Botswana government is working on plans aimed at styling the country along the lines of Dublin by establishing it as a regional “Innovation hub” at a time when it is struggling to find its feet in the cut-throat global market economy, Minister for Communication, Science and Technology, Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi has said.
The hub, whose technical details are still to be produced, might be modeled along the lines of Dublin, Brighton, Silicon Valley or South Wales which attract low tax subsidies, universities and corporate partnership ÔÇö as part of the measures aimed at luring industrial development.
“This is a business support initiative whose aim is to encourage and support the start-up of innovative and high growth-technology based businesses,” Vension-Moitoi said, at the just ended International Association of Science and Technology for Development (IASTED) Conference held at GICC.
The move is one of the bold initiatives which follow the proposed establishment of the ICT hub that has received a lot of support from government and regional telecommunication operators and the local regulator, Botswana Telecommunication’s Authority.
The engaged international experts, Technopolis, a company base in Europe, with offices in France, Holland, United Kingdom, Belgium and Austria, is helping with the development of a sketch plan that will transform the innovation landscape in the African region.
Technopolis is one of the leading companies on issues of innovation system, programme design and management and technology and innovation policyÔÇötargeted for national and international markets, and has been involved in 25 countries around the world since it was founded 10 years ago.
“The intention is to use the Hub as a platform to grow Foreign Direct Investment in high technology businesses such as Information and Communications Technologies, biotechnology, and internationally tradable services, such as call centres and data backup services,” she said.
The move will encourage the University of Botswana and its regional opposite numbers to partnership with the private sector, in a bid to develop cut-edge innovative industrial ideas. That will be key in putting both industry and academia in line with the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals, New Economic Partnership for African Development and Commission for Africa‘s objectives.
“The concept of an Innovation Hub is to have a high concentration of knowledge-based industry within close proximity to one another and to create a conducive environment for networking between various organizations, partnerships between private and public sectors, and collaborative projects between universities and industry,” she added.
That will give multi-international companies looking for low labour cost areas a reason to turn to Botswana and, at the same, time improve government revenue in the form of taxes and skills transfer.
“This will help us a lot since our government is just about to embark on a project to build a second University, geared towards science and technology,” Vension-Moitoi said.
Unless this investment happens, the minister said developing nation, shall continue to be consumers of technology goods from developed countries, thus missing out on the creation of wealth through trade in technology.