The Acting Deputy Vice Chancellor Student Affairs, Professor Happy Siphambe, says the appointment of two University of Botswana academics to the National Transformation Strategy Team by the President, Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi, is a vote of confidence in the University.
The two academics are himself Professor Siphambe and Dean of the Faculty of Science, Professor Julius Atlhopheng, who also serves in the national committee responsible for the roll out of Sustainable Development Goals in Botswana.
Another positive is that the Chairperson of the Team, Mr Moatlhodi Sebabole, is a University of Botswana alumnus. Mr Sebabole, who is now First National Bank of Botswana Chief Economist, is also a member of the University of Botswana Council. Yet again, Professor Nelson Torto, who currently serves as Executive Director of the African Academy of Sciences, is another former UB don in the team.
Consequently, Professor Siphambe describes the appointments as a positive move towards positioning the University of Botswana at the epicenter of Botswana’s development process. Professor Siphambe sees this as a vote of confidence in the University of Botswana especially that the individuals who constitute the team are a highly educated cohort with a wealth academic and research knowledge in various fields.
He observed that while academics invariably conducted researches and studies to inform policy formulations quite often they were seemingly ignored in that the documents they produced ended up gathering dust.
However, Professor Siphambe is quite confident that with this new team, President Masisi has shown keen interest in transformation that well-grounded given the team the assembled constituted people from various backgrounds including young people.
Professor Siphambe holds a PhD in Economics. His wide-raging publications include Economic Development of Botswana: Facets, Policies, Problems and Prospects. As for Professor Atlhopheng, he holds a PhD in environmental sciences. Professor Torto is a Professor of Analytical Chemistry while Mr Sebabole holds several degrees from the University of Botswana and the University of Essex in the UK and is currently doing his PhD.
Other members of the National Transformation Strategy Team are: Permanent Secretary to the President, Mr Carter Morupisi, Mr Ellias Magosi, Ms Lorato Boakgomo- Ntakhwana, Dr Grace Kgakge Tabengwa, Mr Solomon Sekwakwa, Ms Peggy Serame, Ms Goaba Mosienyane, Dr Wilfred Mandlebe, Mr Bame Pule, Mr Mpho Seboni, Mr Vasillis Koulolias and Mr Simon Hirschfield.
Addressing the team recently, President Masisi said the idea to have the team was to help in shaping and driving attainment of the vision 2036 pillars of Sustainable Economic Development, Human and Social Development, Sustainable Environment and Governance Peace and Security. Such will underpin the agenda to help Botswana transition from middle income country to upper middle income.
President Masisi also said the appointment of the team came at an opportune time of the mid-term review of the National Development Plan 11, hence its contribution would be invaluable given their expertise and talents.
Given the members’ expertise in different fields, the team has been mandated to come up with innovative ways of driving the national development agenda.
The team is also responsible for formulation of the National Transformative Strategy, working closely with the Vision 2036 Council to ensure attainment of the country’s vision.
The team’s main focus is, among others, to achieve a diversified economy, an export-led economy as well as an economy that is open to foreign direct investment. The team will work with the National Strategy Office while the Vision 2036 secretariat is responsible for the national transformation strategy.