BIUST launches COVID-19 response products

The Botswana International University of Science and Technology (BIUST) has donated vital COVID-19 response products to the Palapye community to aid in the battle against the novel coronavirus pandemic.

The University and its partners Morupule Coal Mine (MCM) and Local Enterprise Agency (LEA) donated 4,000 units of packaged liquid soap, and 2,000 units of bar soaps  to the Palapye Administration Authority (PAA).

The products are manufactured at the university laboratories and are the inventions of BIUST students and academic staff. Additionally, the university’s Department of Mechanical Engineering team has manufactured hands-free sanitiser dispensers to accompany the products.

The soaps and sanitisers were produced according to the World Health Organisation (WHO) standards and the specifications of the Botswana Bureau of Standards (BOBS).

panel inclusive of Kgosi Masego Olebile, deputy district commissioner, Odiseng Moruti, senior assistant council secretary, Lucky Maoto, and PAA sub-council chairperson, Hon. Khumoyame Lekoko.

The launch and handover event of the essential innovations was held at the university facilities recently under strict adherence to extreme social distancing protocols.

When addressing the gathering, university’s vice chancellor, Professor Otlogetswe Totolo acknowledged their partners’ devoted contribution in response to the ravaging pandemic.

He noted their contributions towards mass productions of the relief products would go a long way in helping mitigate the spread of the deadly scourge.

MCM has contributed BWP100,000.00 towards supporting the production of sanitisers, while LEA provided some equipment to increase the production of the soap products.

The vice chancellor envisioned the university spreading their aid beyond the borders of Palapye to assisting other maligned communities in far-flung areas of the country.

“All these inventions and products are without a doubt going to have a huge impact in Palapye, but BIUST is a national university and I want these products to reach other areas in all corners of the country,” the vice-chancellor said.

LEA chief executive officer, Dr Racious Moatshe acknowledged the innovations by BIUST that he reckoned were potential economic drivers that could prosper with sufficient support.

Moatshe requested departments in the civil service, people in leadership positions of private companies, local businesses and Batswana to favour the products and other locally manufactured products.

“The time has come for us as a nation and people with the responsibility, to make bold decisions to protect our products against those we import as it is the case with our neighbouring countries that favours their products over imports,” he said.

Over and above the products that were launched, BIUST had recently introduced drone sprayers and a dashboard for visualisation of COVID-19 pandemic in Botswana.

The drones have already commenced work to disinfect the air at the densely populated spots around Palapye. They have fumigated at the ever-busy Palapye Primary Hospital and the PAA offices that have become a hotspot due to permits issuance, which attracts masses of people daily.

The disinfectant solution they use to douse the virus is formulated at the university laboratories.

For the visualisation dashboard, BIUST has collaborated with iThemba LABS and University of the Witwatersrand (WITS), in developing the console for Botswana.

The dashboard provides a comprehensive analysis of the coronavirus using maps, diagram, graphs and pie charts. It has been designated as the official COVID-19 dashboard for the Republic of Botswana by the national COVID-19 Taskforce.

Chairperson of PAA sub-council, Lekoko lauded the collaboration of BIUST, MCM, and LEA and their timely products when the world is thrown into an unprecedented COVID-19 crisis. She also applauded other innumerable measures the university had put in place for the community.

Lekoko further encouraged the tripartite partnership to maintain innovating products that would aid local communities in various facets in the future.

The vice chancellor assured that post COVID-19 the university would be very active towards economic diversification through research and innovation.

Amongst projects they endeavoured to pursue are the production of sodium hypochlorite, production of bitumen, production of caustic soda and chlorine and other various waste energy projects.