President of KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Professor Sigbritt Karlsson, visited University of Botswana Vice Chancellor Professor David Norris on September 16, 2022 to explore possible areas of collaboration in research, students exchange and other fields.
Professor Karlsson was accompanied by KTH Advisor, Ms Christina Murray, African Project Advisor, Ms Erika Svensson Roussner, Director of Development, Mr Phillip Von Segebaden as well as Embassy of Sweden Policy and Promotion Officer, Ms Cecilia Veloz Roca.
Speaking at the meeting, Professor Norris said UB had done well in terms of human resource capital development for the country found in both the public and private sectors. He said for many years, UB had concentrated more on teaching while other functions were given less attention.
Professor Norris explained that UB was going through transformation propelled by a new strategic direction that focused more on intensifying research that was impactful to society. He added that for many years UB had been largely engaged on basic and applied research with less involvement in the value chain of research development and innovation.
“Collaboration with the best institutions such KTH Royal Institute of Technology and industry is critical in assisting UB to turn prototypes in to finished products,” said Professor Norris.
He also highlighted that the critical arears of research for Botswana were on energy, water management, wastewater management and mining. Furthermore, he said UB was a comprehensive university comprising eight faculties of Engineering and Technology, Science, Health Sciences, Business, Medicine, Humanities and Social Sciences.
The Vice Chancellor said UB was actively revising some programmes and introducing new ones that underpinned the strategy for creating a knowledge-based economy. To that end, Professor Norris said UB was engaged on biodiesel production and intention was to upscale production.
He said the university was setting up centres of excellence to provide a nurturing environment for students to excel especially ICT students. “We want to set up a software development hub and this one area seeks collaboration and cyber security. We also need collaborators with those who are well advanced,” said Professor Norris.
He noted that UB had done a lot of research in biological sciences and chemistry on indigenous plant materials looking at medicinal and antifungal properties. He also said UB was currently working on vaccine development on Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD).
Responding, Professor Karlsson said there were many areas where UB could collaborate with KTH Royal Institute of Technology such as student exchanges, research and staff training. She said KHT Royal Institute of Technology had a long tradition of working with African countries.
She further stated that it was important for KTH engineers to understand their work as part of their education and tap on to other countries challenges and cultures. She noted that Sweden was more developed hence their commitment in assisting African continent.
Professor Karlsson also said other possible areas they could collaborate on included training PhD and other post-graduate students. She said KTH was successful in innovative ideas that were impactful to society.
“Staying relevant is one of the KTH pillars, and we are working on solving climate change crisis and we can only achieve such working together,” said Professor Karlsson.