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Indigenous knowledge systems

Republic of South Africa, Department of Science and Technology


The Indigenous Knowledge Systems (IKS) Policy is an enabling framework to stimulate and strengthen the contribution of indigenous knowledge to social and economic development in South Africa. The main IKS Policy drivers in the South African context include:
  • The affirmation of African cultural values in the face of globalisation - a clear imperative given the need to promote a positive African identity;
  • Practical measures for the development of services provided by IK holders and practitioners, with a particular focus on traditional medicine, but also including areas such as agriculture, indigenous languages and folklore;
  • Underpinning the contribution of indigenous knowledge to the economy - the role of indigenous knowledge in employment and wealth creation; and
  • Interfaces with other knowledge systems, for example indigenous knowledge is used together with modern biotechnology in the pharmaceutical and other sectors to increase the rate of innovation.
The policy identifies several cross-cutting functions to underpin the optimal performance of IKS in South Africa. These functions are:
  • A high-level advisory function to Government on IKS matters reporting to the Minister of Science and Technology;
  • An IKS development function, including scholarship, research development, the maintenance of a recordal system for IK and the promotion of networking structures among practitioners, to be located in the Department of Science and Technology;
  • Legislation and administration capacity to protect intellectual property associated with indigenous knowledge, to be administered by the Department of Trade and Industry;
  • An establishment of an IKS Fund to support institutions that will assist Indigenous and local communities in the categorisation and characterisation of their biological resources, innovations, practices and technologies.

Full text available as: Pdf


Document Title: Indigenous knowledge systems
Department: Science and Technology

Document Type:Policy Document (Not Peer Reviewed)
Subject Area:Research
Country:South Africa
Keywords:Indigenous Knowledge Systems IKS, Policy, South Africa, Legal Issues, Cultural Issues

File Size:856 KB
Date Added:15 May 2007

Republic of South Africa, Department of Science and Technology (2004). Indigenous knowledge systems Pretoria, South Africa: Department of Science and Technology