Sunday, October 25, 2020

Botswana to host Innovation Prize for Africa

Botswana Innovation Hub (BIH) has announced that Botswana has won the bid to host the fifth annual Innovation Prize for Africa (IPA). IPA is a landmark program of the African Innovation Foundation (AIF), whose objective is to increase the prosperity of Africans by catalysing the innovation spirit in Africa.

Addressing a press conference this week, BIH Alan Boshwaen said that the Ministry of Infrastructure, Science and Technology (MIST) in collaboration with BIH submitted the bid to host the IPA in an effort to build the national innovation ecosystem. He stated that the bid has been endorsed by President Ian Khama, adding that it celebrates IPA’s five year milestone in helping to shape the innovation landscape in Africa. 

“Botswana’s selection as host country for IPA 2016 is seen in its commitment towards building its national innovation ecosystem,” said Boshwaen. He is of the view that commitment has been demonstrated by the Government of Botswana’s (GoB) catalytic role in capitalising on and supporting the knowledge economy through the development of a 57-acre Science Park, dubbed the BIH. He is optimistic that the Iconic building in the BIH park will be launched in September 2016, as Botswana celebrates yet another milestone – 50 years of independence. 

“Hosting IPA 2016 and celebrating African ingenuity in Gaborone will afford Botswana an opportunity to showcase its commitment to putting innovation at the centre of its development strategy,” said Boshwaen.

IPA Director, Pauline Mujawamariya Koebl revealed that to date, IPA has attracted more than 6000 innovators from 50 African countries, making it a truly Pan-African initiative. She stated that this year’s event which will be held under the theme dubbed: “Made in Africa” promises to be ground-breaking, extending beyond the Awards ceremony.

“AIF is offering several avenues of opportunity for local, national and international growth and exposure to Africa’s next cadre of innovators,” she said.

Koebl further pointed out that the event will provide an unprecedented platform for African innovators and innovation enablers to network, share knowledge, explore business opportunities and boost collaboration. 

Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Infrastructure Science and Technology Dikagiso Mokotedi said the objective in hosting these milestone awards is for Botswana to lay a strong foundation in innovation through a number of key interventions including the Botswana Innovation Hub. 

He further added that government of Botswana developed the first science and technology policy in 1998, adding that it was followed by the establishment of the Ministry of Communications Science and Technology in 2003.

“The government is also facilitating creation of synergies among government, academia, private sector, industry and businesses through the Botswana Innovation Hub, a science and technology park initiative now underway,” said Mokotedi.

Mokotedi also said commercialisation of research and innovation is essential for economic growth but requires funding. “Botswana’s nomination and subsequent decision to award the bid to host the IPA awards this year does not come as a surprise because we have provided all the necessary foundations to enable innovation to thrive in Botswana,” he stated. The event will be held in June this year at a date yet to be announced.

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