- Minister says engineers are natural innovators
- Calls them critical to Botswana’s economic transformation
Speaking at the 2nd Engineers Forum that was held at Boipuso Hall in Gaborone recently, Minister Molale said the engineering profession has to play a meaningful role in seeing Botswana’s socio-economic status gain an upward trajectory from an upper-middle income to a high-income economy so that Botswana may be counted among countries fully participating in the technological advancement sweeping the world.
Themed “Creative Engineering Value Chain – Advancing Towards Industry 4.0,” Molale said the topic resonates well with the government’s priorities and aspirations and calls for innovation from the engineering community. “It implores all of us in the engineering community to be creative and innovative as we apply ourselves to work in the entire engineering value chain,” said the minister. “This will expedite both our fraternity’s and indeed Botswana’s developmental nexus to fully embrace the 4th Industrial Revolution.”
He noted that it ties in neatly with Botswana’s national development aspirations of attaining a high income economy status through knowledge and innovation. Minister Molale called on the engineering community to live up to its expectations of being a developmental player by helping transform and diversify Botswana’s economic away from mineral revenue.
“Government has embarked on the economic transformation drive to reduce dependence on mineral revenue and to generate growth based on competitiveness, productivity, efficiency and openness to the world,” he said, adding that engineers are natural innovators and therefore are expected to take the lead in a multi-stakeholder effort to generate solutions to challenges.
He identified the challenges besieging the economy as high rates of unemployment, huge income gaps, poor service delivery, the environmental impact of climate change which stifles food production and drives up the cost of living, corruption, crime, non-communicable diseases and now the COVID-19 pandemic, among others.
Requisite infrastructure for innovators to make use of is already there, Molale added, listing institutions of higher learning, technical colleges, the Botswana Innovation Hub (BIH), the Companies and Intellectual Property Authority (CIPA) and the Botswana Bureau of Standards (BOBS) as examples of such infrastructure.
However, despite buttressing the need for engineers to contribute to GDP growth through their work, the minister took the opportunity to put across challenges hindering economic growth in Botswana.
Abandoned projects, delivery of substandard engineering work, increase in engineering-related litigation, bulging project cost overruns on public works, a disconnect between industry and academia concomitant skills mismatch between academic programmes and actual skills needed by the industry, and engineers who practise without registering with the Engineers Registration Board are among the challenges.
“My ministry is working to set up a Construction Industry Authority to better expound regulation of the industry,” he disclosed. He disclosed that amending the Engineers Registration Act is on the cards because the government has concluded consultations with stakeholders and is about to present instructions to the Attorney Generals Chambers. In addition to encouraging engineers to help with real solutions to Botswana’s economic problems, Molale urged institutions of learning to prioritise Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) subjects.