August 2, 2017
Minister of Tertiary Education, Research, Science and Technology Dr. Alfred Madigele delivering the Keynote Address during the Official Opening of the Centre for Materials Science.
The Minister of Tertiary Education Research Science and Technology Dr Alfred Madigele officially opened the Centre for Material Science on Thursday 13th July 2017. In his remarks prior to the official opening the Minister emphasizes that BITRI has taken its mandate seriously by kick starting initiatives to address some of the burning issues facing this country. He said the fact that in just under 4 years since BITRI was established it has achieved so much is a sign of sheer determination, dedication and hard work that as a country we can boast of a research laboratory of this stature in such a short space of time.
“What is more impressive is that the CMS was a brainchild of our very own Batswana Scientists who started from scratch by demarcating what used to be office space, identified equipment to be installed and installed all the gases that needed to be in place to make the CMS functional. I am also fully aware that BITRI has used the facility productively as I have been told that there are several research products relating to; point of use water filtration/treatment, in vivo or implantable sensors, air filtration material, nano-metals production as well as protective clothing that are at different levels of development or prototyping. BITRI like many research organisations is protective of its research endeavours, (you lose your competitive edge if you disclose details of your research focus) hence today, we will freely talk about the research infrastructure.
I am informed that CMS boast some of the state of art instruments such as a Carl Zeiss High Resolution Electron Microscope, a Kratos X-ray Photoelectron Spectroscopy system and a Walters High Resolution Liquid Chromatography Mass Spectrometer. The Electron Microscope can operate in both scanning and transmission mode to detect objects 75 000 times thinner than the human hair. This is how powerful this instrument at the CMS is. The mass spectrometers at the Centre are of the same calibre as those used by the International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF) to detect drugs used by athletes. One of the X-ray equipment can be used to analyse teeth, bones, and medical implants. On this note I would like to invite you to join me in congratulating BITRI on a job well done”.
The Minister said most of the services that will be availed through the CMS would ordinarily be sourced outside Botswana, often at very high costs because of a lack of such a facility. “The CMS will also assist the country to market itself as it makes strides in research and development. With its state of the art world class facilities, sound expertise and firm commitment to investing in research, BITRI has ambitious goals to become a significant player in the international research arena in materials production and characterisation. BITRI is proud to introduce this unique Centre focused on advancing industry-relevant research, as well as preparing students to thrive in educational, research and industry environments. This Centre embodies many of the things we must do to be as relevant as possible for the country, industry, students, researchers and industries. The Centre will develop materials for a wide range of applications in areas such as mining, defense, health, environment among others. In addition, the Centre will be dedicated to research and human capital advancement where researchers and students will be given the opportunity to train and analyze their sample for research work. CMS is envisaged to be the laboratory of choice that will boost industry. This I hope will also put us in good standing for potential collaborations revenue generation and funding, he said.
For her part the BITRI Board Chairperson Prof. Sesae Mpuchane reiterated the Minister’s words that BITRI staff has to hit the ground running to set up the facilities as there literally was nothing on the ground. She said the objective of today’s event was to open our doors to stakeholders so that they see what there is to offer at BITRI. “We are an institution that closely works with its stakeholders in providing technology solution, therefore, this event is an opportune time to increase awareness about us. We pride ourselves as a people-centred organization that ensures that the needs of the people of Botswana and Africa are met, hence our philosophy: Technology Solutions from You, to Us, for You”.
Present at the occasion were Ambassadors, Captains of industry, Government senior officials and the private sector. Prior to the opening of the CMS the CEO briefed the media on the various projects that BITRI is working on and those that are ready for use.