President Khama’s keynote address at IPA 2016
His Excellency the President Lt. Gen. Dr. Seretse Khama Ian Khama’s keynote address at Innovation prize for Africa 2016
A very good evening to you all! It is indeed a pleasure for me to be with you here this evening to officiate at this Innovation Prize for Africa Awards Gala Dinner. I would, from the outset, like to acknowledge the Africa opportunity to host the Innovation Prize for Africa (IPA) 2016 awards following our bid submission last October.
This is a good gesture which shows your recognition of our efforts towards embracing innovation and creativity as a means to achieving economic growth and competitiveness.
We are very proud and thankful to host the event for recognising and rewarding the top African Innovators, whom you have nominated as deserving candidates for this year’s Prize. This, we hope will stimulate and motivate local innovators and inventors to acknowledge this level of competitiveness.
I thank the Africa Innovation Foundation for its gesture to bring such creativity to be rewarded in our country and our expectation is that it shall set precedence for future nominees from Botswana.
I have read with keen interest the Africa Innovation Foundation’s IPA journey during the last 5 years, seeking excellence and ingenuity in African innovators and inventors.
Your ability to build and drive a brand around mobilising African innovators and entrepreneurs, who deliver market oriented solutions to African challenges and supporting them through your processes is unique and most relevant now than ever for our continent.
I have been informed that tonight’s event attracts Africa wide national leaders, investors, policy makers, financial sector practitioners among others, all seeking to associate themselves with Africa’s top innovations and inventions.
My endorsement to host the event has always been with the view that such an event will stimulate creativity, competitiveness and openness among local innovators, while at the same time giving them exposure about the magnitude of Africa centric innovations and inventions that exist.
As Africans we have a unique opportunity to develop low cost alternative solutions that best address our challenges in the most sustainable way as compared to sourcing solutions from outside the continent.
The challenges that Africa faces are mostly unique to us, and their solutions should be home made and targeted to local conditions. Fortunately we have the natural capital that comes freely through our resources to develop sustainable solutions with societal impact. It is upon this basis that we see your efforts having potential to influence positive change in our society through mind-set change in our approach to addressing local challenges.
I note that over the last two days, the nominees for the awards had the opportunity to establish contacts with many local innovators through different platforms that were arranged, including workshops, boot camps, cultural events holistically termed “the innovator connector network spaces” all of which brought them closer together to share ideas and deliberate on essential elements of success.
This Year Botswana celebrates its 50th Anniversary of Independence. We have come a long way in ensuring this country’s economy grows steadily. Employment creation remains central in our national strategies, and hence our pursuit for a knowledge based economy is to ensure we create world class enterprises and exporting quality products and services.
During these fifty years of independence, Botswana has developed strategies with key policies that will take us beyond our mineral export dependency and shape our country into a knowledge based economy. The IPA initiative, of rewarding innovation, gives encouragement to local innovators to actively seek new and alternative solutions that can complement our efforts.
Let me highlight that through the Ministry of Infrastructure Science and Technology, my Government is now laying its strong future foundations in Science Technology and Innovation through a number of key interventions.
A notable initiative in this regard is the development of our first Science and Technology Park that will facilitate commercialisation of technology based products and services.
Today, as we join the Africa Innovation Foundation, your partners, well-wishers, supporters and the IPA nominees, to celebrate Africa’s creativity, let us remember the challenges that we face as a continent.
This year’s IPA theme “Made in Africa” resonates well with the level of challenges Africa faces such as climate-change, which is a threat for our food security.
I would like to emphasise that the future of Africa, as a continent, lies within our ability to be self-sustained in products and services, as well as in maintaining a steady growth of world class entrepreneurs in the Science Technology and Innovation space.
In seeking local solutions that are sustainable, emphasis is being placed on developing unique commercialisation processes for Indigenous knowledge Systems, while taking keen interest on Intellectual Property protection to ensure that grassroots innovations become successful future business opportunities.
We remain committed to supporting innovators to reach greater heights by facilitating development of a robust National System of Innovation (NSI).
I wish to highlight that, through hosting these awards, we are proud as a country to have joined hands with AIF to showcase innovation in Africa here in Gaborone. We hope the networks, partnerships, transactions, and discussions will continue beyond the two day events.
In conclusion, we should mark the beginning of a new era, in which we embrace knowledge and rewarding of innovation towards national competitiveness.
To all the nominees, you are all winners tonight, even if you do not leave here with a prize. The fact that such a gathering has come to witness your innovations and inventions not only reflects the level of seriousness they attach to them, but it also positions your innovations for consideration by a wide range of possible investors.
I wish you success tonight and beyond. I also hope that you will remain creative in your future endeavours.
Finally, I wish you a pleasant evening and a truly African experience as we reward Africa’s top achievers. PULA! PULA! PULA!
Innovation Foundation, through its Chairman, Ambassador Walter Fust for having afforded us this.