The National Development Plan (NDP) 11 will have a provision for funding research projects, Kealeboga Ranko, Principal Research Officer in the Department of Research Science and Technology has said.
Ranko was responding to critiques who blamed government for what they said was failure to fund research despite its importance to the economy of the country.
In his submission, Ranko pointed out the fact that there is a draft Research Act (Bill) which has gone through the Attorney General’s Chambers. There also has been a pilot project for training of scientist researchers in the country.
He added that as for the Intellectual Property, there is Companies and Intellectual Property Authority (CIPA) parastatal to take care of that. Science Researchers can register their projects there.
One of the stakeholders, Botilo Tshimologo had bemoaned the fact that while there are funds for other ‘things’ within government there seems to nothing to finance research. This, he said was painful as the government should be sponsoring local students/graduates’ research projects as a capacity building initiative. This he said retarded the student’s efforts to make input in the economy. He wondered whether there was provision for the Intellectual Property issues or whether there was even any Research Act.
The queries were triggered by the discussions on the Research and Filming draft guidelines the Ministry of Environment had drafted and brought before participants during the Filming and Research Pitso to assess critically. The guidelines designated that researchers who came into Botswana, especially in protected areas and other such areas should engage Batswana Researchers.
One of the guidelines emphasized that foreign research assistants may be included at the time of the application of a research permit and should follow the normal application procedures for conducting wildlife research.
But another guideline indicates, “Where the project needs only one research assistant, s/he shall be a citizen of Botswana. The Principal Investigator will identify the research assistant; but where the PI cannot identify a citizen research assistant, the ministry will assist; in that case the position may be advertised through mass media and interviews arranged in conjunction with the ministry responsible for graduate placement and internships.
A Project Manager with Cheetah Conservation Botswana (CCB), Douglas Thamage pointed out the fact that there was need for the government to have budget for research for university students. He reasoned that the issue of ‘Research Assistant’ should not always be the talk of the day.
The Ministry of Environment, Natural Resources Conservation and Tourism did in January 2017 suspend issuing of filming and research permits ,”in order to address concerns regarding the conduct of environmental research, filming and photography in Botswana’s protected and other wilderness areas.”
The Minister responsible, Tshekedi Khama highlighted that “Most worrisome is the tourists and public outcry on cases of gross misconduct where some researchers or filmmakers wilfully engage in unauthorized activities; as well as failure to adhere to proper animal care and welfare protocols.