BIUST Science Week 2019 starts today

By John Churu, Gaborone, Botswana

The Botswana University of Science and Technology (BIUST) in partnership with the Ministry of Tertiary Education, Research, Science and Technology have embarked on yet another national science week which is on starting the 19th of August to the 22nd of August. The event is taking in the Goodhope Village. The theme for this year’s conference is “Embracing rapid technologies for sustainable development.”

Some of the topics under discussion are those centered on Robotics and others, Teachers’ workshops, topics on climate change and technology transfer and intellectual property. Other topics will focus on STEM and cyber security. The official opening of the event is set between 0900hours and 1100hours on Tuesday 20 August.   

To cap it all the science week will end with an internationally acclaimed movie called “the boy who harnessed the wind,” a Malawian epic. This is the remarkable story about human inventiveness and its power to overcome crippling adversity. The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind can inspire anyone who doubts the power of one individual's ability to change his community and better the lives of those around him, so says an anecdote from the movie clip.   

As at the beginning of the millennium, the centrepiece of the government’s economic diversification strategy has been the development of six innovation hubs. The first of these was established in 2008 to foster the commercialization and diversification of agriculture. The second to be set up was the Botswana Diamond Hub. Until recently, rough diamonds accounted for 70% of Botswana’s exports. After these exports contracted during the global financial crisis of 2008–2009, the government decided to derive greater benefits from its diamond industry by renegotiating agreements with multinational companies like De Beers in 2011 and setting up a Diamond Technology Park in Gaborone in 2009 as a hub for the local cutting and polishing of diamonds, as well as the manufacture of diamond jewellery. By 2012, the government had licensed 16 diamond polishing and cutting companies. 

Information sourced from the government enclave say; “Hubs are also being put in place for innovation and the transport and health sectors. As of 2012, the Botswana Innovation Hub’s governing bodies had approved and registered 17 entities that will operate in the park. 

These include academic institutions like the University of Botswana and companies’ active in such diverse areas as custom design and the manufacture of drilling rigs, specialized mining exploration technologies, diamond jewellery design and manufacturing, as well as ICT applications and software. By 2013, basic services had been installed on the 57-acre plot in Gaborone, such as water mains and electricity, and the site was ready for intensive development.” The infrastructure housing the Innovation Hub is almost complete and ready to roll.  

In addition, an education hub has been approved by the Government Implementation Co-coordinating Office, with the objective of developing quality education and research training to make Botswana a regional centre of excellence and promote economic diversification and sustainable growth. High unemployment (18.4% in 2013) has been linked to the mismatch between skills development and market needs, together with slow private-sector growth. The Botswana Education Hub will be coordinating its activities with those of the other five hubs in agriculture, innovation, transport, diamonds and health.

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