Botswana Infrastructure Science and Technology Ministry permanent secretary Dikagiso Mokotedi has welcomed the decision for Botswana to host the fifth Innovation Prize for Africa (IPA) awards, telling a press conference to announce details of the event on Wednesday that the result endorsed the country’s ongoing transition from a resource-based economy to a knowledge-based one.
The IPA – an initiative of the African Innovation Foundation – aimed to mobilise African innovators and entrepreneurs by providing $150 000 for market-oriented solutions that supported African-led development.
Each nominee would also received a voucher of $5 000 to further develop their innovations.
Noting that Botswana’s policy framework for science, technology and innovation (STI) squarely resonated with the IPA, Mokotedi explained that the government had, in 2005, completed the Botswana National Research Science and Technology Plan, which laid the foundations for an implementing STI strategy.
Government had, more recently, taken steps to establish new institutions, such as the Botswana International University of Science and Technology, research institutes, such as the Botswana Institute for Technology Research and Innovation, and the University of Botswana’s new teaching hospital, all of which were aimed at promoting research, technology transfer and innovation with commercial emphasis and relevance to Botswana.
“Government is also facilitating the creation of synergies among government, academia, the private sector, industry and businesses through the Botswana Innovation Hub – a science and technology park initiative now under way,” Mokotedi told journalists.
He further held that the commercialisation of research and innovation was essential for economic growth, but required funding.
“Researchers burn money to generate knowledge and business burn knowledge to generate money. Therefore, the commercialisation of new innovations is part of our national strategy to drive economic growth and create employment,” he commented.
Within this synopsis of the policy setting for STI, government was, Mokotedi argued, facilitating policies that supported the commercialisation of indigenous knowledge and intellectual property protection to ensure that grassroots innovations were included in the commercialisation drive.
Moreover, the hosting of the IPA awards would allow local innovators, partners, inventors and the general public to appreciate Africa-level innovations and their funding framework, while instilling and motivating innovators, he added.
The IPA awards would be held in Gaborone in June.
Past winners were from South Africa and Morocco.