South Africa has the largest economy in Africa. With nearly 50 million inhabitants, it accounts for only 6% of the total population in the continent but generates over 30% of the African total GDP. Despite its large representation in the African continent, the country is still comparatively small among the five BRICS countries, accounting for 3% of this group‘s GDP and just under 3% of its population (World Bank, 2011).
South Africa is a middle income country with a relatively established national research and innovation system. In 2008/09 the GERD reached €2.1b (21b Rands), the equivalent to 0.92% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). However, the consistent increase in R&D expenditures over the past decade has not been sufficient to achieve the target of 1% of GDP that was sought for 2008. The Government is the main funder of R&D (funding 45.7% of the GERD), while most of the R&D is performed by the private sector (performing almost 60% of the total R&D expenditures). Concerted efforts to promote S&T cooperation with the EU, have led South Africa to be one of the most active Third Country participants of the Framework Programmes. With over 200 participations in FP7 and a direct EC investment more than €25 million, South Africa ranks only behind USA, Russia, China and India.
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