The construction of the Botswana Innovation Hub (BIH)’s ‘Cyber City’ is underway, BIH Director Marketing, Registration & ICT, Dr Geoffrey Seleka, has revealed.
Seleka said the project, the first of its kind in Botswana, will house Information and Communications Technology (ICT) companies, ICT academic institutions, ICT government institutions, and ICT research institutions.
He also revealed that BIH has dedicated a portion of its 57 hectare serviced plots to develop a ‘Cyber City’, which will be the first of its kind in Botswana. He added that they will soon be inviting ICT organisations to express interest in the initiative.
“This concept is in line with BIH mandate and Science and Technology Parks strategies across the world, of locating like minds in one common location from government, academia and business community for a purpose of economic growth,” said Seleka.
He has spoken about being proven and tested that by creating a cluster or community of ICT Academic institutions, ICT private companies, and ICT policymakers create an excellent networking opportunity hence will expedite innovation ecosystem in Botswana.
“Academia will be close to private sector in order to find out what skills they require; private sector will be close to academia to collaborate and test new innovative products for commercialization purposes; policy makers will be close to academia and private sector to understand their pains as far as regulations are concerned,” he said.
The BIH ICT guru emphasized that BIH Cyber City proposition is packaged uniquely compared to other developments, and it actually gives a competitive edge over other Science and Technology Parks across Africa.
Seleka added that at BIH they intend to take advantage of some Botswana benefits like good governance and democracy, ICT infrastructure developments like West Africa Cable System (WACS) and East African Submarine System (EASSY), and easy of moving money in and out of Botswana.
He pointed out that BIH level has packaged the offerings they have, such as tax incentives and labour dispensation, for qualifying companies, superior ICT services for the tenants in collaboration with private sector joint ventures, shared well equipped conference centre facilities, e.g. telephone bridges, and video conferencing facilities.
“Cyber city’ is actually targeting to build a knowledge intensive and service oriented society composed of researchers, private sector, and policy makers. Within this ‘Cyber city’ community or society money will trade hands to buy ICT knowledge, ICT services, software, Intellectual property, and possibly hardware hence, economic diversification. By so doing our economy will get diversified since jobs and revenue will be created in a different sector, which will not be diamonds related,” said Seleka.
He observed that in the developed world, like USA and UK, Science and Technology Parks focus mostly on providing location for clusters or communities they will like to create without much focus on capacity development because they have readily available well developed resources academically and professionally. Selaka added that in Africa there is a challenge of readily available resources to drive innovation therefore African Science and Technology Parks models, including BIH, have to consider an aspect of developing innovation capacity in collaboration with its partners.
“DTC relocation is a very impactful economic catalyst and I foresee some of the spill off organisations becoming taking up BIH Membership. We are also intensifying efforts to attract mining organisations into our park under our mining cluster. We could also add value to Diamond Hub by them tapping into our state of the art ICT Infrastructure connectivity,” he stated.
He also spoke about the initiative of government WACS and EASSY, which he said is relevant and critical to BIH since internet connectivity or bandwidth is very critical to innovation. Seleka added that it is now upon private sector, academic institutions, and some government entities to expedite the development of relevant content which can now utilise this infrastructure and contribute to the economic growth of Botswana.
“I’m glad to say that through expression of interests which send out on land, membership, entrepreneurship development, and ICT development partnership we have seen very significant responses,” said Seleka.