The formation of Botswana Academy of Science (BAS) is expected to reduce fragmentation and silo approach to research, the minister of Infrastructure, science and Technology, Nonofo Molefhi said on Tuesday during the launch of the Academy at Mokolodi Nature Reserve. Molefhi said the establishment of the academy which will bring scientist together is instead expected to provide a more mission focused approach as espoused in the Botswana National Research science and Technology Plan.
The minister said he was hopeful that BAS will contribute to guiding scientific focus and to impact the lives of people, enhance economy, manage and optimize benefits from environment and resourced. The establishment of BAS follows the re-establishment of the Research, Science and Technology sub sector High Level Consultative Committee which Molefhi said it will specifically give issues related to the sub sector the attention it deserves.
The role of BAS, it is said, is to promote and apply scientific knowledge in the service of society in Botswana. Molefhi said this objective aligns well with the country’s aspiration to be a knowledge economy, hence the need to inspire, promote and recognize excellence in scientific and technical practice by the local scientists. In other countries, it is reported that academies equivalent to BAS are established through an Act of Parliament, but Molefhi said such approach cannot be adopted here due to current focus on establishing requisite structures for coordinating research and technology nationally.
Some of the areas that the minister says BAS is expected to contribute to include National Development Plans (NDPs), long term national visions, districts and urban development plans and other initiatives such as knowledge and citizen economic empowerment. At international level, BAS is expected to contribute to the country’s obligations and participation at bilateral and multilateral cooperation.
According to Molefhi, science issues tend to be complex as trends and developments in science happen at a very fast pace and as such he says the legislative needs to translate the scientific knowledge into political choices. “There is need for dialogue on many scientific fronts-as science can either be a tool or security threat, if not legislated properly,” Molefhi said.
Molefhi explained that the development of strategic framework such as Botswana National Research, Science and Technology Plan (BNRSTP) was meant to close the gap in coordination of efforts for scientific research and development which rendered the investments unproductive. For his, President of the Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf) Professor Daya Reddy said BAS can benchmark on the South African counterpart which was formed in 1996 and has been in existence for almost two decades now. He said the today the organisation has close to 500 scientists.
He urged BAS to put good governance practices in place to ensure smooth running of the academy.