Co-Creating Transformative Science, Technology And Innovation Policy Solutions For Southern Africa

07 December 2023

On Friday 1st December 2023 a group of Southern African policy makers along with international and South African students and researchers met to hack policy solutions to assist in the implementation of the Southern African Development Community’s science, technology and innovation (STI) protocol. The proposed policy solutions will be presented during the South African Science Forum on Friday 8th December 2023 at 09:00hrs.

Pretoria, Gauteng – The Trilateral Research Chair in Transformative Innovation, the 4IR and Sustainable Development (UJ-TRCTI), together with the Department of Science and Innovation (DSI), National Research Foundation (NRF), Southern African Development Community (SADC), GLOBELICS, the Human Sciences Research Council’s Centre for Science, Technology and Innovation Indicators (CeSTII) and the Transformative Innovation Policy Consortium (TIPC), hosted a policy hackathon on the 1st of December 2023 at the NRF Offices in Pretoria.

This policy hackathon resulted in a set of innovative ideas to assist the implementation of the SADC Protocol on Science, Technology and Innovation (STI), which was adopted in 2008 by the SADC Heads of State and Government. The Protocol aims to foster cooperation and promote the development and transfer of STI within Member States.

A recent evaluation of the Protocol’s implementation at the national level has resulted in a report highlighting gaps and challenges in its implementation. This report served as an opportunity for reflection and the development of innovative policy solutions. The policy hackathon convened multiple stakeholders from academia, government and other organisations, who gathered in teams to collaborative devise fresh, forward-thinking policy approaches. These proposals that emerged aim to accelerate the successful realisation of the STI Protocol’s objectives within the SADC region.

The hackathon’s central theme was a direct response to the deficiency in investment allocated to STI initiatives within SADC, which was recognised in the evaluation report. To address this problem, participating teams dedicated their efforts to two challenges:

The first challenge was about formulating an all-encompassing regional mechanism that could efficiently mobilise and allocate resources, fostering the advancement and funding of STI throughout SADC.

The second challenge was to devise ways to increase the low contributions from the private sector to regional R&D. Addressing this challenge remains paramount to catalysing a vibrant STI ecosystem with higher private sector involvement, facilitating sustainable growth and innovation within the region.

Three groups were formed from the Hackathon participants, representatives of SADC member states, NRF, DSI and UJ_TRCTI representatives, as well as members of the Globelics Doctoral Academy (students and senior researchers representing over 15 countries from across the world) and other organisations such as HSRC, and the Centre for Public Service Innovation (CPSI), among others. Each group came up with excellent strategies, which were presented to a panel of judges formed by government representatives, the African Academy of Sciences, the NRF and the SADC Secretariat. The proposals made related to impact investment funding mechanisms, mobilisation of public procurement for innovation funding, as well as a self-sustained regional social investment fund.

The three solutions will be presented during the Science Forum South Africa on the 8th of December 2023 at 09.00hrs at the CSIR International Convention Centre (Amber II room).

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The DSI/NRF Trilateral Research Chair in Transformative Innovation, the 4th Industrial Revolution and Sustainable Development, or UJ-TRCTI is hosted at the University of Johannesburg, where it operates as a research centre within the College of Business and Economics. Prof. Erika Kraemer-Mbula holds the Chair. It has been funded by the South African National Research Foundation since 2019 and, is an international collaboration between the University of Johannesburg, the African Centre for Technology Studies (ACTS)  in Kenya and the Science Policy Research Unit (SPRU) at the University of Sussex.  in the UK. UJ-TRCTI is formed by a dynamic team of national and international researchers that engages in cutting-edge research on innovation and development; builds the capacity of younger scholars to help develop the next generation of African thinkers leading transformative change; and engages with policy makers, key stakeholders and research partners, to influence policy change.


Brown Bag Session with Fabianna Ferreira

07 November 2023

The Trilateral Research Chair in Transformative Innovation is pleased to present a Brown Bag Session with Fabianna Ferreira.

Fabianna will present her working paper on, “Industrial policy for the green hydrogen economy: The cases of Brazil, Chile, China and South Africa.” Details for the session are as follows;

Date: 08 November 2023

Time : 11h00 – 12h00

Venue: TRCTI Conference Room


Only members, students, staff and affiliates of the chair are invited to this session. This is a in-person event however, if you wish to join online, please email Vinolia on . We are looking forward to a dynamic engagement!


Embarking on Knowledge-Packed Study Visit: AfricaLics Visiting Fellows – 2023 Cohort

By- AfricaLics Author

03 November 2023

On 1st September 2023, the Trilateral Research Chair in Transformative Innovation, the Fourth Industrial Revolution and Sustainable Development (TRCTI) at the University of Johannesburg and the African Network for Economics of Learning, Innovation, and Competence Building Systems (AfricaLics) welcomed the 2023 Cohort of AfricaLics Visiting Fellows to the vibrant city of Johannesburg for a transformative study visit spanning three months. The study visit is part of the one-year fellowship programme which has been running since February 2023 with a range of online sessions, including mentoring sessions, online courses, writing sessions, and Paper Presentation Seminars. The study visit itself includes a series of insightful meetings, training sessions, and paper presentation seminars aimed at advancing research done by the Visiting Fellows in the field of Innovation and Development.

Picture 1: VFP 2023 Cohort from left Mbeo, Paule, Roselyne, Adeduntan, Ann and Natnael

The 2023 Cohort of AfricaLics Visiting Fellows comprise a diverse group of scholars from across the African continent including the following:

  • Mbeo Calvince Ogeya from Jaramogi Oginga Odinga University of Science and Technology (JOOUST) focusing on Transformative Innovation: Investigating the coevolution of grid and off-grid electricity systems.
  • Paule Melissa Atangana from University of Yaoundé whose PhD is entitled: Four essays on the macroeconomic effects of financial development on sources of innovation in Africa.
  • Rosalyne Baddoo from University of Ghana focusing on Commercializing agri-innovations in Ghanaian Universities for sustainable Agribusinesses.
  • Adeduntan Oluwaseyitan Segun-Olasanmi from Obafemi Awolowo University, Nigeria focusing on Dynamics of Gender and Technology in the Cashew Nut Value: Chain in Southwestern Nigeria.
  • Ann Numi from Jaramogi Oginga Odinga University of Science and Technology (JOOUST) focusing on An Agricultural Biotechnology Technological Innovation System (ABTIS): Build-up, Actors & Dynamics.
  • Natnael Sharecho from University of Gondar, Ethiopia, focusing on Business model innovation and firm performance: Moderating role of environmental dynamism.

During their study visit to UJ, the PhD students hope to advance their research skills and academic growth. They anticipate fruitful research collaborations with other PhD students, post-docs, and senior scholars at UJ that will provide them with new insights in their respective fields as well as access to specialized resources and high-quality mentoring from their AfricaLics mentors. UJ is well known for its commitment to innovation and its modern, state-of-the-art library facilities and has been recognized for its forward-thinking approach to education and research. These are the main reasons why UJ was chosen by the AfricaLics Scientific Board as host of the AfricaLics Visiting Fellowship Programme in 2023 and 2024.

Additionally, the visiting fellows seek opportunities for networking, aiming to build a network of academic contacts that may lead to future collaborations and career opportunities. This study visit is also seen as a pathway to personal and professional growth, encompassing cultural immersion, adaptability, and the development of research and advanced presentation skills. Students aspire to contribute positively to academic discussions at their host institution through seminars, workshops, and knowledge sharing while also aiming to publish their research and gain recognition in their respective fields. Ultimately, the overarching expectation is that these experiences will leave a lasting, beneficial impact on their academic and career development, whether in academia, research, or other professional domains.

One of the key events during this three-month study visit so far was a one-week workshop held from the 18th to the 22nd of September, 2023. This intensive workshop brought together mentors and home supervisors, offering a unique opportunity for the fellows to engage in one-on-one discussions and receive personalized guidance. The week-long programme also included training of both students, home supervisors, and mentors on improved methods for PhD supervision and how to make the most out of it. Several sessions and meetings were organised, providing visiting fellows with a supportive and constructive environment in which to discuss their research, address challenges, and gain valuable insights from experienced scholars and mentors.

Picture 2: Group photo at the UJ PhD Supervision workshop held on 18th -22nd Sept 2023

AfricaLics is committed to helping African PhD students working in the field of Innovation and Development to strengthen their academic/research qualifications; improve quality of their dissertations and prepare for a career in innovation and development either within academia or outside (e.g., in the private sector or in government/policy making). This study visit at the University of Johannesburg aligns perfectly with its mission. The University of Johannesburg, renowned for its expertise in various fields, including economics and innovation, serve as an ideal host institution for the visiting fellows.

AfricaLics and the University of Johannesburg are set to continue their collaboration in the coming years, ensuring that the Visiting Fellowship program remains a cornerstone for knowledge exchange and research excellence in the region. This endeavor promises to play a crucial role in advancing the field of innovation and learning across the African continent, ultimately driving positive change and development in the region. Ultimately, research conducted by the visiting fellows is expected to help improve policies and practice within utilization of renewable and sustainable energy; innovative agricultural practices; biotechnology; innovative business models and financial development for innovation in Africa.

Brown Bag Session

The Trilateral Research Chair in Transformative Innovation is pleased to present a Brown Bag Session with Mbeo Ogeya.

Mbeo will present his working paper on, “Political economy of the evolution of electricity sector in Kenya.” Details for the session are as follows;

Date: 26 October 2023

Time : 13h00 – 14h00

Venue: TRCTI Conference Room


All members, students, staff and affiliates of the chair are invited to this session. This is a in-person event however, if you wish to join online, please email Vinolia on . We are looking forward to a dynamic engagement!

Brown Bag Session

The Trilateral Research Chair in Transformative Innovation is pleased to present a Brown Bag Session with Ann Numi.

Ann will be sharing her working paper on, Factors influencing system build-up: the case of agricultural biotechnology innovation system. Details for the session are as follows;

Date: 11 October 2023

Time: 14h00- 15h00

Venue: UJ_TRCTI (conference room)


All members, students, staff and affiliates of the chair are invited to this session. This is a in-person event however, if you wish to join online, please email Vinolia on . We are looking forward to a dynamic engagement!

Vacancy: Postdoctoral Research Fellows with strong econometric skills

Deadline: 30 September 2023

We are seeking a PDRF with expertise and background in statistical/econometric analysis. The successful candidate is expected to contribute to the Chair’s research (e.g. running research projects, publishing in leading peer-review journals, and developing research grants in collaboration with staff members) and operations (e.g. organising seminars and conferences). The successful candidate is also expected to be actively involved in PhD candidate supervision and teaching activities. Projects hosted by the Chair relate to the following areas: Digital Transformation & Inclusion; Green & Just Transitions; Alternative Innovation Practices; and Innovation & Wellbeing.

Click here for advert details


The DSI/NRF/Newton Fund Trilateral Research Chair in Transformative Innovation, the 4th Industrial Revolution, and Sustainable Development (UJ-TRCTI) at the University of Johannesburg, South Africa would like to express our availability to supervise two full-time Honours candidates for 2023. The UJ-TRCTI will provide application motivation support to high-accomplished students. The NRF honours full bursaries cover fees. Bursary holders will join a dynamic research community led by Prof Erika Kraemer-Mbula.

Closing date: 15 November 2022. Click here for advert details

Online workshop invite

Emerging Technologies in South Africa: A landscape analysis


Date: 30 May 2022

Time: 14:30 – 16:00

Click here to register


Invitation To Attend Stakeholder Validation Workshop The technological landscape changes over time as improvements or radical new ways of doing things are found. This creates a space for what some term ‘emerging technologies’ – a set of technologies that are novel – to gain momentum. Emerging technologies have the potential to create new economic sectors and impact positively on development goals. These technologies span a range of different types and are not limited to just those that are digital or include high-tech components or are research and development intensive. A landscaping and assessment of existing and future potential emerging technologies, to maximise the positive socio-economic and developmental impacts and mitigate against potential misuses and harms, in South Africa, is essential and will ensure that future action is complementary to existing interventions and are demand-driven. As such, FCDO-Eastern and Southern Africa Research and Innovation Hub engaged the University of Johannesburg’s DSI/NRF/Newton Fund Trilateral Research Chair in Transformative Innovation, the 4th Industrial Revolution and Sustainable Development (UJ-TRCTI) to analyse and map emerging technology ecosystems in South Africa to gain an in-depth understanding of the landscape and context, enabling factors, risks, opportunities, and early precedents being set on use cases, governance and enabling environment. This is in recognition of the role that South Africa plays as a regional technology leader and their likely ability to be influential in how these technologies are developed and used across Southern Africa. The work conducted included an in-depth literature review, the analysis of a survey dataset of 262 firms in South Africa about their use of several emerging technologies, and over 20 interviews with key informants across academia, government, and the private sector.

Click here for flyer details

Ecosystem Strengthening as a Catalyst for International Collaborative
Development of Emerging Digital Technologie s and X Data Applications
Tackling Socio Economic

Challenges in Kenya and South Africa

Project Start Date: January 1, 2023.

Project End Date: December 31, 2023

Data, currently being generated at an exponential growth rate, coupled with Emerging Digital Technologies
(EDT) have the ability to identify patterns, build explanatory models, and make predictions faster and more
accurately than humans. EDT applications using AI and blockchain based algorithms are being used to
address seemingly intractable problems. These algorithms, mainly created in the developed countries, often
lack transparency thereby limiting full exploitation of the potential for EDT/X Data based applications to
address socio economic challenges in developing countries. X Data collectively refers to four overlapping data
categories: big data, open data, user gene rated data, and real time data. Reaping full benefits from EDT in
developing countries, where new forms of digital divide between them and developed countries are evolving,
requires supportive systems for X Data. Although the access gap to technology is na rrowing, gaps on social
integration and impact of technology are increasing. Further, barriers persist in the use and uptake of X Data
by decision makers.
Focusing on Kenya and South Africa
, this project shall develop a deep understanding of the EDT/X Data
ecosystems; build capacity and support networking of researchers, entrepreneurs, decision makers and
policy makers; and support multi disciplinary teams to develop EDT/X Data based applications.

Click here for registration details

UJ-TRCTI would like to congratulate Open African Innovation Research (OpenAIR) on their new project that aims to engage with the SDGs by improving global regulatory systems to ensure that the benefits of innovations in health care, but also in data governance, food security, and green technologies, are more equitably distributed around the world. Open AIR has been granted nearly $2 million from the International Development Research Centre to address a core deficit in the way innovation is regulated. Open AIR’s new project will implement a new research agenda on the regulation of innovation. Improved regulatory systems will remove barriers that inhibit innovation in lower-income countries and will ultimately underpin solutions to a diverse array of global challenges.