BIH steps up activities

By John Churu, Gaborone, Botswana

The Botswana Innovation Hub (BIH) says it is working to improve on what was done in the past in order to get the organisation back on track to meet its mandate. 

Speaking during a wide ranging interview with Biztechafrica, the Hub’s project officer, Dr. Budzanani Tacheba, said since the BIH had engaged its new CEO, the organisation was now “garnering and setting back on track and putting a lot of processes, as it was no longer just a project but was operating as a company which was registered as such in Botswana.”

“We are working to improve what we have done in the past, not that there is anything wrong with how we did things, but because there is a need to accelerate the speed at which we registered companies,” Tacheba told Biztechafrica. 

He said they also expected engaged companies to deliver on the mandate of the organisation. “We are now in a better position to chart the way forward with the guidance of the new board of directors which was inaugurated in December 2011.”

The BIH has received interest from more than 100 companies in its ICT hub but currently only 10 were registered. Accordingly, the organisation is working on its infrastructural development at its new ultra-modern premises. “As of now, the proposed site for the new BIH home has seen roads, power, facilities and water installation completed, as well as the building of a substation.”

The Botswana innovation Hub was initially a hundred percent government entity, but according to Dr. Tacheba, the institution has a number of programmes which are being funded by foreign donors, including the Southern Africa Support programme which is being funded by the Finnish Foreign Affairs Ministry. Similar programmes are also taking shape in other countries such as Mozambique, Namibia, and Zambia.

Dr Tacheba added that at BIH they have in place administrative structures to ensure ease of communication of their offers to relevant local and international companies and organisations wishing to be accredited to BIH or seeking different levels of partnerships.

“This is captured in our registration guidelines and Expression of interest documents which are constantly reviewed to keep in line with our requirements that a new entity is mandated to operate a first of its kind Science and Technology Park in Botswana.”

However, he mentioned that to counter the envisaged challenges, the BIH is going to steer clear of future pitfalls by benchmarking itself against regional partners as well as international organisations. He notes: "We are currently a member organisation to the regional association of science and technology parks and business incubators; BIH was recently registered as a member of the International Association of Science Parks.”

A ground breaking ceremony of the new premises and headquarters is expected in December 2012. 

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