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Botswana Establishes SmartBots Lab to Drive Innovation and Digital Transformation

30 November, 2023
Botswana Establishes SmartBots Lab to Drive Innovation and Digital Transformation

Gaborone, Botswana, 30 November 2023 - Botswana is taking significant steps to position itself as a leader in the global digital economy by establishing the SmartBots Lab Centre of Excellence. This move aims to support Botswana's competitiveness and socio-economic development in the era of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR). According to the WIPO Global Innovation Index (2022), Botswana ranks as the fourth most innovative economy in Africa, highlighting its potential for growth and development.

The 4IR necessitates the digital transformation of various sectors, including education, work, and daily life. To facilitate this transformation and ensure inclusive growth, Botswana has developed a 4IR Digital Transformation Strategy called SmartBots. This strategy aims to drive digital transformation across the economy, government, and society, aligning with the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and Botswana's national vision for 2036.

The establishment of the SmartBots Lab within the Botswana Digital Innovation Hub is a collaborative effort supported by UNECA and involving government entities, academia, the private sector, and the entrepreneurial ecosystem. The lab will serve as a platform for generating innovative ideas and fostering the development of disruptive technologies and complementary innovations. To operationalize the SmartBots Lab, UNECA has developed a Governance Framework which outlines the necessary elements for successful utilization. It encompasses people, processes, activities, timeline, venue/space, hardware, and software to ensure the lab's effectiveness. Additionally, the framework emphasizes the governance of ICT systems, including their management, performance, and risk management based on the King III IT Governance Framework.

The SmartBots Lab Governance Framework underlines the importance of collaboration with the entrepreneurial innovation ecosystem, including public, private, and community partnerships. These partnerships will drive the successful implementation of SmartBots' priorities, from ideation and incubation to commercialization.

By implementing the SmartBots Lab, Botswana aims to achieve several key objectives. These include the development of an innovative ecosystem, protection of Botswana's intellectual property, alignment with national priorities and SDGs, and compliance with relevant regulations. The lab will also facilitate the establishment of sustainable digital investments and the creation of Botswana-based digital enterprises, contributing to economic growth and reducing the need for talented youth to seek opportunities abroad.

Botswana envisions the SmartBots Lab as a transformative platform that harnesses digital innovation for sustainable development, empowering individuals, and society. The lab will host entrepreneurs who create innovative products and services aligned with the SDGs, focusing on thematic areas such as mining, Indigenous knowledge, biotech, ICT, and clean tech. The implementation roadmap for the SmartBots Lab spans from 2023 and beyond and will include activities such as socialization, procurement, infrastructure build-out, stakeholder workshops, staffing, marketing, and expansion to all districts.

With the establishment of the SmartBots Lab, Botswana is poised to become a leading hub for frontier technologies and a gateway to Africa's digital transformation. By embracing digital innovation and fostering a culture of entrepreneurship, Botswana aims to drive economic growth, create new opportunities for its citizens, and contribute to the achievement of national and global development goals.

Executive Summary: SmartBots Governance Framework Final Report

For more information, please contact:

Mr. Mactar Seck
Chief of Section - Digital Technology and Innovation Section
Technology, Climate Change & Natural Resource Management Division (TCND)
United Nation Economic Commission for Africa,
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Issued by:
Communications Section
Economic Commission for Africa
PO Box 3001
Addis Ababa

Tel: +251 11 551 5826