Botswana urged to adapt knowledge economy

Botswana has been urged to reinvent its systems to adapt to the knowledge economy. The knowledge economy, which commonly makes up a large share of all economic activity in developed countries, is described as a system of consumption and production that is based on intellectual capital.

This week, at the ‘Open Data Open Science’ national forum held in Gaborone, principal researcher and country managing partner at Joint Minds Consult (JMC), Patrick Molutsi said knowledge is a key commodity and a defining source of wealth in a knowledge economy and society.

He said less developed economies are characterised by lower levels of utilisation of information to produce knowledge and intellectual property to drive their development.

“Botswana, like many countries in Africa, acknowledges the existence of knowledge as a critical driver of development in the 21st century,” Molutsi said.

However, he added that economies produce massive data that is not transformed into knowledge.

He said in recent times, governments, private sector and universities band around concepts like internationalisation partnerships and collaboration.

“The concepts are part of the 21st century skills. Their application will enhance results and reduce costs in everything we do,” he said. Molutsi further indicated that indeed international best practices show that effective partnerships between industry estimated time pool sharing (ETPS) enhances creativity, productivity and innovation.

He, however, said effective collaboration and partnerships must start at home, as well as at local, regional or provincial and national levels within each country. 

“Botswana and the city of Gaborone in particular, has great potential for effective partnership and collaboration at regional and national levels,” Molutsi said.

With the universities and colleges, research institute and industry base, he said Gaborone should be an effective knowledge hub.

According to Molutsi, currently Botswana has no research council to coordinate and set direction for research and development strategy.

He said many institutions, parastatals, departments and private sector and civil society entities doing research do so independently with little coordination and collaboration.

“In short they operate in an uncoordinated environment,” he said.

Molutsi stated that efforts to coordinate research activity in the country through the Department of Research, Science and Technology (DRST) have not yet achieved much.

Also, he said the 2016 ministerial restructuring moved a step towards coordination by putting most of the institutions under one ministry of Tertiary Education, Research, Science and Technology.

“Botswana is yet to fully tap into the global movement towards realising full benefits of open access,” Molutsi said.

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