The University of Botswana on November 17-21, 2019 had a rare privilege of hosting the second ever “Smart Green Makeathon” to be held in an African country.
Speaking at the official closing ceremony of the “Smart Green Makeathon” and unveiling of a solar powered car at the University of Botswana on November 21, 2019, Vice Chancellor, Professor David Norris, said Botswana was the second African country after Tunisia to host the event.
The week-long event which started on November 17, 2019 brought together some of the brightest and most creative university students for a 36-hour prototyping and design competition. The competition was spearheaded by the Special Economic Zones Authority and the Ministry of Investment, Trade and Industry.
Students came from different fields of technology and engineering. The aim was to build capacity and development of technical skills to ensure the students were ready when electric car investors come to Botswana as announced by President Masisi.
“We are privileged to be the second country in Africa after Tunisia to be hosting the “Smart Green Makeathon”, said Professor Norris. He said the idea to host the event was conceptualised following a trade and development mission to Germany through an invitation of the German government to attract German investors including electric car manufacturers to set up manufacturing plants in Botswana.
The Vice Chancellor said in addition, potential German investors had also expressed the need to develop industry skills and it was through such discussions that the “Smart Green” Makeathon was introduced to Botswana.
“This is a concept that has been developed over the years in some countries to build engineering and innovation skills among university students and graduates,” observed Professor Norris.
He added that by hosting the “Smart Green” Makeathon, the aim was to achieve the two objectives of training students. Firstly, to embrace innovation and creativity as a way of life in the advent of the fourth industrial revolution and secondly, to build capacity and develop technical skills that would be required by the electric mobility industry as it sets investment in Botswana.
“In recognition of our role as a higher institution of learning responsible for education and training, the University of Botswana has taken robust steps to ensure that Botswana is not left behind as the fourth industrial revolution marches on,” said Professor Norris.
Therefore, he explained that the university had set up a Think Tank to lead exploratory discussions on how it could leverage its human resources and infrastructure towards propelling Botswana to be a key participant in the fourth industrial revolution.
In addition, he said the University of Botswana was working towards playing a significant role in the national innovation system by establishing an innovation centre that would incubate staff and students’ research and ideas into products and services. The centre will be open to all those with innovative ideas as well, he said.