The African continent is besieged by a host of development related issues ranging from globalisation, poor infrastructure, environmental degradation, economic stagnation.
Diminished and lack of infrastructure in Africa has been cited by experts as Africa’s ‘Soft underbelly’ as it continue to hamper economic development. Additionally Africa continues to suffer from low levels of agricultural productivity and is constantly bedeviled by famines.
A large part of the continent’s inability to feed itself and stimulate rural entrepreneurship has been explained by poor infrastructure in the form of transportation, energy, irrigation, and telecommunication.
The Minister of Science and Technology, Johnie Swartz, is certain that research and innovation in particular in the engineering domain should address the economic and social woes the continent is faced with.
“It is imperative that issues that are hampering development are brought to the fore for interrogation, reflection and ultimately seek solutions,” said Swartz.
He added that challenges of under development in Africa largely stem from lack of capacity in various fields of engineering. It is his expectation that engineers start to think outside the box and come up with globally competitive innovative solutions.
Botswana being no exception to this quandary, Swartz has challenged the Botswana Institution of Engineers which boasts of over 1000 experts to champion research, innovation and deliver Botswana out of this predicament.
Swartz was addressing engineers on Thursday last week at the Botswana Institution of Engineers biennial conference. He said government is very much alive to the critical importance of research and development as it relates to economic development.
“BIE is best positioned to champion development related issues to take out the nation out of the predicament of poor infrastructure,” he said.
He urged engineers to advance research and applied sciences by devising homebred solutions for the country’s problems.
“The country is faced with huge challenges of shortages of building materials, water and electricity but our country is endowed with natural resources which are the basic sources of production of essential products,” said Swartz.
He said Botswana has all the natural resources in place and experts are needed to turn this into industrial products for beneficial use by our people. “The discipline of engineering can bring sustained economic growth to Botswana,” he said.
Nonetheless the engineering discipline is faced with a plethora of challenges that include establishing modern engineering training institutions, facilities of engineering training linked to the industry, establishing mechanisms regulating the profession and linking Africa engineering consultancy services to global practices.