The Monitor :: How Motswana computer expert solved Land Management problem
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How Motswana computer expert solved Land Management problem

STARDUST: This is not a Hollywood movie. It is a computer programme created by a Motswana IT expert to solve land management problems in Botswana. Thanks to the software, all landboards and the Ministry of Local Government, get to know who owns how many pieces of land, for what purposes, and where at the click of a button. Moses McGeoff was recently recognised for the innovation. He spoke to The Monitor about how he came up with the software
By Staff Writer Mon 14 Oct 2013, 16:42 pm (GMT +2)
The Monitor :: How Motswana computer expert solved Land Management problem








The Monitor: Why is your innovation written in capital letters?

McGeoff: Because it stands for Standardised Repository and Data Usage Tool - STARDUST. I created the software while working at the Kgatleng Landboard as the IT manager. There was a need to manage the large amounts of data on plots, applications, titles and land rights that existed. It also became possible because the senior management, which I was part of, board secretary, and the board all expressed a serious need for such a tool. When the Ministry of Lands and Housing learned that Kgatleng Landboard had come up with this innovation, it decided to adopt it and make all other landboards use it. So I would say it was the right time for the innovation.

The Monitor: Exactly how much did this innovation cost?

McGeoff: It did not cost much because I was an employee of the landboard. So I was not charging any money for the product. There were also other government employees who later participated in furthering the development of the software. Without them, the innovation would not have been complete.

The Monitor: How did you create the software?

McGeoff: I created it from scratch after doing an extensive analysis of the requirements of the landboard. So this was not copied from anywhere. I spent months working on the requirements and the designs. There is a whole documentation that I wrote that defines the designs and the blueprints.

The Monitor: So you created it on your own?

McGeoff: I created the system on my own after receiving a mandate from the senior management of the landboard. I am also the one who named it STARDUST.  After the design was complete, I circulated it for comments and  approval by senior management, which they did. After that, I put together a small team of government employees which  collaborated in programming the software.

The Monitor: How long did it take you to have a finished product that works without hitches?

McGeoff: It took

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probably half a year to have the first working trial version. Software glitches or bugs are common even on commercial software, but they are catalogued and fixed as and when they are discovered.

The Monitor: How does it work?

McGeoff: It is a web-based tool that anyone with authorised access at any landboard office can access to enter data, retrieve information or run queries on land rights. When it is complete, no one will be able to conceal their land rights, because the system will have that information of any plot in tribal land in Botswana. In other words, the system will tell you who owns what and where. The system has many other functions.

The Monitor:  As the Ministry uses this innovation, what role are you playing currently?

McGeoff: Currently I am working on other projects to transform land management systems in Botswana. I have handed over the system to others to continue maintaining and making improvements.

The Monitor: What other innovations have you introduced in Botswana besides this one?

McGeoff: This is my first innovation that has gone national. The other ones are still at incubation stage.

The Monitor: Are you working on something new?

McGeoff: Yes I am. But it is still at incubation stage.

The Monitor: Is your land management computer programme/software copyrighted and patented?

McGeoff: No its not patented. I created it under the mandate of the employer. So I did not patent or copyright it

The Monitor: Are you hoping to market your innovation to other countries especially in Africa?

McGeoff: No, my focus right now is to make sure that our land management works well in Botswana. 

The Monitor: Do you have an ICT company?

McGeoff: No. I am still have an employment contract with the government.

I would like to acknowledge the cooperation of other colleagues at Kgatleng Landboard and the Ministry of Lands and Housing who cooperated  and participated at the different stages of the project. Without their input, the project would have been difficult to complete.

 

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