Botswana urged to be ready for the 4th industrial revolution
For Botswana as a country to be in position to embrace the 4th industrial revolution as well as transform the country’s economy through a more digitalised and vibrant business sector, the country should tap into innovation and technological advancement.
This was said by experts during the Botswana Innovation Hub (BIH) coffee session on Friday held under the theme “"Economic Outlook of Innovation in 2019: Where Are The Opportunities?” in the context of Botswana economy and business environment.
Mauritius-based technology specialist Arnaud Meslier - Project Manager for 21st Century Skills Lab at Microsoft Africa – said Botswana as a country which seeks to transform the country’s from agrarian to the knowledge-based economy should invest in the innovative.
He said countries such as Mauritius, Rwanda and Kenya took a bold move to invest in the innovation sector hence being upbeat in the embracement of the 4th industrial revolution which has seen them turning into Africa’s leading bread baskets.
“Digital transformation without any doubt is the way towards the expansion of the business sector, route for diversified economy leading to massive creation of employment. The world is moving towards knowledge-based economy and the catalyst for such move is innovation and technology,” he charged.
Meslier is of the view that Botswana should fully utilise the Botswana Innovation Hub and benchmark with other countries which have done quite well in digitalising the economy through attracting leading technology companies to set up operations in Botswana.
SEZA harnessing innovation
Special Economic Zones Authority (SEZA) has been earmarked as the important segment which should be leading in positioning of the country’s economy into innovated and well diversified one.
Neo Mahube, Director of Investor Facilitation and Relations at SEZA who was also a panelist, said the authority is eager to transform the country’s economy by ensuring that the eight selected special economic zones yield high productivity with innovation implemented.
She said SEZA has selected sectors such as agriculture, infrastructure development and aerospace as one of the areas that will be fully innovated as this will lead to expansion in the export economy as well as growth of productivity in the local market.
Mahube said SEZA is keen on attracting foreign investors that will be able to work with local SMEs to impart technological solutions as a result.
Chief economist at First National Bank Botswana (FNBB) Moatlhodi Sebabole also concurred that innovation is very crucial in diversifying each and every sector of the economy.
He said based on the recent budget speech by Finance Minister Kenneth Matambo the economy is projected to grow slightly, adding that Botswana has done quite well in the sectors such as financial business and banking sector in implementing innovative solutions.
Sebabole has however said there are still gaps in some sectors in terms of technological advancement such as the agriculture which can be important in growing the economy as well.
He said the national budget should going forward not be more expenditure focused but emphasise on the return investment; hence investing on innovation can help in bringing revenue as well instead of incurring costs only.