Botswana should increase investment in scientific knowledge

According to a United Nations report, Botswana has undertaken significant steps to ensure government and citizens are aware of what SDGs are all about. “The government has developed a national Vision (2016- 2036) that is aligned to SDGs. The National Development Plan 11 (2017 – 2023) is also aligned to SDGs. Many sector plans are now beginning to integrate SDGs,” said the report. 

However, pundits in the sector of ICT in the country say there must be some concerted efforts to double investment in the scientific knowledge space. “Botswana needs to invest more in scientific knowledge, says University of Botswana vice chancellor Professor David Norris. He was speaking at the commencement of a two-day ICT symposium in Gaborone recently. Prof Norris said this was critical in capacitating the growth and achievement of sustainable development goals and national development plans. 

Speaking during recent graduation ceremony the Vice Chancellor of BIUST explained that “As BIUST, we work closely with the private sector to meet emerging skills needs of the industry, as well as identify challenges that can be solved through applied research. It is reaffirming to see a private sector player such as Stanbic Bank Botswana support this initiative,” said BIUST Vice Chancellor, Professor Otlogetswe Totolo. BIUST is a national strategic initiative that is intended to serve as one of the key platforms for transforming Botswana’s economy from being resource-based to knowledge-based through skills capacity building in engineering, science and technology.

According to John Mugabe in one of his papers, “To foster STI in Africa, we recommend that African countries must first and foremost develop explicit national innovation policies with clear benchmarks and implementation strategies to address the weaknesses and foster the strength in their national science, technology and innovation in Africa’s regional integration viii innovation systems. 

We also recommend that African countries must increase their spending on STI to at least 3% of their national budgets. Increased investment in science, engineering and entrepreneur skills training to address the challenge of skilled scientific manpower and improvement of R&D and science infrastructure is a must for the African countries to progress in the area of STI. Also recommended, is the idea of establishing funding agencies dedicated to funding both public and private R&D and innovation activities.”

In a separate platform, the same Prof Norris said the unification of digital technology and big data science would play a big role in driving the development trajectory of the country, which would develop a much needed manufacturing base. Stressing the need for repositories and training of knowledge capital, he said they were critical to the advancement of big data science in the country. 

Professor Joseph Muliaro of Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture who was part of the symposium, said the event was essential for building capacities to enable Africa to catch up with the rest of the world.

UB Faculty of Sciences dean, Professor Julius Atlhopheng said research and training were critical to driving innovation.

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