Makeathon makes first ever solar powered car in Botswana

Smart Green Botswana Makeathon 2019, which was held at the University of Botswana, culminated in the building of not one, but two solar powered cars by students from both the University of Botswana and the Botswana International University of Science and Technology in collaboration with other participants from smaller colleges and schools. A team of German engineers was also on hand to give expert advice to the crafty students.

Smart Green Botswana Makeathon 2019 is a national project where students from different technical fields of science, creativity, engineering and electronics are assembled to develop innovative solutions applicable to the Botswana situation.

Commenting on the theme of this year’s Makeathon; “Propelling Botswana in the Fourth Industrial Revolution”, the Minister of Tertiary Education, Research Science and Technology, Hon. Dr. Douglas Letsholathebe, “Industrial Revolution 4.0 is a reality that cannot be ignored and Botswana like other countries is preparing the ground to participate in this process. This event gives our youth, in particular, students the opportunity to put their learning into practice, to develop solutions that will propel Botswana to leap frog into the Industrial Revolution 4.0.”

He said Botswana was on a journey of becoming the first Sub Saharan African country to bring the electric mobility home and is on a drive to attract investors to manufacture electric cars. “To achieve this, Botswana requires technical, engineering and innovative skills, hence this initiative. Hosting the Makeathon is an initiative intended to nurture the necessary skills and support innovative ideas to help unleash the talent and potential of our youth and engineers in the country.  This Makeathon marks the foundation for the private sector to take up the electric car investment as they are assured of the skills.” 

The Minister said the Makeathon symbolizes evolution of new ways of advancing solutions towards challenges facing economies and aligning to the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR). 

“Smart Green” Makeathon is a concept of the German Engineering Association (VDMA) and delivered under the technical expertise of ITQ (a profound German mechatronics, software and systems engineering company). The event brings together innovative ideas to create effective, practical and sustainable solutions to address national challenges.  The significance of the Makeathon is that it engages young engineers and innovators to apply their basic skills and knowledge to develop solutions to address every day challenges. These efforts influence technological progression which can foster investment facilitation. In turn, it builds national capacity, research and technological transfers, amongst others, through simplified, faster and modernized ways, he added.

He explained the policies of government towards mitigating on the prevailing challenges thus: “Government continues to develop dynamic policies that respond to emerging challenges and our ever evolving needs. As such, Botswana will strive to create a conducive environment that will enable businesses to thrive and promote efficiency in doing business.

Government has committed to allocate 1% of its budget towards Research and Development to promote a knowledge-based economy. Botswana is endowed with competent research institutions in the areas of science and technology, ICT, Agriculture and Food technology amongst others, which will make this a reality.

The Botswana chapter of Makeathon is the second in Africa after the successful Smart Green Tunisia Makeathon in Tunisia, ITQ GmbH will realize together with the VDMA, the Botswana Government Organization SEZA and the University of Botswana, for the first time a Makeathon in Botswana and the second on the African continent. The Makeathon took place within a space of five days, from 17.-21. November 2019 in Gaborone.

During the Makeathon, participants worked on a variety of innovative technical projects in the field of Smart & Green Technologies, Smart & Green Energy and Smart Mobility. In addition, participants also worked with the Bamboo Solar Car Project team to develop a Botswana version of the solar-powered bamboo vehicle. “With the development of the Bamboo Solar Car, the Botswana Government wants to advance its vision concerning Industrie 4.0 and pave the way for a new industrial revolution in their own country,” said a commentary from Smart Green Technologies. 

It was also interesting to see that  the two car projects were headed by female students from the BIUST. 

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