The Botswana International University of Science & Technology (BIUST) recently commissioned the first Botswana Satellite Ground Station (BOTSAT-1). The event which was officially commissioned by His Excellency Dr. Mokgweetsi E.K. Masisi attracted captains of industries to witness the historic event in BIUST campus on the 29th November 2022.
When welcoming the congregation, Assistant Minister of Education & Skills Development, Hon. Nnaniki Wilhelminah Makwinja said this a clear testimony that BIUST is achieving its core mandate of a research-intensive University aimed at increasing the number of skilled scientists and engineers: stimulation of research, innovation and technology transfer.
She further said that BIUST is moving in the right direction in its undertaking of cutting- edge research projects which are aimed at solving societal challenges. She said the recently held UNISECO India- Arica Hackathon 2022 held in India from the 22-25 November 2022 is one of the examples of indicators that BIUST strives to drive change and move Botswana to the knowledge-based economy. Minister Makwinja said out of 17 Batswana University students who went to India, five (5) were from BIUST and BIUTS’s Tony Richard won under the agriculture theme as he developed an artificial intelligence-based voice assisted contact centre for assisting farmers with their problems.
She further on urged other ministries to emulate the Ministry of Communications, Knowledge and Technology to work with BIUST and identify and solve challenges in their work environment as BIUST has proven to possess great capability in solving both the industrial and societal challenges.
Hon. Thulagano Segokgo, Minister of Communications, Knowledge, and Technology alluded that the BOTSAT-1 Satellite will assist the Government in embracing technology as an enabler of socio-economic development and will promote digitization across both private and public sectors.
He said the ground station will ensure availability of real-time environmental data that will be used to generate information for expeditious decision-making to enable socio-economic development the next phases are the building of the cleanroom in which for reliability in the harsh environment of outer space. This will be followed by the launching of the satellite in 2023 at one of the well-established international launch pads.
Hon. Segokgo profusely congratulated BIUST and his pledge commitment and support for the BOTSAT-1. He also said even though the project still has to build the cleanroom in which the satellite will be assembled and tested on, he is delighted that the project is on time, and it is led by young Batswana scientists and engineers.
Speaking during this event the President of the Republic of Botswana, His Excellency Dr. Mokgweetsi E.K. Masisi said, “according to the records of the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA), at the end of January 2022, there were over eight thousand satellites circling the earth of which around five thousand are active. The ground station will immediately communicate with other active orbiting satellites before the launch of Botswana’s own satellite in 2023 under the Botsat1 project. This is a project that draws its inspiration from the aspirations of the National vision 2036 and is set to actualize the Reset Agenda from the one that is heavily reliant on resource to the one reliant on knowledge.”
President Masisi said this is an ambitious project that Botswana should be proud of as the country is joining other countries that are already participating in space technology. He further lamented that Botswana will now be among a few African countries that have been able to launch at least one satellite into space.
He emphasised that Botswana cannot afford to miss out on the 4th and 5th Industrial Revolution with the promise it brings with regard to the range of benefits in a range of areas which are critical to our general prosperity and wellbeing. Strengthening the national capacity in Space Science and Technology (SST) accordingly provides the possibility of dealing with many of the nation’s developmental challenges, which will bring considerable economic and societal opportunities and benefits to Botswana.
Giving vote of thanks, the BIUST Vice Chancellor, Professor Otlogetswe Totolo said BIUST pledges to continue assuming its rightful role in driving the national transformation agenda and contributing to the creation of a knowledge-based economy as a premier research intensive university.
He said the University that has been operational for 10 years, is proud to be the one hosting the BOTSAT-1 as this present a perfect opportunity for young researchers and scientists in his university to engage in more research and understanding how this work and how it can benefit Botswana.