Dikagiso Mokotedi Says Goodbye, Godspeed
By: Tigele Mokobi
Former Permanent Secretary in the erstwhile Ministry of Infrastructure Science and Technology (MIST) Dikagiso Mokotedi
Former Permanent Secretary in the erstwhile Ministry of Infrastructure Science and Technology (MIST), Dikagiso Mokotedi first came into contact with the concept note for the establishment of Botswana Innovation Hub while he worked for the state company responsible for advising government on privatization strategies as well as implementation of privatization, the Public Enterprises Evaluation and Privatisation Agency (PEEPA) in 2009. His first thoughts of the proposed establishment of the country’s first Science and Technology Park was delight, admiration and pride at the forward thinking, game changing ideas that were being put forward to propel the country to the next level of economic development.
A registered Architect with a Bachelor of Arts with Honors in Architecture from Birmingham Polytechnic (UK) and a Post Graduate Diploma in Architecture from the University of Central England, Mokotedi was also awestruck by the designs of the iconic central buildings of the Botswana Innovation Hub Science and Technology Park. Designed by New York based SHoP Architects, the design concept for the central building is framed around two distinct geographic and topographic features that are culturally and environmentally significant to Botswana, the dunes and the delta.
The embodied form and inherent characteristics of the dune and the delta were significant drivers for the design of the world class, iconic masterpiece of architecture. “The dune inspired the hardscape patterns of the roof, while the oases of the delta inspired moments of relief in the building and the relationship between the dune and the delta inspired the barred form of the building, weaving together the hardscape and moments of relief to create central oases within the Science and Technology Park,” says partner at SHoP Architects, William Sharples.
The state-of-the-art designs won the prestigious 2013 Autodesk Design Awards which are the epitome global design competition for architects, engineers and digital artists.
As fate would have it, Mokotedi would come into direct contact with Botswana Innovation Hub when he was appointed Director of the Department of Building and Engineering Services in MIST in 2009. He later ascended to Permanent Secretary of MIST in 2012. As director and later head of the ministry responsible for the establishment and oversight of Botswana Innovation Hub, it fell on Mokotedi’s shoulders to deliver the country’s first Science and Technology Park and ensure that it delivered on its crucial mandate – a responsibility he took with passion and determination.
“I have been involved with Botswana Innovation Hub from conception through to construction of the Science and Technology Park and implementation of its projects and programmes and this has been an exciting and fulfilling chapter of my professional life,” says the result oriented and diligent worker who boasts impressive results at the helm of the ministry responsible for overseeing the construction and maintenance of national infrastructure.
The establishment of Botswana Innovation Hub drives a three ponged national strategic goal of economic diversification, job creation and moving the country towards a knowledge-based economy. The company aims to develop advanced science and technology innovation capital and activities in the country by attracting innovators, channeling the requisite support services and conditioning the investment climate. At the center of this work is the attractive world class Science and Technology Park which offers a unique platform for scientific, technological and indigenous knowledge-based innovation.
Mokotedi views his role as government’s custodian of the Botswana Innovation Hub Science and Technology Park as the architect of the country’s knowledge-based economy. It was therefore with mixed emotions of pride in the achievements made so far and detachment, loneliness and grief of the empty nest syndrome when Mokotedi called on Botswana Innovation Hub management and staff to bid them farewell following the re-organisation and re-designation of government ministries and portfolio responsibilities that has resulted in the dissolution of MIST.
Under the new arrangement, Botswana Innovation Hub has been relocated to a new Ministry of Tertiary Education, Research, Science and Technology led by Dr Alfred Madigele and assisted by Fidelis Molao. Mokotedi and the former Minister of MIST, Nonofo Molefhi have been moved to the new Ministry of Infrastructure and Housing Development.
In his farewell address, Mokotedi could not hide his disappointment and the withdrawal prangs of the empty nest syndrome. He said while it was hard for him to let go, he was grateful for the opportunity to have contributed to the establishment of Botswana Innovation Hub and accepted that it was perhaps time for others to take over and carry on with the work.
“I am not good with goodbyes but now is the time to thank you all for your hard work and dedication in getting Botswana Innovation Hub to where it is today. You built it from zero to the colossal iconic beauty it is becoming with the exciting and empowering programmes you are running here,” he said. Mokotedi said the journey so far has not been easy but with focus and dedication, a lot has been achieved.
He said that even though he will no longer be directly at the helm of establishment of the Science and Technology Park, it is a project he remains passionate about and pledged that he will always be available to lend a helping hand to Botswana Innovation Hub. For his part, Botswana Innovation Hub CEO Alan Boshwaen thanked Mokotedi for the cordial working relationship the company enjoyed under his stewardship. He said a lot was achieved because of the forward thinking and pragmatic leadership of the Permanent Secretary. He went on to confirm Mokotedi as A Friend of Botswana Innovation Hub for his contribution to the establishment of the Science and Technology Park.