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Advisory body to fast track national innovation agenda

In what has been accepted as international practice, government last week launched the Research, Science, and Technology and Innovation (RSTI) advisory committee. This committee is expected to take the forefront in advising and crafting of guidelines and implementation frameworks of the national innovation agenda.

Governments worldwide have advisory bodies that interact with government at the highest level to guide and advice on integration of global trends, comparative advantage and market demands in setting up national Research, Science and Technology priorities for efficient use of limited resources.

Botswana is currently moving in high speed to transform its economy from being resources based to knowledge based. Research, science and technology as well as innovation are viewed as key factors to realizing an industrial and export based economy driven by the private sector. Speaking at the launch Minister of Tertiary Education, Research, Science & Technology Alfred Madigele said the committee will be a vital role player in the implementation of the Research Science Technology and Innovation Policy.

The minister said Botswana was determined to diversify its economy from reliance on minerals, especially diamonds. “However, time is ripe for discovery of new sources of revenue with a clear conscious mind that natural resources are not for forever,” he said. This committee establishment comes on the back of concerns and recommendations from a number of engagements and dialogues. Currently Botswana already has some structures for advising on how to leverage the capabilities of RSTI in driving the country’s social and economic development.

Madigele said the Economic Diversification Drive Policy and Strategy raised a concern that although Botswana has experienced four decades of rapid economic growth, the economy continues to be less diversified and driven by primary products of diamonds, copper/nickel and beef, with a high import bill. “The EDD Strategy therefore envisages achievement of economic diversification through implementation of the EDD Technology Development, Innovation and Transfer Thematic Area. This is expected to make Botswana a vibrant technology driven economy through technological development, adaptation, transfer and innovation,” he said.

According to Minister Madigele these are core elements for competitiveness in the globalized economic environment and that through research and development, EDD strategic initiatives would inform business decisions based on needs-based research studies and reliable economic data. The Research Science Technology & Innovation Advisory Committee is expected to work with other stakeholders from parastatal, and government innovation facilitating organs.

Amongst those are the Human Resource Development Council (HRDC) Research, Innovation, Science & Technology Sector Committee which seeks to develop and create, a fully functional national RIST human resource development system where concept and scope of education, innovation and science are integrated leading to enhanced innovation and entrepreneurship. Minister Madigele who is in processes of  assembling structures under his new ministry says It has not been easy to establish the recommended structures, “ I took a deliberate step to establish a RSTI Advisory committee to provide the necessary guidance and direction” he said.

The Committee which will be chaired by the Permanent Secretary- Ministry of Tertiary Education, Research, Science and Technology will have representation from other ministries such as that of Basic Education, Agricultural Development and Food Security, as well as from Business Botswana, Statistics Botswana, Botswana Institute for Technology Research and Innovation(BITRI), Botswana Innovation Hub(BIH), Botswana International University of Science and Technology(BUIST), University of Botswana(UB), National Food technology Research Centre, Botswana Vaccine Institute, Botswana Geo-Science Institute, Botswana University of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Botswana Harvard Aids Institute Partnership, Okavango Research Institute and two (2) independent Professionals drawn from members of the public. Magidele urged the members of the RSTI Advisory Committee to objectively deliberate the issues at hand without favor or pulling to one side.

According to a recent survey undertaken by the Human Resource Development Council in collaboration with Statistics Botswana in 2016 the enrolment of students in Engineering, Manufacturing, Construction and Sciences in the country amounted to 26% of total enrolment in our tertiary institutions that year. Experts and professional as well as shrewd policy makers say engineers and scientists are the engines of research and innovation.

According to Madigele the Botswana figure on science and engineering related graduates demonstrates minimal Research, Development and Innovation intensity in the country. “Without producing sufficient numbers of graduates in pure sciences, engineering and mathematics, the country cannot expect a turn-around in research and innovation.”He said adding that it was for such reason he had to involve academia and scholars from academic institutions to advice on human resource and transformed education system crafting.

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China’s GDP expands 3% in 2022 despite various pressures

2nd February 2023
China’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) expanded by 3% year-on-year to 121.02 trillion yuan ($17.93 trillion) in 2022 despite being mired in various growth pressures, according to data from the National Bureau Statistics.

The annual growth rate beat a median economist forecast of 2.8% as polled by Reuters. The country’s fourth-quarter GDP growth of 2.9% also surpassed expectations for a 1.8% increase.

In 2022, the Chinese economy encountered more difficulties and challenges than was expected amid a complex domestic and international situation. However, NBS said economic growth stabilized after various measures were taken to shore up growth.

Industrial output rose 3.6% in 2022 over the previous year, while retail sales slightly shrank by 0.2% data show that fixed-asset investment increased 5.1% over 2021, with a 9.1% hike in manufacturing investment but a 10% fall in property investment.

China created 12.06 million new jobs in urban regions throughout the year, surpassing its annual target of 11 million, and officials have stressed the importance of continuing an employment-first policy in 2023.

Meanwhile, China tourism market is a step closer to robust recovery. Tourism operators are in high spirits because the market saw a good chance of a robust recovery during the Spring Festival holiday amid relaxed COVID-19 travel policies.

On January 27, the last day of the seven-day break, the Ministry of Culture and Tourism published an encouraging performance report of the tourism market. It said that domestic destinations and attractions received 308 million visits, up 23.1% year-on-year. The number is roughly 88.6% of that in 2019, they year before the pandemic hit.

According to the report, tourism-related revenue generated during the seven-day period was about 375.8 billion yuan ($55.41 billion), a year-on-year rise of 30%. The revenue was about 73% of that in 2019, the Ministry said.

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Jewellery manufacturing plant to create over 100 jobs

30th January 2023

The state of the art jewellery manufacturing plant that has been set up by international diamond and cutting company, KGK Diamonds Botswana will create over 100 jobs, of which 89 percent will be localized.

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Investors inject capital into Tsodilo Resources Company

25th January 2023

Local diamond and metal exploration company Tsodilo Resources Limited has negotiated a non-brokered private placement of 2,200, 914 units of the company at a price per unit of 0.20 US Dollars, which will provide gross proceeds to the company in the amount of C$440, 188. 20.

According to a statement from the group, proceeds from the private placement will be used for the betterment of the Xaudum iron formation project in Botswana and general corporate purposes.

The statement says every unit of the company will consist of a common share in the capital of the company and one Common Share purchase warrant of the company.

Each warrant will enable a holder to make a single purchase for the period of 24 months at an amount of $0.20. As per regularity requirements, the group indicates that the common shares and warrants will be subject to a four month plus a day hold period from date of closure.

Tsodilo is exempt from the formal valuation and minority shareholder approval requirements. This is for the reason that the fair market value of the private placement, insofar as it involves the director, is not more than 25% of the company’s market capitalization.

Tsodilo Resources Limited is an international diamond and metals exploration company engaged in the search for economic diamond and metal deposits at its Bosoto Limited and Gcwihaba Resources projects in Botswana.  The company has a 100% stake in Bosoto which holds the BK16 kimberlite project in the Orapa Kimberlite Field (OKF) in Botswana.

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