Pandor was the minister of science and technology from 2009 until 2012, and has recently returned to the position after serving as minister of home affairs.
“I am very pleased with how things are looking in the department. I am worried however. We must identify areas which need significant attention,” she said at a press briefing in Tshwane.
She said it was worrying to see the MeerKAT telescope deadline being moved. “At first it was 2016, yesterday I saw a deadline of 2018. We must seek to meet our promised deadlines. I have not looked into this yet, but I will,” she said.
The MeerKAT is part of phase one of the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) telescope, an international enterprise to build the largest and most sensitive radio telescope in the world. The MeerKAT is located in the Northern Cape.
Pandor said she met various research councils, the Technology Innovation Agency, the National Advisory Council on Innovation, The Academy of Science of South Africa, the National Space Agency and others to discuss unemployment, how to grow the economy and how to implement the National Development Plan (NDP). The NDP focuses on education, training and innovation in the sector.
“The DST will invest R400 million per annum to support postgraduate students. We need to massively expand funding in this programme to increase the number of knowledge workers in SA,” said Pandor.
She added the aim is to attract and retain young scientists to the profession.
Pandor takes over from Derek Hanekom, who is now the minister of tourism.