Africa Future Lies With Africans

| June 27, 2016

Future of the African continent lies with Africans' ability to be self-sustained in products and services as well as in maintaining a steady growth of world class entrepreneurs in science, technology and unnovation.

President Lt Gen. Dr Seretse Khama Ian Khama said this when officiating at the fifth annual Africa Innovation Foundation's (AIF) innovation prize for Africa (IPA) awards and dala dinner in Gaborone on June 23.

President Khama said challenges that Africa faced were unique to the continent, hence their solutions should be home-made relevant to the continent and targeted to local conditions.

He added that Africans had unique opportunity to develop low cost alternative solutions that best addressed challenges in the most sustainable way as compared to sourcing solutions from outside the continent.

"Fortunately we have the natural capital that comes freely through our resources to develop sustainable solutions with societal impact. It is upon this basis that we see your efforts having potential to influence positive change in our society through mind-set change in our approach to addressing local challenges," he said.

Furthermore, he said government had come a long way in ensuring that the country's economy grew steadily.

Again, he noted that as the country celebrated its 50th anniversary of independence in September, employment creation remained central in national strategies, "and hence our pursuit for a knowledge based economy is to ensure we create world class enterprises and exporting quality products and services."

During the 50 years of independence, he said, Botswana had developed strategies with key policies that would go beyond its mineral export dependency and shape the country into a knowledge based economy.

President Khama also indicated that his endorsement for Botswana to host the IPA 2016 had always been with the view that such an event would stimulate creativity, competitiveness and openness among local innovators, while at the same time giving them exposure about the magnitude of Africa centric innovations and inventions that existed.

The AIF's IPA initiative of rewarding innovation, he said, also encouraged local innovators to actively seek new and alternative solutions that could complement government's efforts.

Thus, he said in seeking local solutions that were sustainable, emphasis was being placed on developing unique commercialisation processes for indigenous knowledge system, whilst taking keen interest on intellectual property protection to ensure that grassroots innovations became successful future business opportunities.

"We remain committed to supporting innovators to reach greater heights by facilitating development of a robust National System of Innovation," he said.

President Khama further indicated that through hosting the IPA 2016 awards, government was proud to have joined hands with AIF to showcase innovation in Africa in Gaborone.

Thus, he was hopeful that networks, partnerships, transactions and discussions would continue beyond the event.

To nominees, he said they were all winners, even if they did not win the grand prize, adding the fact that people came from across Africa to witness their innovations and interventions, did not only reflect level of seriousness they attached to them, but also positioned their innovations for consideration by a wide range of possible investors.

In his welcome remarks, Minister of Infrastructure, Science and Technology, Mr Nonofo Molefhi said integrating science, technology and innovation, among other national economic drivers, had the potential to enhance economic growth and diversification.

As such, he said government was steadfastly establishing linkages with national and international organisations that would bring positive changes to the national science, technology and innovation agenda.

"We continuously reach out to establish active partnerships directly through my Ministry, or through the mandated parastatals with the hope of further achieving our long term goals as stipulated in our national Science, Technology and Innovation Policy and implementation plan," he said.

He indicated that one of the key pillars where government sought such partnerships was towards attaining national competitiveness, especially through science, technology and innovation.

"As we open our Science and Technology Park under the Botswana Innovation Hub, we hope to instil a new culture and a true spirit of creativity and excellence among local innovators and inventors," he said.

Botswana Innovation Hub board chairman, Mr Neo Moroka said the IPA was a commendable initiative because it promoted development of innovation in the African continent.

Mr Moroka added that the IPA also afforded innovators a platform to showcase and transform their ideas and innovations into sustainable businesses.

Meanwhile, the event attracted Africa wide national leaders, investors, policy makers, financial sector practitioners, among others, all seeking to associate with Africa's top innovations and inventions.

Source: Botswana Daily News

Category: Human Rights

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