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Bots win right to host prestigious Innovation Event

Botswana which is celebrating its 50 year of independence this year has won the right to host the 5th Innovation Prize for Africa event here in Gaborone, with the theme "Made in Africa."

"Botswana's nomination and subsequent decision to award the bid to host the IPA awards this year does not come as a surprise because we have provided all the necessary foundations to enable innovation to thrive in Botswana. We remain committed to supporting innovators to reach greater heights by facilitating for development of a robust national system of innovation (NSI)," said Dikagiso Mokotedi, Permanent Secretary for Ministry of Infrastructure of Science and Technology.

He said, "The hosting of the IPA awards will allow Botswana to showcase the epitome of innovation in Africa here in Gaborone. The event will allow local innovators, partners, inventors and the general public to appreciate Africa level innovations and their funding framework while instilling and motivating our innovators."

According to officials the Government of Botswana developed the first Science and Technology Policy in 1998, this was followed by the establishment of the Ministry of Communications Science and Technology in 2003, with the mandate to establish strategies for harnessing Science technology and Innovation for economic development.

A strategic blueprint, the Botswana National Research Science and Technology Plan (BNRST) document, laying the foundations for an implementation strategy for STI was completed in 2005.

Under the current National Science Technology and Innovation Policy of 2012, and its implementation plan there is a specific provision for setting up appropriate administrative structures, research and development funding instruments and strategic projects.

Government has also taken bold step to establish the Botswana International University of Science and Technology (BIUST), Botswana Institute for Technology Research and Innovation (BITRI), the University of Botswana's new teaching Hospital all of which are strategic initiatives to promote research, technology transfer and innovation with commercial emphasis and relevance to Botswana.

"The government is also facilitating creation of synergies among government, academia, private sector, industry and businesses through the Botswana Innovation Hub, a science and technology park initiative now underway," said Mokotedi.

He said, "Commercialization of Research and Innovation is essential for economic growth. However it is also requires funding: "Researchers burn money to generate knowledge and Business burn knowledge to generate money". Therefore, commercialization of new innovations is part of our national strategies to economic growth and employment creation."

With this synopsis of the Policy setting for STI, Government is facilitating for policies that support commercialization of Indigenous knowledge and Intellectual property protection to ensure that grassroots innovations are included in the commercialization drive.

"During these fifty years of independence Botswana has developed strategies with key policies that will take us beyond our mineral endowments and to shape our country into a knowledge economy," said Mokotedi.

He said, "Our objective in hosting this milestone awards is that Botswana is now laying its strong future foundations in Science Technology and Innovation through a number of key interventions including the Botswana Innovation Hub."

The hosting of the event is expected to have an immense impact on building a culture of innovation and re –igniting linkages between public, private and academic organisations in Botswana.

 

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