Grand Challenges Botswana – A New Programme to Fund Impressive Innovations

PRESS RELEASE

Gaborone, Botswana | Wednesday 24 February 2021

Grand Challenges Botswana – A New Programme to Fund Impressive Innovations

The Botswana Innovation Hub today announced a new funding programme, Grand Challenges Botswana, to support bold and impressive innovations to accelerate progress towards achieving Botswana’s national development priorities and economic transformation.

The Botswana Innovation Hub partners with the Alliance for Accelerating Excellence in Science in Africa (AESA) – an initiative of the African Academy of Sciences, the African Union Development Agency (AUDA-NEPAD) and Global partners – to launch the Grand Challenges Botswana as a unique but collaborative initiative under the Grand Challenges Africa (GC Africa) initiative.

GC Africa is an AESA programme that awards seed and full grants to the continent’s most impressive innovators to promote Africa-led scientific innovations that help countries better achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

“Launching Grand Challenges Botswana today, gives me renewed hope that we are on course towards achieving our national Vision 2036 aspirations. We are looking at a five-year implementation plan in which we target supporting key projects that will scale commercially, locally and regionally, building a portfolio with potential to create jobs,” said Honourable Dr Douglas Letsholathebe, Minister of Tertiary Education, Research, Science and Technology.

“Our partnership with BIH is part of efforts to establish national Grand Challenges programme and catalyse scientific breakthroughs that have potential for high impact, scale, and sustainability and finding local solutions to solve Africa’s pressing challenges,” said Dr Moses Alobo, Grand Challenges Africa Programme Manager.

GC Botswana will provide funding to local innovators to develop and implement bold scientific solutions, beginning with its first challenge launched with a call for submission of concept notes for space applications for Agriculture and Tourism sectors and closing on 11 March 2021. This call is in alignment with Botswana’s national digital transformation initiatives and aims to identify locally developed solutions that demonstrate the use of relevant emerging and Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) related technologies, e.g., Artificial Intelligence and Big Data analytics in geospatial data benefitting the tourism and agriculture sectors.

“Local innovators will be a lynchpin to promoting productivity in a myriad of sectors, effectively ensuring they contribute to national efforts to accelerate economic transformation and achieve our six national development priorities,” said Dr Budzanani Tacheba, Director Innovation and Technology, BIH. Botswana’s 11th National Development Plan outlines the country’s six national priorities, namely: developing diversified sources of economic growth; human capital development; social development; sustainable use of national resources; consolidation of good governance and strengthening of national security; and implementation of an effective monitoring and evaluation system.

“We welcome GC Botswana to the Grand Challenges Family and look forward to working together to advance innovation for health, social and economic impact on our continent and beyond,” said Zoleka Ngcete, the Programme Manager for Grand Challenges South Africa and the SA Medical Research Council. Grand Challenges Botswana is the third in-country programme in Africa after Grand Challenges Ethiopia and South Africa.

Speech by Minister Grand Challenges Botswana Launch Final

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