NWU IKS Centre and DST to host 2018 IKS International Conference

Belinda Bantham -- Wed, 09/26/2018 - 08:23

NWU IKS Centre and DST to host 2018 IKS International Conference

The Indigenous Knowledge Systems (IKS) Centre at the North-West University (NWU) is partnering with the Department of Science and Technology (DST) to host the 2018 Indigenous Knowledge Systems International Conference.

The conference will take place at the Protea Hotel Fire and Ice in Pretoria from 25 to 27 September, and will bring together various stakeholders including researchers, knowledge holders, traditional leaders, policy makers, businesses, NGOs and the government.

The theme of the conference, “Protecting Indigenous Knowledge towards Socioeconomic Development”, highlights two integral and related issues: the economic value of IKS and the need to protect the communities who hold it from exploitation.

IKS has tremendous economic value, whether in the arts, crafts, culture, food, medicine, technology, etc. Various speakers and presenters will highlight exactly how IKS has been used in various economic sectors in different countries to advance local and national interests. The NWU’s vice-chancellor, Prof Dan Kgwadi, will also give an address during the conference.

The wealth of IKS is held in resource-constrained communities which often leave them vulnerable to the acquisitive lust of rich local and international companies. For this reason the conference will also deal with the protection of indigenous knowledge (IK). The goal of this protection is to ensure that the economic benefits of the application of IK should also be enjoyed by local indigenous communities and knowledge holders. The adequacy of various international legal instruments for IK intellectual property (IP) protection will be scrutinised, as will the silence in South African IP laws regarding IK.

The four subthemes for the conference are:

  • Using legal instruments for the promotion and protection of IKS
  • Using technology for IKS innovation and entrepreneurship
  • Developing a management system for indigenous knowledge
  • Challenges and opportunities for IKS in the education system

During the 2017 National IKS Expo, also co-hosted by the IKS Centre and the DST in Mbombela, the DST launched public hearings on the IKS Bill which have recently been concluded. This conference will therefore also serve as an opportunity to share with the international audience the strides that South Africa has made in developing the policy framework for the promotion and integration of IKS.

Most importantly, the conference will also produce a plan of action that will be presented to the South African government on how indigenous knowledge, as a component of science, can be used to contribute to a knowledge-based economy.