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16 February 2024

Upturn in SA Research and Development expenditure after COVID-19 pandemic – HSRC Survey

Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC)

Pretoria, Thursday, 15 February 2024 – The Human Sciences Research Council’s (HSRC) South African National Survey of Research and Experimental Development reveals that the gross domestic expenditure on research and development (GERD) has risen in real terms for the first time in four years. In 2021/22, GERD as a percentage of gross domestic product (GDP), a measure of research and development (R&D) intensity, reached 0.62%, a slight increase from the previous year’s 0.60%. This growth, in 2015 prices, amounted to a 6.9% year-on-year increase in 2021/22, from R25.965 billion in 2020/21 to R27.756 billion in 2021/22.

“Nations that invest in R&D at a high enough intensity tend to lead in global competitiveness,” says Dr Nazeem Mustapha, HSRC chief research specialist and the R&D Survey’s principal investigator. “South Africa is striving to reach higher levels of R&D intensity by increasing expenditure on R&D, which in turn can lead to new industries and boosting of existing ones, job creation, increased productivity, and sustained economic growth.”

GERD encompasses all spending on R&D on national territory in a given year. It includes domestically performed R&D, which is funded from abroad, but excludes R&D funds paid abroad, such as to international agencies.

Key indicators highlight positive economic growth in South Africa for the period under review. According to Statistics South Africa (2023), South Africa’s GDP rebounded, rising by 4.7% in 2021/22 after a 6.0% decline during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020/21.

Read the full press release here and download the report here.

Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC)

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