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Agric twist: Botswana benchmarks in Israel

The world is evolving from old ways of doing business, providing service and ways of day to day life-technology is today’s blueprint to almost every undertaking.

World economies are devising innovative ways to create employment, grow their wealth base and better service their people and Botswana as a middle income state and developing economy is no exception. Currently the economy is heavily dependent on the finite mineral sector. The country is food insecure and largely depends on imports from neighbouring South Africa for almost every commodity used in our day to day life and the manufacturing sector remains untapped.

The agricultural space which is viewed with significant potential in economic diversification and employment creation is currently not fully explored. Within the agricultural sector, Botswana currently solicits revenue from the Beef sector but the industry is evidently not performing well, not as much faster adapting to modern ways compared to the Namibian and Brazilian industries.

However Botswana is progressing well when it comes to instilling the innovative culture amongst its economic engines and service delivery mechanism. The fundamental focus currently is on transforming the economy to being knowledge based, export led as well as private sector dominated where government only plays the role of facilitator and regulator. Botswana’s need to come up with cutting edge innovative ways of diversifying the economy was emphasized  at the National Innovation workshop organized by the Botswana Innovation Hub (BIH) in Gaborone on Monday.

It has been reiterated that Botswana needed to come up with national frameworks and blueprints that can cultivate the culture of innovation. Dr Theophilus Mooko Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Tertiary Education, Research, Science & Technology said it was no longer a matter of choice whether to be  innovative or not. “Our diamonds and other natural resources are depleting, we have to content with the thought of survival based innovation,” he said.

Mooko said time may not be on Botswana‘s side and that the country needed to tap into existing opportunities within the research and innovation space. He however cautioned that it was necessary to develop innovative strategies that are on the times with the global, technological and innovative outlook noting that otherwise Botswana may realize less progress from any other undertakings. “Our national innovation system would need to link with what is happening with our regional outlook,” he said.

As a developing economy Botswana acknowledges the need to learn and draw inspiration and strategic technical knowhow on issues of planning and policy crafting. In the area of innovation Botswana located Israel which is a country in the Middle East semi deserted with climatic conditions and natural vegetation much similar to that of Botswana or even worse. Israel has done exceptionally well in the area of innovation to attain 95 % food security and almost 100% employment rate. The Middle East country with rich ancient and religious history has also established itself as a ‘start up’ nation.

According to a report recently released by the Israel Innovation Authority,  is Israel home to over 2000 start-ups that were founded in the past decade, 3 000 small medium start-ups and high–tech companies, 30 growth companies, 50 large technology companies and 3 00 research & development centres of multinational corporations. Out of those start-ups 187 raised over 1.7 billion US Dollars in the second quarter of 2016 .The World Economic forum’s Global Competitiveness report 2016-2017 also recognizes Israel as the second most innovative nation in the world . The report ranks countries based on innovation including technological readiness, business sophistication and higher education.

The Agricultural sector which Botswana hopes to explore to reduce its import bill, diversify the economy and create employment with, is a highly developed industry in Israel. Israel is a major exporter of fresh produce and a world-leader in agricultural technologies despite the fact that the geography of Israel is not naturally conducive to agriculture. More than half of the land area is desert, and the climate and lack of  water resources do not favour farming. Only 20% of the land area is naturally arable. In 2008 agriculture represented 2.5% of total GDP and 3.6% of exports. While farm workers made up only 3.7% of the work force, Israel produced 95% of its own food requirements, supplementing this with imports of grain, oilseeds, meat, coffee, cocoa and sugar, figures which have seen a quadruple growth today.

At the workshop on Monday, it was noted that Botswana stands to benefit significantly from their benchmark exercises with Israel.  Gershon Kadar Ambassador of Israel to Botswana said his country takes pride in the agricultural innovation, taking into fact that Israel is relatively a desert .He said their water and irrigation system technology was the best in the world. Kadar revealed that about 35 Batswana students in the disciplines of Agriculture will go for an 11 month program in Israel where they will get exposure to Israel’s high tech world class agricultural innovative centres.

The students are expected to leave for Jerusalem in September this year. He said they will be learning Israel technologies undergoing both practical and academic capacity building from the high level research and innovation centres in the land. Anya Eldan –Vice President of Israel Innovation Authority said it was important that innovation policies have a specific economic call. “Otherwise it will not achieve progress, in Israel our Research & development is the best in the world,” she said. Eldan also noted that Israel had spent 4.5 % of their GDP on research and development. “The idea is not just for government to spent money on research & development to support innovation but to also build programs that leverage that money and brings the private sector on board,” she explained

Mooko asserted that it was important that Botswana learns from Israel’s innovation and to solicit opportunities that arise out of innovation to create jobs and grow the country’s economy. Botswana Innovation Hub Chief Executive Alan Boshwaen said their primary mandate was to drive the national innovation agenda with special emphasis on facilitating the commercialization of innovation.

“We are especially concerned with ensuring that new innovative products and services emerge at the end of a chain that involves research and engagement of industry role players and other stakeholders,” said Boshwaen. The Botswana Innovation Hub was established to contribute to the country’s economic development and competitiveness by creating new scientific, technological, and indigenous knowledge-based business opportunities. BIH fosters entrepreneurship and technology transfer, generates knowledge-based jobs, and attracts innovative companies and institutions to Botswana.

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DJ Bafana’s one man show on the cards

21st February 2024

DJ Bafana, a talented DJ from Francistown, is gearing up to host his very own one-man show, a groundbreaking event that aims to not only showcase his skills but also empower fellow musicians. This ambitious project is currently in the planning stages, with DJ Bafana actively seeking out potential sponsors to help bring his vision to life.

In a recent interview with WeekendPost, DJ Bafana revealed that he is in talks with two potential venues, Limpopo Gardens and Molapo Leisure Gardens, to host his show. However, he is facing challenges in securing sponsorships from companies, particularly those who do not fully understand the importance of music-related events. Despite this setback, DJ Bafana remains determined to make his one-man show a reality and to use it as a platform to empower and support other artists in the industry.

What sets DJ Bafana’s show apart is the fact that he will be making history as the first person living with a disability to host a one-man show in Botswana. This milestone is a testament to his resilience and determination to break barriers and pave the way for others in similar situations. By showcasing his talent and passion for music, DJ Bafana is not only proving his worth as an artist but also inspiring others to pursue their dreams, regardless of any obstacles they may face.

As DJ Bafana continues to work towards making his one-man show a reality, he remains focused on his goal of empowering and uplifting his fellow musicians. Through his dedication and perseverance, he is setting an example for others to follow and showing that anything is possible with hard work and determination. The date for the show is yet to be announced, but one thing is for certain – DJ Bafana’s one-man show is sure to be a memorable and inspiring event for all who attend.

 

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Lady of Soul remains tenacious as ever

21st February 2024

Radio Personality Tebogo Sekgoma affectionately known as Lady of Soul is determined to keep pursuing her ambitions vigorously, in spite of hurdles and stumbling blocks.

In an exclusive interview with this publication, Sekgoma divulged that she is working on her memoir. Although she won’t reveal much, the broadcast veteran said she will essentially be telling the story of her life.

The former Sunday Live host is also serving as a board member (Secretary General) at Botswana Association of the Blind and Partially Sighted (BABPS). She is actively involved in advocating for the rights of the visually impaired, a hiccup she refused to succumb to.

 

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Inside the new disability Law

21st February 2024

The new Disability Law in Botswana is a significant step towards ensuring the rights and inclusion of persons living with disabilities in the country. This act, which was passed into law on the 11th of December 2023, is a reflection of Botswana’s commitment to upholding the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

One of the key provisions of the act is the prohibition of discrimination against persons with disabilities in work-related matters. This means that employers will no longer be able to discriminate against individuals based on their disability when it comes to hiring, promotion, or any other aspect of employment. This is a crucial step towards creating a more inclusive and equitable society for all.

The act also establishes a National Disability Council, which will be responsible for overseeing the implementation of the act and ensuring that the rights of persons with disabilities are protected. This council will play a vital role in advocating for the rights of persons with disabilities and ensuring that they have equal access to opportunities in all areas of life.

In addition to prohibiting discrimination in the workplace, the act also sets out disability standards that must be adhered to by employers and other entities. These standards are designed to ensure that persons with disabilities are able to access the same opportunities and services as everyone else, without facing any barriers or discrimination.

Furthermore, the act provides for actions plans to be developed to address the needs of persons with disabilities, as well as administrative penalties and fines for those who fail to comply with the provisions of the act. This sends a clear message that discrimination against persons with disabilities will not be tolerated in Botswana.

Overall, the new Disability Law in Botswana is a positive step towards creating a more inclusive and equitable society for all. By prohibiting discrimination in the workplace and setting out clear standards for the treatment of persons with disabilities, this act will help to ensure that all individuals, regardless of their abilities, have the opportunity to fully participate in society.

 

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