Gaborone — A satellite project piloted by Botswana International University of Science and Technology (BIUST) is a giant leap forward in the realisation of Botswana’s ambition to become a technologically driven economy.
President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi said this when delivering the keynote address at the official kick-start of the Botswana Satellite Technology (Sat-1 Project) in Gaborone on December 18.
The project, the first of its kind, would catapult Botswana into joining other countries participating in space technology, the President said.
He said the project reflected the country’s quest to find innovative solutions to the challenges it faced and would place Botswana among a few African countries that have been able to launch at least one satellite into space.
“I am aware that the project which will take three years to complete, will require full commitment and selfless dedication from its promoters. It will be especially demanding, as this is our first-ever practical attempt to build and launch a satellite in space,” Dr Masisi said.
Commending BIUST and sister institutions of higher learning contributing to the project, University of Botswana (UB), Botswana University of Agriculture and Natural Resources (BUAN) and Botswana Institute for Technology, Research and Innovation (BITRI), Dr Masisi said manifold benefits were anticipated.
“The satellite, which will be used for earth observation, will generate data for smart farming and real-time virtual tourism. Furthermore, it will help us predict and forecast harvest time through the use of robotics and automated technology. It will also make it easy for our people to access key facilities, particularly financial support and accurate market outlook and projections using data generated from space,” said the President.
He further said the project would enhance the aspirations of Vision 2036.
“My Government is fully committed to projects that promote Botswana as a digital society and as such we continue to invest in the ICT sector in order to facilitate our transition to a digital economy. Let me therefore underscore that this satellite project is not being kick-started by chance,” Dr Masisi stated.
BIUST chancellor, former president Dr Festus Mogae said he was particularly pleased that the project would interlink the use of modern science and technology to derive economic benefit for the country.
Minister of Tertiary Education, Research, Science and Technology, Dr Douglas Letsholathebe stressed that institutions engaged in higher education, research and innovation played a critical role in the growth of modern economies and augmented job creation.
Another speaker, BIUST council chairman, Mr Balisi Bonyongo said scientists and engineers involved in the project were responsible for designing and building a complete satellite station, including the ground base and orbiting vehicle.
The project would create extra avenues to expose staff to new knowledge, skills and expertise, said Mr Bonyongo.
For his part, BIUST vice chancellor, Professor Otlogetswe Totolo said the institution sought to engage in research relevant and responsive to challenges faced by the country.
Other projects included coal to liquid convertion and producing car fuels as well as tar soap products, he said.
<i>Source : BOPA</i>