Botswana launches digital skills training for the youth

By John Churu, Gaborone, Botswana

Botswana continues to create spaces for youths in the ICT sector to flourish and find their innovative selves. The latest such initiative is the ambitious Digital Skills Training which is available solely for the youth of Botswana in partnership with the Botswana Innovation Hub (BIH). The launch was witnessed by the President of the Republic of Botswana Mokgweetsi Eric Masisi and other high ranking government officials.   This programme is being implemented by a member of an innovation network, the Dare to Dream Foundation.

“For BIH, ICT is one of the focus sectors underpinning our mandate as it is a key driver in the transformation of Botswana towards a digital economy and the creation of job opportunities. With regard to the digital skills and training programme itself, it is clearly aligned to BIH’s current strategic thrust which aims to implement and scale several initiatives which are to serve as catalysts in our country’s digital transformation,” explained the BIH CEO to delegates.

He said other major BIH initiatives in this regard include; Implementation of a Crowd Sourcing Centre for digitization - which entails the rapid training and up-skilling of unemployed youth on how to digitize content at the same time providing an opportunity to earn income. “BIH has already partnered with the Department of Surveys and Mapping and a member company to digitally capture buildings and other structures on a map, in this case covering parts of the Central District. The intention is to scale the project to other regions and the youth involved will be compensated based on delivered and validated work.”

The BIH CEO, Allan Boshwaen said his organisation was enlisting the top 1000 digital innovators in the country, to be ranked according to their technical capabilities and completed projects.

“The innovators will be given opportunities in the form of challenges from both the public and private sectors to develop new digital services or digital businesses. As an example, has BIH successfully implemented a financial literacy project in conjunction with BIHL using an e-gaming platform. We believe there is an opportunity to leverage this same model in the private or public sector to fast-track the development of online services. Furthermore, we look forward to seeing Government’s implementation of the Open Data Initiative which will avail non-sensitive data sets to innovators, allowing them to use their active imagination in creating disruptive products and services across sectors such agriculture, education, health, and others. This is the true essence of innovation.”

He said he was confident that the BIH will be turned into a vibrant, innovation nerve centre that has a wide reach to knowledge holders in some of the more remote communities; to emerging start-ups with disruptive ideas; to academia where commercializable research outputs are being developed; and to leading business looking to create new business models. We will continue mobilizing funding for innovative and technology driven ventures through the Botswana Innovation Fund and accessing other funding opportunities such as angel investing as well as funding from multilateral institutions and the private sector.

“In the weeks ahead, BIH will seek active engagement with innovators through its annual Innovation Botswana exhibition and conference which showcases local innovations to investors and to the public at large. This year, we will also host the annual Southern African innovation forum which brings together SADC innovators, at the same time.”

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