The Minister of Investment, Trade and Industry, Ms Bogolo Kenewendo, launched Smart Green” Botswana Makeathon 2019 at the University of Botswana on October 15, 2019.
A makeathon concept's basic idea is to mix passionate designers, creators and developers from different fields to provide an environment such as innovation labs where they can transform their ideas into functioning prototypes to eventually create a tangible product for the market.
The theme of the makeathon revolves around Smart Home, Smart Mobility, Green Energy, Autonomous driving, Connected Systems and Smart Farming. The vision is to explore ideas for Smart Green technologies that set new standards in time and cost efficiencies in international markets.
Consequently, Minister Kenewendo explained at the launch that during the Makeathon, slated for November 17-21, 2019, students, among them from the University of Botswana and other tertiary institutions in the technical and engineering disciplines, would build an electric car.
She said dream which was expected to propel Botswana into the 4th industrial revolution, did not come from nowhere but was anchored on several events and foundations that as the ministry had been laying.
Ms Kenewendo said the idea to build an electric car was a commitment made to President Mokgweetsi Masisi after he asked during one of her ministry’s economic review sessions what the ministry was doing to position Botswana in the digital economy and whether they could build an electric car.
“He asked me and my team... can you build a car? And without any hesitation I said yes sir, we mostly certainly can,” said the minister. She added that since then, they had been working tirelessly to find the right partners to help Botswana realise this dream.
“One of the sectors we have decided to focus on in the development of Botswana is the auto sector and what we have been saying as we go around the world is that we are not necessarily asking for a body shop but focusing on the auto parts; on the supply side of the motor industry,” added Ms Kenewendo.
Speaking at the same event, UB Vice Chancellor, Professor David Norris, said the Makeathon 2019 which was a first in southern Africa was a golden opportunity to measure the level of creativity and talent young Batswana possessed. It also presented the motor industry in Botswana with yet another golden opportunity to develop further, he added.
Professor Norris said success in this area only required putting minds together because talent and creativity were certainly available in Botswana hence the dream of a solar powered car was highly possible and would be realised in the end.