Palapye — Former President Dr Festus Mogae has said that Botswana’s Square Kilometre Array (SKA) project, the biggest science project valued at €3 billion (over US$3.54 billion), is expected to unearth opportunities for socio-economic advancement, using digital space innovation.
He was giving a keynote address at the official opening of the 2020 National Science Week and STEM Festival hosted by Botswana International University of Science and Technology (BIUST) in collaboration with Ministry of Tertiary Education, Research, Science and Technology recently.
The week long festival, which ended on Friday, was held under the theme; Digital Gateway to Prosperity for All.
Dr Mogae, who is also Chancellor of BIUST explained that the Radio Astronomy part of the Square Kilometre Array project gave birth to great spin-offs, among them, Wi-Fi.
He said scientists and students would leverage from this benefit, including using it to transform the economy by tapping into radio wave platforms, securing fresh data and expanding it into many other profitable applications.
“It is officially proven that five per cent of the universe is known, therefore, the SKA will enable the investigation of the remaining 95 per cent.
This requires Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) students to excel in ensuring take-over of space technology,” he said.
He called on students, researchers, innovators and partners to tap into the technology by choosing STEM subjects and courses at an early stage in life and derive benefits from the project.
He further said that the National Science Week and STEM Festivals were an expanded partnership including key stakeholders such as government, parastatal organisations, private sector and non-governmental organisations as well as academia, students and pupils, with a view to showcasing their respective utilisation of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
He said this year’s theme; Digital Innovation as a Gate Way to Prosperity for All, was appropriate as it gave impetus to innovative technology as a driver for economic prosperity, through the use of digital platforms to find lasting solutions to human challenges in the post-modern era.
“Digital innovation refers to the advancement of innovation technology, through, among others, computers, cellars, networks, electronic billboards, drones, financial platforms, Wi-Fi and other modern gadgets and techniques,” he said, adding that Botswana needed to be competitive during this era of the 4th Industrial Revolution (4IR) while in the midst of COVID 19.
He said the National Science Week commemoration was informed by the United Nations Agenda 2030 and the African Union Agenda 2036.
He indicated that the initiative flowed from that of the SADC, where the SADC Science and Technology ministers 2008 resolved to commemorate the event once a year.
For his part, the Vice Chancellor of BIUST, Professor Otlogetswe Totolo, said this year’s STEM Festival and National Science Week were being held virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic with speakers from United Kingdom, South Africa, Australia and Botswana.
<i>Source : BOPA</i>