September 7, 2019
BITRI joined other state-owned enterprises, academic institutions, techpreneurs, primary and secondary school pupils in participating and exhibiting in the 4th National Science Week held from 19 to 23 August. The commemorations, which were part of the Science, Technology and Innovation Month, were held in Goodhope in the Southern District, and was part of a series of events planned across the country to raise awareness, stimulate interest in Science, Technology and Innovation and to provide a platform for showcasing research and innovation products with a view of exposing commercialisation potential to entrepreneurs.
The event was officially opened by the Assistant Minister in the Ministry of Tertiary Education, Research, Science and Technology, Honourable Moiseraele Goya. In his keynote address, Minister Goya said Botswana continues to make inroads in science, technology and innovation, citing fields such as Satellite Communication and Navigation, Space Engineering, Earth Observation, Planetary Science, Astronomy, Astrophysics and Cyber Infrastructure. The Minister also buttressed the need to create similar platforms and other mechanism in order to attract pupils and youth to STEM-related vocations, with the end goal of achieving critical mass in the required technical skills and expertise, and the creation of viable industry to support sustainable socio-economic growth and enhancing the competitive advantage of Botswana. Minister Goya enthused the 4IR has potentials to cut costs for businesses and improve the quality of lives for members of society and implored on stakeholders to harness these potential benefits.
“Bagaetsho, this year’s theme ‘Embracing Rapid Technologies for Sustainable Development’, and the mandate of the Ministry of Tertiary Education, Research, Science and Technology, being to transform the country from resource-based to knowledge-based economy, require new policies and strategies that are aligned to current trends and emerging developmental issues. As we take advantage of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, and the digital transformation, the potential benefits and risks for this new era, are a subject of ongoing discussions, and Botswana is not going to be left behind. The Fourth Industrial Revolution is the current and developing environment,” elaborated Minister Goya.
The BITRI exhibition during the week-long exposition, focused on showcasing the KSBB Technology, CSA Manual, Building Materials Testing Laboratory, Solar Thermal Testing Facilities, and Centre for Material Science, amongst other offerings of relevance to the market that is principally agrarian. In relation to the KSBB blocks and bricks, customers were educated on the product and its benefits such strength, environment-friendliness in both processes of both production and application, aesthetic appeal and durability. BITRI has constructed a KSBB plant in Phitsane Molopo, and with this education, it is hoped that people in the concerned catchment area, which includes Goodhope, would develop a favourable view of the product and use it in construction of the commercial and residential properties. BITRI is also promoted the Climate Smart Agriculture Lessons Learnt manual, which was developed in collaboration with selected farmers in the Borolong area. The project was done in partnership with the Ministry of Agricultural Development and Food Security and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Botswana, with the purpose of determining risk factors to the attainment of food security by smallholder rain-fed arable farmers, with the end goal of developing, in conjunction with farmers, the use of climate smart technologies to increase productivity and farmers’ resilience. The Building Materials Laboratory, CMS and STTF services were also promoted in the market to sensitise prospective customers on how they could utilize the services of these facilities in their scopes of operation and everyday lives.
The event also presented an opportunity to an create awareness of the application of STEM in every life, as well as careers and business opportunities to an organic traffic comprised of pupils from primary and secondary schools in Borolong, and other areas such as Palapye and Molepolole.
Earlier in month during the launch of Science, Technology and Innovation Month on 1st August the Chief Executive Officer of Botswana Institute for Technology and Research Institute (BITRI), Professor Shedden Masupe told participants that science and innovation is the future and that Botswana must move with the times. The Minister of Tertiary Education Research, Science and Technology, Thapelo Olopeng, in his Official Address, had also expressed similar sentiments and highlighted the benefits of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) as well as the challenges.Other activation activities of the STI Week were held in Francistown, Jwaneng, Orapa, Palapye, and Selibe-Phikwe.