BITRI supports Climate Smart Agriculture, other innovations

The Botswana Institute for Technology Research and Innovation (BITRI) is proving to be the medicine that the doctor ordered for the Botswana ICT advancement into the future. Towards the end of 2019 and the beginning of 2020 the organisation, which is headquartered at Maranyane House, which translates to Technology House in English, is focused on taming the Fourth Industrial revolution behemoth making ICT the country’s next place of sojourn.

The organisation’s Chief Executive Officer Prof Shedden Masupe, has unveiled a raft of projects that his organisation is working on. Some have so far been attained while some are on the drawing board. Prof Masupe spoke on the Climate Smart Agriculture Lessons Learnt manual which was developed as a result of a partnership of BITRI with the Ministry of Agricultural Development and Food Security and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Botswana. 

The manual, which was developed in conjunction with farmers, aims to realise the use of climate smart technologies to increase productivity and farmers’ resilience. This according to the BITRI boss, “has already borne fruit in the test areas, with more small-scale farmers adopting the manual based on experiences of their contemporaries.” BITRI was said to also be the lead author in the drafting of Botswana Drought Management Strategy, which the final draft of which will be used as the principal strategy to guide the Government of Botswana interventions regarding drought management.

“BITRI is also in the process of attaining accreditation for the CMS facilities with the SADCAS. Currently most of the testing jobs done by the mining, water distribution and built environment enterprises are done in South Africa. So, we are hopeful of benefiting from those transactions once our labs are accredited,” enthused Prof Masupe.

Under the Technologies broad thematic area, the CEO updated the media during his last media engagement, on the Sign Coach application aimed at bridging the gap between the hearing and non-hearing by teaching Botswana sign language in 3 levels from beginner up to advanced level. “The application was developed in partnership with the Botswana Society for the Deaf (BSD) and serves to share information on among others, HIV/AIDS, non-communicable diseases (NCDs), sexually transmitted diseases, drug abuse, circumcision and pregnancy, he said.

The other significant project straight from the BITRI stable,  is the Kwibi, a wildlife mobile application used for online sightings, posting location finder, and recordal of incidents, analysis and reporting for which BITRI and a local company, Fox Croft Pty Ltd, entered into a Computer Software License Agreement for the application earlier in November.

Still, the other projects are the Nthusa Distress Call software suite used by the public to send distress messages to police, emergency, and fire services to request for assistance. For those in the transport business, there is a Fleet Management System that keeps track of a vehicle’s life cycle and produces reports, gate logs, trip calendar, inventory management, and accident and process requests and performs other functions such as car Tracking, Geo-fencing, Speed limit & Ignition Status. For their signature and longtime project the Seding Solar Street light the CEO reported that the installation of the Seding Solar Street light is ongoing, with the lights functioning properly in test sites in Moshupa, Lobatse and Letlhakane. 

To cap the BITRI’s progressive and ambitious innovations, the media brief concluded with a tour of the 3D laboratory led the BITRI Design Engineer, Shorn Molokwane. He explained the advantages 3D has in comparison to the traditional manufacturing process, highlighting, the former’s capacity to enable direct manufacturing of complex geometries with ease, achieving therefore, a high degree of customization. This quality, Molokwane added, makes 3D printing ideally suited for patient-specific medical device applications, as well as combining of multiple parts and producing assemblies as single units. The laboratory currently does 3D printing using plastic, and will in near the future, install equipment that allows for application using metal. When expounding on real-life application and relevance of the technology, Molokwane cited the manufacturing of patient-specific implants such as the printing of mangled bones that conform to the bodies of recipients.

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