The Botswana Innovation Hub (BIH) is an IT institution that houses a wide range of initiatives in technology incubation, education, and scientific research. The institution has a surging growth from the day of its establishment until today. As technology advances in every sector, the image of BIH must enable it to evolve and remain relevant to current development. On an occasion, Alan Boshwaen, the Chief Executive of BIH communicated some signature milestones at BIH.
Boshwaen started by explaining how BIH should improve its strategies so it attracts more partners and become what he calls ‘The location of technological giants, which will enable us to become a better innovation nation’. He also added that BIH would like to make local start-ups to list on the Botswana Stock Exchange.
Regarding the existed gap despite the government support for the hub, Boshwaen said that they still need stakeholders like the private sector. “So far we have managed to seed investors in the form of Angel Investors. We should continue partnerships with private capital, we greatly need private sector feedback outside the government as well. And if that capital can be sourced outside Botswana, that is well within our desired goals as well,” he says.
He stated further that their science and technology park development is another broad area they are looking to enhance. “However, we need to make the environment more optimal. This innovation is not a solely Botswana effort, so we need to go regional and the special economic zones are so important to us as this will also spur growth.”
Boshwaen is aware of the market changing in Botswana. “We need to be bold in taking Botswana out there, we need to transition to the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) if we are to remain relevant in this space.”
He said that people want innovators who can provide the most compelling solutions. He praised the President of the Republic of Botswana for his unwavering support for innovation, and especially for his support for the hub. As he puts it, “The president has put innovation at the centre of the country’s development and he has promised to create an ICT ministry to consolidate his podium promises of moving the ICT envelope a rung up.
“As we speak, the team at the innovation hub is ready and we are looking at putting in one of the critical building blocks which is data. We need to start by thinking about how we get around this massive digitalization that is all around. That is why we are advocating for open data, as long as it isn’t sensitive. We have spurred this innovation from a low area. We have moved the bar to where we are able to hold our own. As far as the growth path of this institution is concerned, I am very happy with what we have achieved so far and the direction that we are driving to.”
As he concluded the conversation, he said that the innovation hub and another parastatal the Special Economic Zones Authority (SEZA) has signed a memorandum of understanding. He described this as a welcome development. “We are in the process of working with international entities and working with SEZA is an element of investment which is a welcome development. With this MoU we are now going to pitch our ambitions much higher, we want to make sure that we work with our other our colleagues like SEZA that will enhance our relevance.”