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BW’s solar-powered car on cards

SHARE   |   Wednesday, 30 October 2019   |   By Bakang Tiro
Engineers working on the solar powered car model Engineers working on the solar powered car model

Botswana’s leading engineers have kick-started the process of manufacturing the country’s first solar powered car. The process was kick-started by the former Minister of Investment, Trade and Industry, Bogolo Kenewendo at the University of Botswana (UB) a fortnight ago. 

This will culminate in the unveiling of the five passengers and driver carrying complete manufactured solar powered vehicle from 17th to 21st November at University of Botswana engineering laboratory.

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Dubbed the first ever Smart Green Botswana Maekathon, the experts have been drawn from UB and the Botswana International University of Science and Technology with the support science students from some local tertiary institutions.

Smart Green Botswana Maekathon brings together a mix of passionate designers, creators and developers from different areas to transform their ideas by producing a big unique product. The green smart Maekathon also speaks to the theme of “Propelling Botswana to Industry 4.0”.

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University of Botswana (UB) Vice Chancellor Professor David Norris said the Maekathon was the first ever in Southern Africa and sets Botswana on the path to be a disruptor.

He said the development of the solar powered car in Botswana and done by the locals is clear sign that the creative skills by the young people engaged in project is undeniably amazing.

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“The universities as institutions of higher education should be leveraging the country into the path of fourth industrial revolution. This maekathon has mobilized local students from areas of science and technology to lead the project hence we are moving in right step,”Prof Norris said.

Prof Norris also singled out some of the similar projects that UB is undertaking on solar system by sharing that faculty of engineering is on process of producing  solar powered campus shuttle.

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Engineering and Technology lecturer at Botswana International University of Science and Technology (BIUST), Dr Boy Sigweni, said the Maekathon is giving Botswana a 4IR wave too.

He said for the solar power vehicle to be made locally is to explore the ideas of emerging smart green technology concepts that positions the country to compete against the best in the world.

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“First, we must fully believe in the potential or ability of our people as nation. We went out to benchmark from countries that have set the pace high in relation to the green technologies and we are going to make this solar car dream real. This maekathon is just about two things being to design the tangible solar powered car and to offer solutions in Botswana, “Dr Sigweni said.

Former Minister Kenewendo insisted that one of the least tapped industries in Botswana for a long time is the automotive sector which is the future.

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Kenewendo said the smart green Botswana Maekathon is a joint venture collaboration project between her ministry, ministry of Tertiary education and universities to propel the country for the fourth industrial revolution that envisions technology as the core of doing every business.

According to Kenewendo, the initiative will upscale those engaged in designing the car to gain amongst others the technical skills required by evolving electrically powered mobility industry.

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“The project is to show that our students are capable of delivering this technology focused assignments. The German government has been supportive to us in this journey because it connected us to crucial automotive industry technical experts,” Kenewendo added.

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