Eunice Ntobedzi a lecturer in the Teacher Training Department at Francistown College of Technical and Vocational Education (FCTVE) will go down into history books as the first Motswana to be shortlisted as a semifinalist for the Global Innovation Award.
This competition is part of the Global Innovation through Science and Technology (GIST.) The GIST competition is a United States (US) Department initiative which is held annually in science and technology to encourage innovation. It is implemented by the American Association for Advancement of Science (AAAS).
Ntobedzi is one of the 76 participants who were chosen from a total of 792 applications worldwide in the GIST Competition this year.
In this competition, aspiring innovators submit their ideas and start-ups online in an application consisting of an executive summary and promotional video. Their applications are then reviewed by experts and voted on by the global voting public in order to determine the finalists.
Speaking to the Sunday Standard in an interview last week about her project, the clearly elated Ntobedzi said that she entered the competitions in March 2015 and came up with a project she named “EmPowered”. She explained that her idea is based on the need for electricity, to develop a Mobile Enabled solution which works with other available technologies. She further said her idea is in response to the need to increase diversity of the current energy supply and specifically to take advantage of the huge potential Botswana has for renewable Solar PV technology.
“This project will include a mobile payments platform pay-as-you-go to enable users to pay for equipment over an agreed time period, security functions; tracking ability to secure the physical asset ÔÇô solar panels and enable or disable equipment remotely,” she added.
She said that the reason why her idea focuses on energy is because energy is a cornerstone for maintaining Botswana’s economic growth. She also said that her recognition by the panel of international judges is a clear endorsement of the innovation.
Asked why she joined this competition, she said that she feels it is high time that women participate in science and technology innovation.
“As a woman I felt the need for us as women in Botswana to participate in science and technology innovations hence my participation in this competition. Botswana has immense potential in benefiting from solar energy more so that our country is currently facing electricity challenges,” she said.
Ntobedzi added that her idea, was first “peer tested” at a hook up dinner innovation event organised by RLabs Botswana which was hosted in Francistown.
“Banks and Mobile companies have shown great interest and offered to partner with the developers. Currently an international partnership has been established to help integrate the service with energy technologies,” she told the Sunday Standard.
She further added that the finalists in the competition will have the opportunity to pitch their projects at the coming Global Entrepreneurship Summit which will be held in July 2015 in Kenya. The event will be attended by the US President, Barack Obama.
“The next stage of the competition is the global public voting phase during which we need to get as many people as possible around the globe to vote for the innovation. My appeal is for many people to vote for me so that I make it to the finals. The voting started on 11th May 2015 and ends on the 11th of June 2015. This process requires registration and verification via email so it is important for one to read the voting instructions. There are two things the public are expected to vote for, first is the innovation and second to nominate Botswana to host the Global Innovation Summit in 2016,” she said in conclusion.
She encouraged people to vote for her at the following link, http://bit.ly/1IBUOdK.
The GIST programs were first launched at the 2011 conference on Economic Development through Science and Technology Innovation in Rabat, Morocco. The GIST initiative currently builds capacity in 86 countries to translate innovative technology ideas into new products and companies.