In conversation with
Chief Executive Officer |
FDI Spotlight: What is BIH about and what do they do?
Alan Boshwaen: In order to foster technology entrepreneurship and move the innovation agenda forward it is critical to strengthen the capacity for innovation. Through its in-house and partner programmes, BIH offers various training and networking events aimed at building capacity and creating an innovation ecosystem.
The company offers solutions suited to both established institutions and startups. This offering includes networking, research and technical collaboration opportunities locally and internationally, as well as access to a range of technology development, transfer and commercialisation services.
Do you believe that the establishment of Botswana’s first Science and Technology Park can be a catalyst for the true implementation of economic diversification in Botswana, and how are you as BIH contributing to economic diversification?
Alan Boshwaen: The state certainly plays a catalytic role here; however, government likewise need to carry some of the risk associated with developing a project such as ours. When we started with the development of the Botswana Innovation Hub, we took quite a few financial risks. While the system will never be perfect, all stakeholders involved need to understand that we all need to carry the risks associated with what we are trying to do.
We are planning incubation programmes, technology-oriented companies, mining-oriented companies, programmes to develop youth entrepreneurs and facilities to bring the ideas of entrepreneurs and innovators to life.
This is something that is quite new to Botswana: the idea of production and innovation within the ICT sector and the concept of bringing ideas to life. The work BIH has been doing is breaking new ground; Botswana has traditionally been more of a consumer-orientated society.
The BIH’s business model operates on a cost generation model. One example of this is that we rent our office spaces out. We already have some tenants, such as Dimension Data. We are also finalising the establishment of Botswana’s first data centre that is based on a shared model; we have partnered with companies to do this.
From my perspective, what we are doing here is trying to spare the future of Botswana in many fundamental ways by having companies such as Dimension Data housed here, as well as partnering with them. In this way, we can create a hub of activity where we learn from each other.