MOTE Minister Inspires BIUST to Lead Transformation
Honourable Minister of Tertiary Education, Research, Science and Technology (MOTE) Dr Douglas Letsholathebe paid a courtesy visit to the Botswana International University of Science andTechnology (BIUST) recently and toured the institution facilities in the escort of the University Vice-Chancellor, Professor Otlogetswe Totolo and leadership of the Students Representative Council (SRC).The Minister noted the reasons for his visit was to remind BIUST that it was a key player in the economic transformation as the country advances to a knowledge- based economy and that Batswana held high expectations on the University.
He applauded BIUST for the commendable job it was doing under trying times as the world and the nation grapples with the COVID-19 pandemic. He reckoned BIUST had become synonymous with research and pledged the government’s utmost support to the university“You cannot mention research in this country without mentioning BIUST. We will support BIUST going forward
because research is the only tool which can help us achieve the mandate of the Ministry of Tertiary Education, Research, Science and Technology of transforming this country’s economy from resource- based to a knowledge-based economy,”he said.
The Minister further comprehended many research projects that he said he had noted around BIUST and could be commercialised. He appealed to the private sector to come on board and support BIUST with the commercialisation of the projects“Innovation is innovation when it answers to a problem. I appeal to you SRC president to go and tell your fellow students that I will support you in what you are doing, and I will be coming back. BIUST is where I get help to achieve my goal,” Letsholathebe said
The SRC President Mr Macdonald Molome noted that what makes BIUST an interesting institution is the fact that it encompasses both people that dream and the ones that bring dreams to life“In the field of science, we deal with finding problems and inspiring solutions while in engineering we bring solutions to life. I appreciate the fact that students here are determined to being class scientists, innovators, researchers and technologists,” he said.
Molome said with opportunities given to them, students were leaving the BIUST motto of “driving change”. He was pleased to mention that amongst many projects that continue to roll out of the
institution, BIUST students had designed an app that helps them book for the student’s shuttle and was hopeful that someday it would reach out of the walls of BIUST and improve the lives of
Batswana. He also made mention of an online voting system that students developed to use for the SRC elections. The system is in the trial stage. He hoped after it passes the stage they could present it for use during elections at the national parliament.
“It is encouraging as a BIUST student to be at the forefront of the change we want to see as citizens of this country. I encourage my fellow friends and students to remain consistent on the deliveries, it may seem a little change, and it might not be what we want, but over time we will get there.”The vice-chancellor Professor Totolo said he deliberately led the minister to the chemical engineering lab that houses a paralysis plant, to show him that BIUST was already a step ahead on its quest to leading national transformation. The paralysis research plant produces petroleum and tar. The honourable Minister appreciated problems and challenges that hinder the department from producing at an upper scale.
“At the paralysis plant, we experiment with all kinds of things and out of that research plant we have bio-oil and tar. These are the kinds of products that will immediately benefit Batswana. However, the challenge is that here we produce at a lab scale. All these projects must be up-scaled and commercialised,”he said. He highlighted several projects such as the Department of forensic science’s livestock tracking system, the recently launched BIUST, United Nations Population Fund and AVY ‘Drones for Health’ collaboration. The drones were fabricated by AVY in Netherland and programming was done by BIUST.
He said the many projects done at the institution were a testament to the University community’s capabilities but noted success in up-scaling and commercialisation could be achieved with support from the government and private sector“As BIUST, we want to be a place of academic excellence, commercially attractive and socially relevant, that is our vision, and this is what is driving us daily. We want industries to set up here at BIUST. We want to connect to the communities, to understand their issues and challenges, and come up with immediate solutions,” he said.