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Botswana to toast innovation at 50th

Botswana to toast innovation at 50th

Botswana has been announced as the host of the 2016 Innovation Prize for Africa (IPA) awards.

Government representatives say this year's IPA prize coincides with Botswana's 50th anniversary celebrations and marks the beginning of a new era which embraces knowledge and rewards innovation for competitiveness.

The country won the rights to host the fifth edition of the annual event after bidding by the government of Botswana through the Ministry of Infrastructure, Science and Technology (MIST) in collaboration with Botswana Innovation Hub (BIH).

The bid also has the endorsement of the country's President Dr Seretse Khama Ian Khama.

Dikagiso B. Mokotedi, Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Infrastructure Science and Technology, said hosting the IPA awards will allow Botswana to showcase the epitome of innovation in Africa.

"The event will allow local innovators, partners, inventors and the general public to appreciate Africa level innovations and their funding framework while instilling and motivating our innovators. The hosting of this momentous event will have an immense impact on building a culture of innovation and re-igniting linkages between public, private and academic organisations. These celebrations shall also mark our 50th anniversary celebrations and the beginning of a new era which embraces knowledge and rewards innovation for competitiveness."

Mokotedi also said that Botswana's nomination and subsequent win of the 2016 hosting rights for the IPA awards did not come as a surprise because they have provided all the necessary foundations to enable innovation to thrive in Botswana.

"Under the current National Science Technology and Innovation Policy of 2012, and its implementation plan there is a specific provision for setting up appropriate administrative structures, research and development funding instruments and strategic projects. Recently government took bold steps to establish new institutions such as Botswana International University of Science and Technology (BIUST), Research Institutes like Botswana Institute for Technology Research and Innovation (BITRI), the University of Botswana's new teaching Hospital all of which are strategic initiatives to promote research, technology transfer and innovation with commercial emphasis and relevance to Botswana."

"Made in Africa"

The 2016 IPA awards will be held under the theme 'Made in Africa' in June. Applications have already been closed for the 2016 leg of the awards and preliminary assessments of entrants by the IPA 2016 selection panel is already underway.

Professor Nelson Torto, CEO of BITRI commented on this year's theme. "I like the theme as it is about us, Africans. Given the fact that we are a resource rich continent, it affords us a competitive advantage. It will encourage us to innovate taking due consideration of our environment and rich heritage."

Professor Torto also called for greater investment in science, technology and innovation by all african countries, along with banks and venture capitalists, because South Africa and Morocco have each won two awards from the four that have been presented over the past four years.

"Given the history relating to the winners, it is obvious to me that the nations that have invested in their STI environment, in particular; policy framework, infrastructure and human resource are the ones that would allow for innovative minds to flourish. The countries that occupy the space between SA and North Africa, have a long way to go. I am glad that through BIH, Botswana has at least provided a playground for innovation," he added.

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