Botswana: COVID-19 Inspires Innovation

Youth lead the way in preventing COVID-19 spread in Kenya's informal settlements.

Gaborone — Five Batswana have received funding for Botswana Innovation Fund (BIF) Third Call COVID-19 Challenge.

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, nations are seeking solutions to abate the socio-economic impacts resulting from the pandemic.

COVID-19 ushered in opportunities for new innovations. It was against this background that BIF decided to run a competition to fund development of innovative solutions that could address COVID-19 pandemic challenges.

Speaking at an award ceremony for winners in Gaborone on Friday, Botswana Innovation Hub, chief executive officer, Mr Alan Boshwaen, said they were encouraged by the number of innovators seeking support to develop solutions to solve some of the nation's pressing challenges.

"From our experience during the COVID-19 pandemic, the areas that we saw becoming immediately important to Batswana included the need to enhance our e-commerce platforms, the drive towards the digitalisation of education and health services.

This, unsurprisingly, highlighted the need for better ICT infrastructure to manage the increased online traffic as restrictions on movement forced everyone to access these crucial services remotely," he said.

He said a total of 395 applications were received, thus indicating a significant level of interest and efforts to innovate.

Mr Boshwaen stated that proposals were evaluated based on the proposed solutions' unique value proposition, social impact, commercial viability, technical viability and the ability to develop and commercialise the solution.

"Our journey of digital transformation required that Botswana should move swiftly towards digitisation of services for improved efficiencies. We are encouraged to see that the funded digital solutions introduce efficiencies across counselling, healthcare service provision, queue management, social work services through paperless processes hence positioning us well for the 4th Industrial Revolution" he said.

Mr Boshwaen said a vital part of the evaluation was funding innovations that could be delivered to the market within four weeks.

For his part, Assistant Minister of Tertiary Education, Research, Science and Technology, Mr Machana Shamukuni, said it became apparent during the pandemic that sustainability was key for any economy.

He said when countries closed borders, the demand for local products.

He highlighted that there was an increased need for alternative solutions and production of certain products.

"It is time to re-evaluate our food, medicines and services value-chains and the, new normal, as it is termed, presents a great opportunity for us to refine our products and services and find market opportunities," tMr Shamukuni said.

He commended BIH for implementing the BIF instrument and putting out a call for innovative solutions that could address the effects of extreme social distancing and isolation.

Source : BOPA

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