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Botswana ups level of exposure for tech startups

Botswana ups level of exposure for tech startups

Botswana's decision to extend the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Science, Technology and Innovation Week to a full month in August has already seen several events organised in support of innovation, nurturing interest in science and technology, and encouraging investment in research and development across the country.

The Innovation Vendor Day and Exhibition, scheduled for tomorrow at the Botswana Innovation Hub's yet-to-be-completed Science and Technology Park, will offer tech startups an opportunity to showcase their ideas and products.

Organisers who will also provide guided tours of the park for potential tenants and those in the market for land to develop. "We will have government officials there, we'll also have the private sector who have an interest in what is coming out in terms of technology, science and innovation by our local entrepreneurs," said Tigele Mokobi, marketing and communications manager at Botswana Innovation Hub.

Mokobi has called on stakeholders, including local and international companies, research and advanced training institutions operating within ICT, to become members of BIH.

He told ITWeb Africa that membership would allow access to the Innovation Fund, a concessionary 15% corporate tax rate for qualifying companies, access to the Technology Entrepreneurship Development Programme, as well as opportunities for networking, research and technical collaboration locally and internationall.

"The Park is an ideal location for technology-driven and knowledge-intensive businesses to establish themselves, develop and compete in the region and global markets."

He added that fast broadband wireless internet access, cloud solutions, and data centres would be included for tenants and that fibre reticulation that will enable last mile connectivity has been completed throughout the 57 hectare site.

"Tangible pre-letting prospects currently stand at 68% of the lettable space in the Icon building whose construction commenced in August 2014 and is scheduled to be completed in July 2016. They include Oracle Botswana, Microsoft and Dimension Data amongst others."

While efforts to get more tenants will be intensified during innovation vendor day, Mokobi says most of the focus will be on promoting technology-based innovation by entrepreneurs. This years theme, he said, is "Research, Science, Technology and Innovation: the solution to current socio-economic challenges." Panel discussions and pitch sessions will also form part of the day's programme.

"Startups that will showcase are those that are registered with us, those that are within our First Steps Venture Centre programme, but it's open to the public and if anyone wants to come and see what products are available, they may do so."

Mokobi also revealed that BIH has now been accorded full membership of the International Association of Science Parks and Areas of Innovation (IASP) in recognition of progress made thus far in implementation of its innovation agenda.

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