Eco Hub Breaks Ground with Botswana’s First-of-Its-Kind Recycled Plastic Brick Building

ECO HUB BREAKS GROUND WITH BOTSWANA’S FIRST-OF-ITS-KIND RECYCLED PLASTIC BRICK BUILDING

Eco Hub, a local start-up company supported by the Botswana Innovation Hub (BIH) whose eco-brick project was funded by the Botswana Innovation Fund (BIF), today unveiled the first ever eco-brick structure in the form of a pilot classroom at Lobatse Senior Secondary School. The classroom was officially handed over to Lobatse Senior Secondary School by the Minister of Tertiary Education, Research Science and Technology, Hon. Dr Douglas Letsholathebe.

Eco Hub company is one of the first recipients of the First Call for Proposals of the Botswana Innovation Fund; a funding instrument that competitively awards early stage funding to deserving innovative projects. Eco Hub company is currently incubated in the BIH First Steps Venture Program where they receive an array of services including technical advice, coaching, mentorship, access to markets, access to partner programmes, and many other tailored interventions to help them grow.

Eco Hub company innovatively converts recycled plastic mixed with recycled wood powder and other additives into eco-bricks. The company has innovated both the brick and the mould yielding interlocking flat packs of single leaf type of 50mm and double leaf type of 100mm. The easy-to-assemble, durable, low-cost bricks will be used to build structures ranging from homes, classrooms, community rooms and others.

During the COVID-19 era, classroom shortages have become a major challenge in most schools across Botswana. The pilot classroom at Lobatse Senior Secondary School will alleviate some of the pressure caused by the need for additional classroom space. The eco-friendly classroom is 54 square meters and will accommodate 25 pupils who will maintain a distance of 1 to 1.3 metres from each other. The classroom has a sanitising station, 2 hand washing basins, solar television set and solar lights. The period of the pilot will be 6 months allowing for continued monitoring and assessment of the eco-bricks durability against all weather conditions and occupation usage as well as the structures overall thermal comfort and energy efficiency.

Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Eco Hub, Letsogile Kennedy said, “More often than not, our societal challenges present opportunities for innovation. We have turned the challenge of plastic waste and landfill management into affordable housing, alongside creating a clean and healthier environment. Our vision is to see places such as old Naledi houses transformed into decent housing using our eco-brick, thereby restoring the dignity of our people”.

Buildings using Eco Hub eco-bricks boast the following benefits in comparison to conventional brick and mortar;

  • Affordable: Eco-brick is estimated to be +/- 40 % cheaper than conventional bricks and +/- 25% cheaper then alternative material.
  • Quick and time saving as it can be assembled in 7 days
  • Solar equipped
  • Architectural versatility and expandable
  • Resistant to fire
  • Resistant to termites and pests
  • Resistant to ultraviolent light
  • Little to zero maintenance required with long life of 20-25 years Ecobrick advantages
  • Does not emit harmful gases to the environment
  • It is 100% waterproof

The classroom pilot phase of the Eco Hub project paves way for procurement of the necessary machinery to build a local factory for rapid production at the end of the existing foreign factory agreement.

Commenting on the project, BIH Chief Executive Officer, Alan Boshwaen said, “Government has placed new emphasis on innovation and technology uptake as the new mode of growth for the economy because innovation is a key enabler of the next wave of economic development. This innovative type of building offers an alternative shelter solution that has the potential to significantly improve the lives of people through its rapid deployment, affordability and use of recycled materials and solar energy as added value.”

The Botswana Innovation Fund continues to provide early stage grants to support innovative projects to make them better able to subsequently attract funding through banks, venture capital private equity funds and other funding instruments.

About Botswana Innovation Fund

Background

The Botswana Innovation Fund (BIF) is a Ministry of Tertiary Education, Research, Science and Technology initiative, administered by the Botswana Innovation Hub (BIH) Board through a delegation of Authority agreement. The fund addresses a specific gap in the national innovation ecosystem.

Objectives

The Purpose of the Fund is to:

  1. Promote innovation through technology, product and business development in private sector by providing cash grants to
    1. Companies and organisations registered with the Botswana Innovation Hub; and
    2. Universities and organisations inside or outside the Botswana Innovation Hub, to which the Companies and organisations registered with Botswana Innovation Hub may subcontract part of the research and development work and
  2. Encourage companies and organisations registered with BIH to transfer skills to citizen employees by providing cash grants to be utilised for
    1. Institutional training and /or
    2. approved on the job training

Grant Funding Focus

The BIF issues conditional grants to innovative projects/ solutions with working prototypes to advance them to pre-commercial level, i.e. from technology readiness levels (TRL) 4 to 8. The grants are administered through approved funding criteria with stipulated costs and exclusions as per the guidelines.

For more information or interview opportunities, please contact:

Kemiso Ben

Brand & Communications Manager

Botswana Innovation Hub

Tel: +267 369 6413

Cell: 71321701

Email: kemiso.ben@bih.co.bw

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