Hon. Minister Nonofo Molefhi Tours Botswana Innovation Hub Projects
The newly appointed Minister of Infrastructure, Science and Technology, Hon. Nonofo Molefhi took a tour of some of the Botswana Innovation Hub’s projects in January to familiarise himself with the projects and appraise progress. Hon. Molefhi’s itinerary included a visit to the Botswana Innovation Hub’s Sustainable Housing Unit in Khudumelapye and a tour of the construction site of the Botswana Innovation Hub’s Icon Building.
The Sustainable Housing Unit offers an alternative housing solution that has the potential to address the housing challenges that exist in the country. The project was set up by Botswana Innovation Hub in partnership with the Ikea Foundation through a Swedish based NGO known as the Relief Housing Unit (RHU). The project explores the feasibility of the Sustainable Housing Unit concept by developing a prototype unit at Khudumelapye and testing its viability through a dedicated Research and Development partnership with local Research and Public institutes.
The Research and Public institutes involved in a monitoring partnership of the project are the Botswana Institute for Technology Research and Innovation (BITRI) which is tasked with monitoring the building material; the University of Botswana Architecture monitors the design aspects; while the Department of Electrical and Building Services monitors structural aspects; and the Ministry of Lands and Housing monitors social and economic aspects of the house.
Project Coordinator, Dr Tiroyaone Tshukudu says, “The Sustainable Housing Unit demonstrates the use of technologies for residential shelter development while taking into account local resources and has the potential for a full scale production in the near future.”
Dr Tshukudu states that the core aspect of Botswana Innovation Hub mandate focuses on technology adoption and diffusion to communities in Botswana. “In this regard Botswana Innovation Hub has entered into this project collaboration with the intent to evaluate its commercial potential,” he says. He goes on to say this aspect will be fully explored with the partners at end of initial 6 months.
CEO, Alan Boshwaen says the potential local market for the Sustainable Housing Unit includes the provision of durable shelters to remote and disadvantaged communities in Botswana who will benefit from the solar lighting, phone charging, and rainwater capture capabilities of the house. “In addition we see a potential market in individuals wishing to set up these more durable shelters at their farms and ploughing fields in preference to corrugated iron shelters that are currently in the market,” he said.
Boshwaen further says, “Because of the units’ rapid deployment features it lends itself to use by international organizations for displaced communities in the event of natural disasters such as floods and droughts or even in times of civil strife and war.”
Dr Tshukudu concludes by stating that the deployment of the Khudumelapye also served as part of the Botswana Innovation Hub’s Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). “Staff members were involved in the initial installation of the unit and also contributed towards the purchase of a new bed, bedding and Christmas groceries for the beneficiary, Mme Mosadiwasetswana Kaboaga of Khudumelapye. This is in line with adherence to our national vision statement of ‘a compassionate, just and caring nation,” he said.