BITRI expands its horizons

Portia Nkani
Monday, 14 December 2015
BITRI expands its horizons

Botswana Institute for Technology Research and Innovation (BITRI) has lined up research work for 2015/16 in establishing itself as a high profile research institution. Amongst the research work is the Seding Solar Street Lights which was exhibited at the Gantsi Show in July 2015.

These are solar lights which will replace the usual BPC street lights. Minister of Infrastructure Science and Technology Nonofo Molefhi this Tuesday revealed that “We will collaborate with the mobile operators to provide WIFI cables through Seding street lights; so that those who do not have BTC broadband services in their homes can be able to access WIFI through these street lights.”

The project has since been piloted in the western part of the country, according to the minister. Plans are at an advanced stage to refurbish facilities in Kanye where the former Rural Industries Innovation Centre (RIIC) used to operate with a view to start manufacturing Seding solar street lights during 2016.

Another product of strategic importance which BITRI has started to roll out is the Kalahari Sand building block, which is a mixture of sand and ash and is now ready for general use within the construction industry. BITRI is following up a number of expressions of interest from SMEs interested in business on KSBB. BITRI is currently constructing a KSBB depot in Tsabong where the bricks will be moulded and produced through community based cooperatives that will make use of the Kgalagadi sand in their localities.

Another plant will be set in Palapye to produce these bricks. “Next year (2016) we are hoping to establish at least 26 production units. Initially we will only set up two across the country and will set more depending on the availability of sand. Plans are underway for the supply, installation and commissioning of a blending plant in Palapye,” he revealed. 

Botswana has an abundance of coal resources which many pundits are hopeful are the next diamonds and should be diversified into; therefore converting coal into liquids is also on course at BITRI. Molefhi also revealed that a plant is being worked on. Additionally, the research centre is also working on a field test kit for animals where a farmer can be able to test their animal when he suspects it has, for instance, foot and mouth disease.

Going forward, the minister is hopeful that these efforts will bear fruits and become profitable projects. BITRI continues to expand its collaboration with other international organisations with a view to strengthen its research capacity in various strategic areas of economic importance.

They have signed Memorandum of Understanding for collaboration with South Africa’s Council for Scientific Research (CSR) and the Zimbabwe Industrial Research and Development Council (ZIRDC).

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