South Africa is a country with significant socio-economic development challenges. The majority of South Africans have limited or non-existent access to basic infrastructure, services, education, primary health care, housing and socio-economic opportunities. The urban housing backlog exceeds 2.4 million houses, with many families living in squatter housing or informal settlements. The Breaking New Grounds Policy, 2014 for the creation of sustainable human settlements, acknowledges the challenges facing human settlements, such as, decreasing human settlements grants allocation, increasing housing backlog, mushrooming of informal settlements and urbanisation.
On 1 March 2021, the Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf), the Department of Science and Innovation (DSI) and the University of Johannesburg hosted a virtual discussion on Exploring the Prospects of Using 3D Printing Technology in the South African Human Settlements as part of the Innovation for Inclusive Development (IID) Seminar Series.
South Africa has committed itself to attain the objectives of the Urban Agenda and Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations. This global commitment requires South Africa to increase access to housing to all households. Embracing, incubating and scaling-up innovations will be critical to advance the efforts of South Africa to deliver services and achieve the international objectives.
Environmentally conscious builders and consumers have begun creating a market for alternative and innovative building products, and a proliferation of products has ensued.
The White Paper on Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) 2019, notes that South Africa has not yet fully benefited from the potential of STI in addressing the socio-economic challenges of the country. The White Paper Policy intent supports the concept of the circular economy which entails a systematic change of moving to a zero or low waste resource-efficient society. Further to this, the Science and Technology Roadmap seeks to unlock the potential of South Africa’s human settlements for a decent standard of living; safe, resilient and sustainable households and neighbourhoods through the smart uptake of science, technology and innovation. The technological, social and economic effects of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) are changing the world we live in. These technological innovations could pave the roadmap to improve on housing delivery.