Botswana Innovation Hub (BIH) has sent out a call for solutions to address the COVID-19 pandemic challenges.The call made under the 3rd call for Botswana Innovation Fund (BIF) is open for applications from the 18th April to the1st May 2020.
According to the hub, the 3rd proposals is targeting entrepreneurs, applications developers, indigenous knowledge holders, social enterprises, civil society and non-governmental organisations.“The COVID-19 pandemic fight requires us to be flexible and adaptable, the BIF instrument has adapted to the current situation and accommodated funding of innovative solutions in response to the challenges of the pandemic. As a disruption to the norm as we know it, the COVID 19 challenges present opportunities for innovators to innovate for now and the future. These innovations will form part of the positive outcomes of the COVID 19 when we reflect on all our efforts to fight the pandemic,” said BIH Chief Executive Officer, Alan Boshwaen.
He said the call places emphasis on innovative digital solutions, working product prototypes that are ready to scale and address the COVID 19 pandemic and its associated socio-economic effects. Additionally, the solutions will be sustained by IP development and registration, technology transfer and commercialisation. “It is envisaged that private sector entities will have an opportunity to invest or participate in the implementation of the chosen solutions.”
The call will be targeting solutions that include mobile and web-based solutions, data enabled solutions with the ability to analyse and publish information on the go, working protypes of products, processes, value added services, community social interventions, tools and gadgets that may be of high demand during and post the COVID 19 pandemic. BIH says it is expected that the solutions will be aimed at addressing, amongst others, challenges in public health systems, public service delivery, transportation and payments, logistics and value chains and many others.
Some residents of Gaborone are disgruntled at being overlooked or excluded from the social food basket rollout. The food basket is meant to assist those in need, particularly those financially affected by the COVID-19 extreme social distancing regulations.
Government has indicated that the nationwide drive is targeted at the most disadvantaged community members who are without an income and lack basic necessities especially food. A statement from government this week indicated that 3000 households had been identified in Gaborone to receive the food relief baskets. The city has a population of over 200, 000.
Some members of the public have said that there was no class categorisation in the surveillance. Residents of the so-called prime and suburban areas of Block 5, Block 8, Block 9, Block 10 and Phase 2, among others, took to social media to complain that they had not received any visit from social workers.
A disgruntled resident of Block 8, Thomo Moepi said the assumption was that people who live in prime areas are not in need. “They probably went to township areas only. What they fail to understand is that living in semi-urban prime areas does not mean that one is well-off. Many of us are struggling, living from hand to mouth as hustlers. I think government does not understand what the life of a hustler entails. On other days I can fend for myself because I can do this and that to make money but not now in lockdown,” he said.
Moepi runs a car wash and shoe cleaning business.
Many Batswana make a living through the urban informal sector through selling, skill exchange, trade and ‘piece jobs’, on a service or product or payment method, where they make money on a daily basis. With limited movement, many economic opportunities and prospects are depleted. There is no income for large families and beneficiaries.
Many breadwinners and guardians are struggling. Electricity tariffs were hiked by 20 percent prior to the lockdown and any discerning consumer could have noticed the price hikes on several items in shops. All this has increased costs for many.
Tshegofatso Bathai, a hairdresser renting out a shared backhouse, said on most days she can make more than P300 in a day but with social distancing restrictions she could barely scrap a mere P100 and had been forced to dip into her meagre savings to get by and send money home to her ailing parents and unemployed siblings because she is a breadwinner.
She said she had received one or two customers and was able to buy relish, but it was risky. “They are scared of breaking social distancing rules. Some customers are not doing their hair because they are not going anywhere. “Staying home is also expensive, especially when you have little ones. Children want to eat. When they are hungry, they just want food – they don’t care that it is lockdown.”
The Seventh-Day Adventist Church (SDA) has donated the sum of P200, 000.00 to the COVID-19 Relief Fund. The SDA Church in Botswana is administered by Botswana Union Conference and has two regional administrative centres - North Botswana Conference (Francistown) and South Botswana Conference (Mogoditshane).
The Church owns several entities, among them Kanye SDA Hospital, Kanye SDA College of Nursing, Botswana Adventist Medical Services, and Moshupa SDA Clinic. President of the Botswana Union Conference of Seventh-day Adventists Dr. Kenaope Kenaope confirmed to this publication that the church indeed made the donation. In a letter addressed to all church organs and passed to Botswana Guardian, Kenaope announced the donation was made in solidarity with the Government efforts to mitigate against the negative economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
He said that in response to the national call to contribute funds (or in-kind) to the COVID-19 Relief Fund, the Botswana Union Conference (BUC) Executive Committee authorised and contributed the sum of P200, 000.00 (Pula Two Hundred Thousand Only) on behalf of the Seventh-day Adventist Church community, to the fund.
“The said amount was transferred to the Bank of Botswana COVID-19 Relief Fund account on Thursday April 09, 2020”.
Kenaope expressed hope that the contribution is "our social responsibility" as a church to partner with all those who are supporting the Government of Botswana to address the effects of the COVID-19 scourge.
"We encourage our members who are financially able to voluntarily support this government initiative over and above what the SDA Church as an entity has contributed,” he implored. SDA entered Kanye Village in then Bechuanaland Protectorate in 1921 through its medical missionary work and this was followed by its preaching work in 1922/1923. By December 31, 2019, Kenaope said it had a membership of 47, 354 baptised members.
Kenaope encouraged congregants to adhere to the guidelines provided by MoHW and WHO, such as extreme social distancing and washing hands as often as possible with soap and clean water. “Much more, we pray for the frontline medical teams as they do their best to manage the situation and also encourage all of us to unite our efforts to curb the spread of COVID-19,” he said.