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Lumumba calls on UB to lead Botswana’s economic transformation

Publishing Date : 21 October, 2019

Author : AUBREY LUTE

Kenyan Academic and Pan Africanist, Professor PLO Lumumba has urged the University of Botswana to take the lead in transforming the country‘s economy form middle income, resources based to high income knowledge based, and diversified economic setup.
 

In an interview with Weekendpost this week Professor Lumumba noted that universities and academic institutions play a major role in developed economies.  The renowned academic says as the world embraces technological advancement birthed by the 4th Industrial Revolution universities must change too, at a pace unfamiliar to higher education. “The University of Botswana as the highest institution of learning in the land   should assume its rightful role in driving innovation and catalyzing economic development through cutting edge research and solutions driven dialogue on macroeconomic issues,” he said.


According to Lumumba, it is the University of Botswana that should answer the “how part” in each and every question in the nation’s ambitions. “The country cannot be guessing on which way to go and what measures to put in place while it has a fully fleshed and well built academic institution that has a vibrant academia, and hungry young men and women in its student.”


Professor Lumumba noted that UB should engage in rigorous research to deliver the path way and direction on which the country shall take in the new era of tech based economies and actually produce the right human resources for the transformational advancement. “The human resources development buck stops with UB as the country‘s premier institution, is it producing graduates that are relevant and required by the industry, are the programs offers globally competitive to feed  requirements of  foreign direct investment, those are the question University of Botswana should answer and actually set the pace so all other institutions follow,” he said.


The Kenyan Pan Africanist further urged the University of Botswana to foster entrepreneurship amongst its students and graduates .According to the World Economic Forum as the pace of discovery accelerates and global competition intensifies, universities are embracing entrepreneurship as part of the academic experience, creating cultures where innovative thinking is inspired and nurtured. As of 2017, more than 200 colleges and universities have launched centers dedicated for innovation or entrepreneurship as members of the Global Consortium of Entrepreneurship Centers.


“It seems that no matter what field they study, students come to college seeking to make a difference in society through startups, social entrepreneurship, and other ventures of their own creation. We see the same kind of energy and excitement in young faculty, too, who now expect to develop new technologies or engage in startups as part of their academic career,” suggests the World Economic Forum. Professor Lumumba says as economic challenges require new discoveries and inventions the intersections of diverse disciplines, developing a culture of entrepreneurship is one of the most powerful ways that universities act as economic accelerators.


Quizzed on whether Botswana can archive some of the ambitions outlined by political parties in the build up to elections, Professor Lumumba says it is very much possible for Botswana to develop a vibrant hemp industry. “Botswana can produce electric car  as well , or better yet leverage on its abundant solar energy and produce a solar charged cars,  that is innovation and invention Africans can do it, matter of fact Rwanda this week launched Africa’s first  made cell phone, Botswana can do it as well,” he said,


ON SOLAR ENERGY

The Kenyan constitutional law gaffer reiterated Botswana potential in being one of Africa’ model industrial hub when it comes to solar energy. He said while Botswana, Namibia and other African countries with abundant sunlight are crying and complaining of too much heat other countries admire the natural resources. “Botswana could develop a multimillion dollar industry out of solar energy, massive industrialization in terms of manufacturing solar charging chips , assembling of power storing batteries , endless opportunities  and huge potential in creating jobs for young people,”  he said.


According to Lumumba, Botswana could easily achieve 100 percent domestic electrification, export power to other countries  at the same time going green and  reducing the environmental negative impacts that comes with coal based power generation.  “A vibrant solar power sector can fuel other sectors of the economy; you could easy power your commercial ambitions in the Agricultural sector and actually  produce food for yourself as a country and reduce the import bill,” he said.


Borrowing from the success of Israel in the areas of innovations particularly in the Agricultural sector Lumumba returned the conversation back to University of Botswana saying the institution must lead Research & Development (R & D). “Israel‘s R & D was spearheaded by academic institutions and the entire country is now enjoying a vibrant modern technology farming and a booming domestic food production industry.

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