Three hundred and forty eight graduates, at undergraduate and postgraduate levels, recently passed through the gates of the Botswana International University of Science and Technology (BIUST), marking an increase of 30.5 percent from last year’s 266.
It was the 8th graduation held by the university since its official opening 10 years ago. BIUST also used the occasion to confer an Honorary Doctoral Degree in Science on former president and founding Chancellor of BIUST, Festus Gontebanye Mogae.
Speaking at the graduation ceremony in Palapye last Friday, BIUST Vice Chancellor, Professor Otlogetswe Totolo, said the university espouses innovative entrepreneurship as part of its core mandate.
“The university has not only embraced this but has also enshrined it as its vision which states: ‘To be an Entrepreneurial Research-Based University of Science, Engineering & Technology Internationally Recognised for its Quality and Excellence,’” he noted. “Innovation is our focus in promoting inclusive and sustainable industrialisation, and we endeavour to encourage more innovations that bring sustainable development and job creation.” According to Prof. Totolo, a BIUST tracer study has shown that at least 48 percent of BIUST graduates are employed within six months of their graduation.
Position 20 in 88 universities
“BIUST alumni are employed globally, with quite a number of them being entrepreneurs,” he said, adding that the institution is highly rated among top universities across the African continent. It was ranked Position 20 from a list of 88 universities across 20 sub-Saharan countries and at the top in Botswana by the Times Higher Education (THE) Sub-Saharan University Rankings, released on 26 June 2023.
Delivering the keynote speech, the Managing Director of Debswana Diamond Company, Andrew Motsomi, underscored the importance of cultivating a culture of entrepreneurship and creating an environment where start-ups and tech-driven enterprises can flourish, supported by access to funding, mentorship and resources.
He stated that Debswana is committed to assisting existing businesses and startups through its Citizen Economic Empowerment Programme (CEEP) wherein qualifying entities with commercially viable business propositions are assisted with mentorship and access to funding through strategic partnerships that Debswana has established with some financial institutions across the country.
“Those who succeed in these programmes constitute a springboard and a gateway into the Debswana supply chain where they can compete with other established suppliers to uptake their products and services,” Motsomi pointed out. “We have partnered with BIUST on the Entrepreneurship Challenge to create awareness and contribute to this critical capability.” He emphasised that Debswana is committed to empowering young people and ensuring that they are a part of the high-impact initiatives that will contribute to Botswana’s socio-economic development.
New diamond deal
“In line with the recent renewal of the Government of Botswana and De Beers Agreement, we look ahead with optimism and pride to the establishment of an academy where young people will be trained in the diamond trade,” he said.
“This will ensure that young Batswana become knowledgeable with relevant, quality education that is outcome-based.” The Minister of Education and Skills Development, Dr. Douglas Letsholathebe, encouraged the graduates to be innovative, become champions of equality and fairness, and strive to create opportunities for all.
“As you enter various sectors, consider the impact of your actions on the environment and future generations,” the minister intoned. “Strive for sustainable practices in business, technology and everyday life.” Dr. Letsholathebe also encouraged the graduates to set their sights on the international job market because BIUST has equipped them with a world-class education, cutting-edge research opportunities and a diverse learning environment.