Letsholatlhebe unveils eco-hub classroom
The need for alternative solutions and ways of doing business is being felt across the board, hence innovation is vital to survival and economic transformation.
For Botswana, the Minister of Tertiary Education, Research, Science and Technology, Dr Douglas Letsholathebe, says this has heightened the urgency to activate digital and online services.
Speaking at the unveiling of an eco-hub sustainable housing unit by Botswana Innovation Hub (BIH) in Lobatse on Tuesday this week, Letsholathebe said it is now more important than ever to consider technology for a possible economic turnaround because COVID-19 has changed life form how it used to be.
Following a review of the National Development Plan (NDP) 11 and approval of implementation of the Economic Recovery and Transformation Plan (ERTP), government saw the need to promote innovation and to develop capacity for innovation among Batswana.
Letsholathebe said the current reality and the government’s commitment to improving and transforming the economy, BIF received additional supplementary funding under ERTP that is due to stimulate the innovation ecosystem through implementation of relevant projects that will propel Botswana towards achieving Vision 2036 aspirations.
The minister explained that BIF provides funding, including conditional grants to innovative projects at prototype level to support them to pre-commercial level or to proof of concept. Under certain circumstances, funding is provided until a project secures the status of Minimum Viable Product (MVP).
With the supplementary funding, Letsholathebe stated that BIF seeks to support projects that deliver solutions in the agriculture and tourism sectors, among others, while also adopting digital transformation to add value to local businesses. “We desire to have all government services provided through e-platforms, especially cell phones or/and tablets/iPads,” he said.
He noted that promoting uptake of technologies associated with the Fourth Industrial Revolution to value add will also be emphasised among projects that will be implemented going forward.
After being rolled out in 2018, Letsholathebe said it pleases him to see that the BIF project portfolio is already showing results, and that Batswana are witnessing the first of its products at pre-commercial level. “The ‘new normal,’ as it is termed, presents a great opportunity for us to refine our products and services and find market opportunities locally and regionally, taking advantage of existing instruments such as the Africa Free Continental Trade Agreement (AfCTA),” the minister said.
The CEO of BIF, Alan Boshwaen, spoke about projects and beneficiation, noting that the government has placed new emphasis on innovation and technology uptake as the new mode of growth for the economy because they are aware that innovation is a key enabler of the next wave of economic development.