The Botswana government said last week that it is pressing ahead with modeling the country into an international innovation hub in a bid to lure in the much need foreign direct investment.
Government ministers told a national stakeholders’ seminar the proposed hub it aimed to repositioning the country as a location for world-class business.
“With this seminar we want to find out how the hub is going to support economic diversification and sustainable growth, how it can support employment creation, promotes innovation and creates knowledge society,” Minister of Communication, Science and Technology, Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi said.
The move is one of the bold initiatives that follow the proposed establishment of the ICT hub that has received a lot of support from government and regional telecommunication operators.
Government has engaged international experts, TechnopolisÔÇöa EuropeÔÇôbased company, with offices in France, Holland, United Kingdom, Belgium and Austria. Technopolis 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 governance of innovation system, programme design and management and technology and innovation policyÔÇötargeted for national and international markets ÔÇö and has been involved in 25 countries around the world.
“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 proposed Hub initially seeks to establish 40-75 businesses in the field of ICT, diamonds and minerals technologies, HIV/AIDS treatment and research, targeted to employ directly 1000 people by 2010.
Finance and Development Planning Minister, Baledzi Gaolathe, stated that the policy of economic determination has been one of the critical policy thrust in Botswana Development planning process.
He said the initiative is in line with the aspiration of the national Vision 2016, which is aimed at making the country competitive, and a knowledge based society.
“It is therefore critical that, as a nation, we promote economic activities that would lead to diversification and improved levels of employment,” he 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 to put both the industry and the academia in line with the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals, NEPAD and Commission for Africa’s objectives of finishing out Africa from poverty.
That will give multi-international companies looking for low cost areas a reason to turn to Botswana and at the same time improve government revenue in the form of taxes and skills transfer.
Most of the multi-national companies choosing to locate some of their operations here will qualify to be accredited to the International Financial Service Centre (IFSC) and will benefit from the 15 percent tax concessions.
Speaking at the same occasion Minerals, Energy and Water Resources Minister, Charles Tebone, stressed the objective of the proposed Innovation Hub saying it is in consonance with both the mandate and the needs of the Botswana government. He said for Batswana to differentiate themselves from other countries, they have to be the best and added that the route to that position is through innovativeness and knowledge leadership.
“Implementation of this Hub will offer potential mines opportunity to work with other companies, research and educational institutions to facilitate long term economic potential,” Tibone said.