8 August 2017

Botswana: Body to Advise Govt

Gaborone — The role of the Research, Science, Technology and Innovation (RSTI) advisory committee is to provide guidance and advise to government as it embarks on diversifying the economy.

Speaking at the launch of the committee yesterday, Minister of Tertiary Education, Research, Science and Technology, Dr Alfred Madigele said the advisory body would guide and advise government on global trends on integration, comparative advantage and market demands in setting up a national research, science and technological priorities for efficient use of limited resources.

"This practice assists with ensuring value for investment in research, development and innovation.

Most governments globally have also set up ministries responsible for overall policy and strategy formulation, funding and coordination of research, science, technology and innovation," he said.

He said his ministry has been tasked with the responsibility to transform Botswana from a resource based to a knowledge led economy.

"My ministry embraced this task with aplomb and tenacity because of the opportunity to set the country on a path to catch up with the leading nations of the world on innovation," he said.

The minister said they were committed to the transformation of the science and technology landscape, and that it would be attained through diverse strategies, including partnerships amongst research organisations and universities.

Mr Madigele said there were structures to be used to leverage the capabilities of the RSTI in driving the country's social and economic development such as the Economic Diversification Drive (EDD) policy and strategy.

He said the economy has continued to be less diversified and was driven by primary products of diamonds, copper/nickel and beef, with a high import bill.

The minister said the EDD strategy envisaged the achievement of economic diversification through implementation of the EDD technology development, innovation and transfer thematic area.

"This is expected to make Botswana a vibrant technology driven economy through technological development, adaptation, transfer and innovation.

These are core elements for competitiveness in the globalised economic environment," he said.

Dr Madigele said in addition, through research and development, the EDD strategy initiatives woud inform business decisions based on needs based research studies and reliable economic data.

He said the Human Resource Development Council (HRDC) had set up a committee which sought to develop and create a fully functional national RSTI human resource development system where concept and scope of education, innovation and science were integrated leading to enhanced innovation and entrepreneurship.

The minister said the RSTI sector committee seeks to enhance the relevance and impact of the human resource development programme of activities for strengthening research and innovation in the country.

He said despite the positive developments, the science and technology landscape in Botswana was still fragmented and uncoordinated.

"This is evident from the operations of line ministries, academia and research institutions mandated to carry out research. They could all be doing good work on their own, but we are still to witness a whole of government approach to RSTI," he said.

Dr Madigele said the situation created the risk of duplication of research efforts, inefficiencies that yield no return on investment in research and negligible contribution to economic growth.

He further said priority setting for public investment in STI and the identification of the focus areas had remained largely unattended.

Dr Madigele said the engagement strategies for stakeholders, ranging from the research community, funding agencies, business and civil society to regional and local governments in policy making and implementation had persistently been ineffective. BOPA

Source : BOPA

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