But there is a gap in ICT, not
necessarily at government level but individuals too, in utilising new
technology and harnessing it, we can improve productivity to create global
competitive products and services."
In collaboration with local and
international research institutions and technology companies, BIH continues to
harness the ideas and innovation from the public and use this to reinforce the
Boshwaen believes the Science and
Technology Park, currently under construction and scheduled for completion in
the 3rd quarter of 2016, will help attract the right partners and create more
convenience for Botswana to compete both locally and internationally within
"We are pulling all the stops,
trying to make that happen. We have a big project underway to provide us with
the scale of facilities to better realise, our long term vision."
The 24 000 square metre Science and
Technology Park building, located on the 57 hectare plot, is considered an
essential mechanism through which to help position the country firmly on the
global innovation radar.
"There is space for us to be
seen as one of (the) leading countries in Africa, in terms of forward
thinking," said Boshwaen.
Government has already committed to
avail in excess of 800 million pula as seed funding to finance the construction
of basic facilities at the park.
Behind the ongoing construction BIH
has been working hard to make sure the innovation community is visible.
Over the past three years, the hub
has put in place innovation support programmes, forward thinking partnerships,
a cyber city programme to centralise ICT vendors (both local and
international), as well as an ongoing technology incubation programme.
"Innovation is an ecosystem. It
is not just in building components," said Boshwaen citing that behind
scenes skills readiness building is taking place.
BIH has also managed to convince
government to put in place tax incentives for international companies setting
up in Botswana and ensure swift work and residence permits to allow skills from
other parts of the world into the country.
On the other side the hub is working
on harmonising the innovation ecosystem through legislation. BIH is pushing for
data protection laws to drive innovation that will spur new types of
To complement the laws, BIH plans to
design a financial scheme to support growth of entrepreneurs in the innovation
"We are trying to actively
assist more start-ups, fund their business model. Through government we intend
to start an Innovation Fund," Boshwaen said.
The initiatives already in place
strengthens BIH to successfully negotiate start-up challenges which, at one
point, almost threatened the hub's business kick-off model.
"We had to moderate it because
of global financial crisis and look careful at sustainability issues, how we
leverage government investment and payback."
However, Boshwaen remains optimistic
that things are moving in the right direction to create a sustainable
innovation sector that will not only drive competitiveness, but create
employment and help diversify the country's economy.
"We have to upgrade our efforts
this year in terms of awareness building, make people aware of what we are
doing. Rome wasn't built in a day. Stick with it (BIH dream). It's a well
aligned intervention to tap into the passion of young people of this country.
It's an addition to capacity building within our region."
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