and technological skills from Germany. The first subsidiary question asks whether South Africa can use this Year of Science as a blueprint for similar partnerships with other countries. This leads to a second subsidiary question: What does the South African government need to do to establish a permanent, structural framework for the long-term inclusion of non-state role players in its science and technology diplomacy?
The study finds the Year of Science to be a highlight, a success and in many aspects a blueprint for future cooperation with other countries. This Year of Science demonstrates what a good and dedicated partnership could offer. It strengthened and supported the already existing relations with various non-governmental stakeholders. This Year of Science served as a diplomatic instrument for the inclusion of non-state role players for the promotion of science and technology agreements, the funding of scientific research and the exchange of scientific knowledge. This case study report contributes to the field of science and technology diplomacy in general, but also provides valuable insight in the changes South Africa will have to make to its strategies and policies to benefit more to improve its science and technology diplomacy.
Mini-dissertation (MA)--University of Pretoria, 2015.