Gov’t, stakeholders urged to financially support Innovations
By Dave Baaitse
On Tuesday this week Botswana Innovation Hub held their Innovation Vendor day which shall become a key event in their annual calendar and is aligned to the National Science Technology and Innovation (STI) month.
This month was set aside by the Ministry of Infrastructure Science and Technology to share information and showcase Science Technology and Innovation in Botswana with an array of Science and Technology related events across the country. The STI month was launched by the Minister of Infrastructure Science and Technology, Hon Nonofo Molefhi on the 4th August 2015 in Gaborone.
The Innovation Vendor day and exhibition is an initiative of the Botswana Innovation Hub to publicise its mandate and showcase current innovation programmes offering and relevance to Batswana. It is symbolised by technology demonstrations, innovation pitch sessions, innovation exhibitions and networking activities.
The Objective of the Innovation Vendor day is to sensitize stakeholders of current developments within the Botswana Innovation Hub and Science, Technology and Innovation in general.
The Botswana Innovation Hub is a product of the Botswana Excellence Strategy of 2008 where Government sought to establish a Science and Technology Park to contribute to economic diversification efforts through Science, Technology and Innovation prospects which have been forecasted future drivers of the economy beyond mineral wealth.
The under construction Science Park is an organisation managed by specialised professionals, whose main aim is to increase the wealth of its community by promoting the culture of innovation and the competitiveness of its associated businesses and knowledge-based institutions.
The Park will stimulate and manage the flow of knowledge and technology amongst universities, R&D institutions, companies and markets; facilitate the creation and growth of innovation-based companies through incubation and spin-off processes as well as provide other value-added services together with high quality space and facilities.
Botswana Innovation Hub, through its wholly owned subsidiary Botswana Innovation Hub Properties, engages in property development and facilities management activities within the Science and Technology Park. Their commercial and real estate proposition include creating a physical workspace – office and lab space for rental, serviced land for lease or co-development, and superior ICT infrastructure and services.
The construction of the (23 000 sqm) Icon Building, a key attraction to the Park, is well underway. Attendants had an opportunity to appreciate the creative process that led to the building and the progress to date, later touring the Park. It is envisaged that the Icon Building will house key technology multinationals, such as, Microsoft, Oracle, Dimension Data, as tenants, but also as strategic and collaborative partners in the innovation agenda. The development of the icon building provides physical platform for business and networking opportunities.
The building will comprise superior ICT services, office spaces, high-end laboratories, meeting rooms, a 250 seater auditorium, communal garden sand a range of shared amenities. It represents modern thinking in the design of green buildings and it is intended to set a trend.
While officiating at the event BIH Chairman of Board of Directors Neo Moroka said Strategic partnerships and collaborations are a corner stone of our business model. To this end, Botswana Innovation Hub has since established more than 20 partnerships which have delivered amongst others, private sector driven innovation support programmes and high impact technology oriented projects.
The Microsoft Corporation under the auspices Microsoft Innovation Centre (MIC) has recently renewed its commitment to work with Botswana Innovation Hub in delivering innovation led initiatives and capacity building programmes.
“In addition, I am pleased with the recent Special Economic Zone Bill which the Parliament recently passed as this will designate the Science and Technology Park as an SEZ which will not only extend more incentives to BIH registered members but also improve doing business environment. Our membership and partnerships records currently stand at 90 registrations in the four sectors of mining technology, biotechnology, energy and environment and lastly Information and Communications Technologies”, said Moroka.
Lastly he acknowledged that innovation needs investments especially financial, he urged Government and key industry practitioners to appreciate that Innovation is the game changer in our national competitiveness. He asked them to continue to support grassroots innovations which will go a long way in creating a global footprint about our culture.
Microsoft and Innovation Hub together with key partners are working together to pilot a new type of technology to deliver broadband access called “TV Whitespace” in Lobatse, Francistown, and Maun. In telecommunications, White Spaces refer to frequencies allocated to a broadcasting service but not used locally. Botswana Innovation Hub has requested for a special pilot license to run this project with its partners.
“This is a cutting edge technology that has the potential of providing cheaper broadband internet connectivity to areas that were not connected before. The technology is ideal as it can work in areas where there is no electricity, and it can lower the cost of an access base station by a factor of 10,” stated Manager of the Microsoft Innovation Centre, Patel Barwabatsile.
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Pep Stores donates sanitary towels to Popagano JSS
The Guidance and Counseling unit at Popagano Junior Secondary School received a donation of 790 sanitary towels from Pep stores on Thursday.
When presenting the donation, Mareledi Thebeng, the Dinokaneng Area Manager, highlighted their belief in giving back to the community, as their existence depends on the communities they serve. Thebeng pointed out that research indicates one in four girls miss school every day due to the lack of basic necessities like sanitary towels. Therefore, as a company, they strive to assist in alleviating this situation. She expressed hope that this donation would help ensure uninterrupted learning for girls.
Upon receiving the donation on behalf of the students, Charity Sambire, the President of the Student Representative Council, expressed her gratitude. Sambire specifically thanked Pep Store for their generous gift, speaking on behalf of the students, especially the girl child.
She conveyed their sincere appreciation for Pep Store’s compassion and quoted the adage, “Blessed is the hand that gives.” Sambire expressed the students’ hope for Pep Storesâ€™ prosperity, enabling them to continue supporting the students. As a gesture of gratitude, the students pledged to excel academically.
During her speech, Motlalepula Madome, the Senior Teacher in Guidance and Counseling, highlighted that many students at the school come from disadvantaged backgrounds where parents struggle to provide basic necessities. Consequently, some students miss school when they experience menstruation due to this lack.
Madome emphasized the significance of the donation in preventing the girl child from missing lessons and its potential to improve the school’s overall results. She expressed the school’s gratitude and expressed a desire for continued support from Pep Stores.
Popagano Junior Secondary School, situated in the Okavango District, holds the second position academically in the North West region. Despite its location, the school has been dedicated to achieving excellence since 2017
Botswana misses out critical PAP committee meeting
The Pan African Parliament (PAP) committee on gender, family, youth and people with disability in its sitting considered, adopted and recommended to the plenary session the preliminary report on the framework for the model law on gender equality.
According to the last weekâ€™s media release from PAP which is sitting with its various committees until June 2nd,Â the committee is following up the PAP initiative to draw up a model law on gender equality to enable national governments to harmonize, modernize and standardize their legislations to address local needs is set to be discussed in Plenary.
However, what is concerning is the fact that Botswana which is a member state missed the deliberations. Kgosi Mosadi Seboko who sat in the committee representing Botswana has since been ejected by parliament and this is a huge blow for a nation that is still battling equity and gender balance.
â€śAlthough PAP has no legislative powers it makes model laws for member states to adopt. PAP also develops protocols to be ratified by countries. The input of countries at Committee state is extremely critical. It now means the voice of Botswana is missing the discussions leading up to development of protocols or model laws,â€ť said one of Botswanaâ€™s representative at PAP Dr. Kesitegile Gobotswang who is attending the current session.
While Botswana is missing, the committee meeting took place on the sidelines of the Sixth PAP second ordinary Session being held under the African Union Theme of the Year for 2023, â€śThe Year of AfCFTA: Accelerating the Implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Areaâ€ť in Midrand, South Africa and will run up to 2 June 2023. Chairperson of the Committee, Hon Mariam Dao-Gabala expressed satisfaction with preliminary processes undertaken so far towards the formulation of the Model Law,â€ť a release from the PAP website reads.
“The law should be suitable to all countries whatever the predominant culture or religion is. The aim is to give an opportunity to women to participate in the economic, political and social development of the continent. Women are not well positioned and face a lot of obstacles. We are introducing the idea of equity in the Law because we cannot talk about equality without equity,” said Hon Mariam Dao-Gabala in the press statement.
The release has stated that among issues to be covered by the Model Law is the migratory movements of women. The Committee proffered that this has to be addressed at the continental level to ensure that migrant women enjoy all their rights and live with dignity in their destination country. The members of the Gender Committee undertook consultations to consolidate the contributions of the various stakeholders that will be the logical framework format for the Model Law.
BDP MPs demand review of Ministers performance
Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) backbenchers were left frustrated when State Minister Kabo Morwaeng failed to furnish them with reports from various ministries at a party retreat held last month.
The two-day retreat of BDP MPs at Notwane Farms was held to discuss the implementation and progress of government projects in line with the partyâ€™s 2019 general elections manifesto, in order to assert themselves and press the President to take action against ineffective members of his cabinet. They believed that the laxity of these members could cost them the elections next year.
To accomplish this, the party had requested that each ministry submit their reports to the State Ministry, as it was the most senior ministry. These reports were expected to be assessed at the retreat to evaluate service delivery and the implementation of the party manifesto.
The ministries submitted their performance reports to the Ministry as agreed, but Masisi and the MPs did not have the opportunity to review them. This was the main agenda of the retreat, but when it commenced, and many were anticipating the reports, they were nowhere to be found.
â€śMinister Morwaeng told us (MPs) that he forgot to prepare them, and as a result, there was nothing to discuss. He said he would share those reports in our WhatsApp group. To us, that was an insult because it is a very serious matter, and we needed to discuss it and see which ministry is failing and how it can be assisted to ensure that service delivery is met,â€ť revealed one MP to WeekendPost.
Reliable sources have informed this publication that one of the reasons why the reports were not shared is due to the poor performance of the State Ministry. It is said that the Minister decided not to share the reports because it would portray him as incompetent, especially since President Masisi was present and seeking suggestions from MPs.
It is understood that the Ministry of Lands and Water Affairs, as well as the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development, performed well, while the Ministry of Health and the State Ministry performed poorly.
The MPs are primarily concerned about the lack of correlation between the ministries’ recurrent and development budgets.
“You would notice that in some cases, a ministry would spend their recurrent budget accordingly, but when you look at their development expenditure, it is at 15 percent. That’s the money that should ensure that people receive services and amenities, and we wanted to advise ministers to communicate with bureaucrats to address this,” added the MP.
Without the reports, and with the expected agenda now in tatters, it is said that President Masisi asked MPs to come up with suggestions on how to win public confidence to secure victory in the next elections. It was at this point that backbenchers asked President Mokgweetsi Masisi to crack the whip on ineffectual ministers who had failed to fulfill their mandates. MPs expressed their concerns to the President, particularly regarding the state of affairs at the hospitals.
“There is a serious shortage of medicines and personnel in our areas, especially in rural areas. We have been complaining about this situation for some time, but there seems to be no change,â€ť one MP told WeekendPost.
â€śThe state of our roads and infrastructure is in disrepair. What irks us the most is that we have been complaining about these things for some time, but there has been no change. We demand progress.”
The issue of poor delivery and the significant deficit in the ruling party’s election promises is so severe that President Masisi had his ministers sign performance agreements and annual performance plans. The President effectively read them the riot act, informing them that they would be fired if they continued to fall short in delivering on their mandates.
He told journalists at a press conference that he recently had a serious engagement with Minister of Health Minister Dr. Edwin Dikoloti and Assistant Minister of Health Sethomo Lelatisitswe regarding the deplorable state of affairs at public health facilities.