Ashley Bhugwandin and Bongani Memela, CSIR initiatives coordination manager
The recently established Technology Localisation Implementation Unit (TLIU) – hosted by the CSIR on behalf of the Department of Science and Technology (DST) – has set itself ambitious goals. Some 75 companies stand to benefit through its interventions on localisation over the next three years.
As a national programme, the DST’s vision for the TLIU is to deliver technology to South African companies to make them competent and competitive service providers.
Ashley Bhugwandin, who heads up the unit, explains, “We hope to increase the local content of the technology inputs in imported systems. Through localisation, local technology development and enhanced component manufacturing will bolster industrial growth and job creation. Ultimately, this programme will support economic development.”
Bhugwandin’s experience will stand him in good stead. He worked at provincial level with the KwaZulu-Natal Tooling Initiative and the SPX (Supplier Partner Exchange) programme of the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO).
Immediate beneficiaries of technology localisation are South Africa’s state-owned companies (SOCs) and private companies. By assisting local companies to supply technology, materials and equipment to SOCs and private companies, the TLIU will help to reduce dependence on overseas services and suppliers, while providing sustainable work opportunities and skills enhancement.
The initial focus of the TLIU is on Gauteng, the Western Cape, KwaZulu-Natal and Mpumalanga to deliver Technology Assistance Packages (TAPs) to benchmarked companies and to implement ‘customised’ TAPs to companies requiring benchmarking. It will enter into partnerships to source service providers for these packages and through working with UNIDO and the DST, will explore opportunities with SOCs and original equipment manufacturing for localisation.
Bhugwandin concludes, “Our plan is to assist in the Northern Cape with the localisation of technology used in the MeerKAT astronomy project, currently the largest and most sensitive radio telescope in the southern hemisphere. The awarding of the Square Kilometre Array radio telescope project to South Africa has upped the ante for us as we believe we have a valuable role to play to boost local input to the project.”