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Initiated by the Department of Science and Technology (DST) and approved by the Cabinet in May 2007, Hydrogen South Africa or HySA is a long-term (15-year) programme within their Research, Development, and Innovation (RDI) strategy, officially launched in September 2008. This National Flagship Programme is aimed at developing South African intellectual property, knowledge, human resources, products, components and processes to support the South African participation in the nascent, but rapidly developing international platforms in Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technologies. The programme strives towards a knowledge-driven economy meaning that innovation will form the basis of South Africa's economy; this includes an aggressive capacity-development programme's approach. HySA also focusses on (i) the “Use and Displacement of Strategic Minerals”, (ii) ways of harnessing South Africa's mineral endowments to promote both the hydrogen economy and renewable energy use, and (iii) seeking the most cost-effective and sustainable ways of incorporating PGM-based components in hydrogen fuel cell and other technologies, in turns resulting in commercialisation ventures and a viable industry around mineral beneficiation.
Indeed, HySA has been implemented in the context of the DST's various innovation strategies, the Department of Mineral Resources' (DMR) minerals beneficiation strategy, the Department of Energy's (DoE) Integrated Resource Plan and the Department of Trade and Industry's (DTI) industrial development strategies. The principal strategy of HySA is to execute research and development work, with the main aim of achieving an ambitious 25% share of the global Hydrogen and Fuel Cell market using novel Platinum Group Metal (PGM) catalysts, components and systems since South Africa has more than 75% of the world's known PGM reserves. In order to achieve this, the structure is aimed at the parallel development of knowledge and technology across all areas of the Hydrogen and Fuel Cell value chain, allowing for the establishment of a strong R&D Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technology exporting added value PGM materials, components and complete products. Each Centre has a unique responsibility, but all three are complementary within the common vision of fostering proactive innovation and developing the human resources required to undertake competitive R&D activities in the field of Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technologies. The first five years of funding focused on developing infrastructures at each Centre with a major emphasis upon Human Capacity Development (HCD). Relevant international expertise was recruited by each Centre to access technical support and well-established implementation networks, and to ensure the programme and its deliverables remain market related and world-class. Furthermore, to achieve the HySA strategy objectives, the three HySA Centres of Competence (see below) form a national network of research ‘Hubs’ and ‘Spokes’ through collaboration with institutions and partners from the R&D sector, higher education, as well as industry.