As Botswana fast tracks its quest to transform the economy to knowledge based anchored on science and research, government established a number of parastatals to enhance technology and innovation amongst other efforts.
In September last year government rearranged ministries to align departments and parastatals in an aim to enhance service delivery and effective output and return of investment, and excises that saw the birth of Ministry of Tertiary Education, Research & Technology a split merger from the Education Ministry and Ministry of Infrastructure & Science & Technology.
Within the Ministry of Tertiary Education now there is Botswana Innovation Hub (BIH) and Botswana Institute of Technology Research and Innovation (BITRI). Established in 2012, to conduct needs-based research and development in focused areas, mandated with identifying, developing and adaption of appropriate technology solutions that provides sustainable innovative solutions through co-creation and collaboration in line with national priorities and needs of Batswana, BITRI seems to be on the right track to fulfill its purpose.
Though the whole institution is ran with a huge budget to finance projects and remunerate experts which sometimes attracts negative commentary from critics, the parastatals is evidently impressing its client, being the Botswana government. Last week the parastatal officially launched an intensive central material and analytic science laboratory in Gaborone, a centre that will intensify cutting edge solution seeking research and addressing of everyday life scientific problems.
When giving a key note address, the Minister of Tertiary Education, Reserch Science & Technology commended BITRI for coming up with a facility of such magnitude within a short space of time. “This is service delivery and hard work that as a country we can boast of , for having such a state of the art facility with a short period of time , and further more its more thrilling to learn that this center was set up by citizen scientists and expert , that deserves a round of applauds,” he said . The laboratory which is one of its kind in the whole f Southern Africa is resourced with world class analytical equipment and apparatus and will output research and experiment findings within a space of 24 hours.
Madigele said the successful setting up of the laboratory was a clear demonstration of government commitment to develop research technology and innovation in Botswana “what matters most is not the amount that was invested in such a project but the value and return of investment that will be derived from such an injection of taxpayers funds,’’ said Madigele .
The BITRI center for material science is a world class Analytical facility that includes High Resolution SEM and EBSD trident system. This is a national facility and will be accepting samples and collaborative projects to equip science based research and innovation in a quest to solve exiting economic problems and eventual create jobs and realize much needed diversification from mineral sector dependency.
Prof Sesae Mpuchane indicated that no consultant was engaged in delivering the laboratory as it was only the work of BITRI experts and assistance from government and other stakeholders demonstrating the capability of Batswana scientists and researchers. Mpuchane who is a member of the BITRI Board of directors also commended the BITRI Chief Executive and his team for the job well done.
BITRI Chief Executive Officer, Professor Torto observed that the state of the art facility will not only benefit his institution but other researchers from different government departments, parastatals and academic institutions would use the center for their impactful experiments and studies. Chairman of BITRI Board, Edwin Elias said the material science lab will go a long way in creating awareness on the importance of material fabrication and characterization.
Ever since its inception Botswana Institute of Technology Research & Innovation commenced a number of projects in line with its mandate aimed at solving existing societal and environmental problem with science and innovative solutions. Due to animal-vehicle collisions (AVC) because of worn out fences which cannot effectively keep animals from the roads, BITRI proposed the deployment of smart sensor systems with intelligent algorithms to automatically adapt and even predict traffic flow for a seamless transportation experience for all.
In addition to that the institution has since also suggested the adoption of a solar based road safety system with acoustical features to deter animals from the road upon oncoming vehicle detections. Also adding to the famous a solar street light project called SEDING and coal to liquid technologies (CTL) projects by BITRI the 5 year also parastatal BITRI is also working on a project developing decision support simulation tools based on scientifically validated indigenous/traditional and conventional knowledge for increasing agricultural production and food security in Africa in the context of a changing climate.
This week Minister of Finance & Economic Development, Dr Thapelo Matsheka approached parliament seeking lawmakers approval of Government’s intention to increase bond program ceiling from the current P15 Billion to P30 billion.
“I stand to request this honorable house to authorize increase in bond issuance program from the current P15 billion to P30 billion,” Dr Matsheka said. He explained that due to the halt in economic growth occasioned by COVID-19 pandemic government had to revisit options for funding the national budget, particularly for the second half of the National Development Plan (NDP) 11.
Botswana Stock Exchange (BSE) has this week revealed a gloomy picture of diamond mining newcomer, Lucara, with its stock devaluated and its entire business affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
A BSE survey for a period between 1st January to 31st August 2020 — recording the second half of the year, the third quarter of the year and five months of coronavirus in Botswana — shows that the Domestic Company Index (DCI) depreciated by 5.9 percent.
Botswana Diamond PLC, a diamond exploration company trading on both London Stock Exchange Alternative Investment Market (AIM) and Botswana Stock Exchange (BSE) on Monday unlocked value from its shares to raise capital for its ongoing exploration works in Botswana and South Africa.
A statement from the company this week reveals that the placing was with existing and new investors to raise £300,000 via the issue of 50,000,000 new ordinary shares at a placing price of 0.6p per Placing Share.
Each Placing Share, according to Botswana Diamond Executives has one warrant attached with the right to subscribe for one new ordinary share at 0.6p per new ordinary share for a period of two years from, 7th September 2020, being the date of the Placing Warrants issue.
In a statement Chairman of Botswana Diamonds, John Teeling explained that the funds raised will be used to fund ongoing exploration activities during the current year in Botswana and South Africa, and to provide additional working capital for the Company.
The company is currently drilling kimberlite M8 on the Marsfontein licence in South Africa and has generated further kimberlite targets which will be drilled on the adjacent Thorny River concession.
In Botswana, the funds will be focused on commercializing the KX36 project following the recent acquisition of Sekaka Diamonds from Petra Diamonds. This will include finalizing a work programme to upgrade the grades and diamond value of the kimberlite pipe as well as investigating innovative mining options.
Drilling is planned for the adjacent Sunland Minerals property and following further assessment of the comprehensive Sekaka database more drilling targets are likely. “This is a very active and exciting time for Botswana Diamonds. We are drilling the very promising M8 kimberlite at Marsfontein and further drilling is likely on targets identified on the adjacent Thorny River ground,” he said.
The company Board Chair further noted, “We have a number of active projects. The recently acquired KX36 diamond resource in the Kalahari offers great potential. While awaiting final approvals from the Botswana authorities some of the funds raised will be used to detail the works we will do to refine grade, size distribution and value per carat.”
In addition BOD said the Placing Shares will rank pari passu with the Company’s existing ordinary shares. Application will be made for the Placing Shares to be admitted to trading on AIM and it is expected that such admission will become effective on or around 23 September 2020.
Last month Botswana Diamond announced that it has entered into agreement with global miner Petra Diamonds to acquire the latter’s exploration assets in Botswana. Key to these assets, housed under Sekaka Diamonds, 100 % subsidiary of Petra is the KX36 Diamond discovery, a high grade ore Kimberlite pipe located in the CKGR, considered Botswana’s next diamond glory after the magnificent Orapa and prolific Jwaneng Mines.
The acquisition entailed two adjacent Prospecting Licences and a diamond processing plant. Sekaka has been Petra’s exploration vehicle in Botswana for year and holds three Prospecting Licenses in the Central Kalahari Game Reserve (Kalahari) PL169/2019, PL058/2007 and PL224/2007, which includes the high grade KX36 kimberlite pipe.