Botswana Techpreneurs Compete for Global Acclaim

Two technology entrepreneurs from Botswana have reached the semi-finals of the annual Global Innovation through Science and Technology (GIST) Tech-I competition.

GIST Tech-I recognises the achievement of global science and technology entrepreneurs from emerging economies.

From Botswana, innovators Moses Mogakolodi Kebalepile and Naledi Magowe have developed applications for the agriculture and health sectors, and have been nominated into the Idea Phase and Startup Phase categories of the competition respectively.

Magowe believes her mAgric USSD-based mobile application can help bolster agriculture’s contribution to the country’s GDP.

She said that though 80% of the country’s 2+ million population and 70% of rural households derive their livelihood from agriculture, there is little in the way of technology development in this critical sector.

“In Botswana, agriculture only contributes 2.5% to the GDP. This is partly due to the lack of access to relevant and timely information, therefore exposing farmers to factors such as harsh weather conditions and pests and diseases, which can destroy their crops and harm their livestock,” Magowe said.

She said government is struggling to disseminate valuable information to remote communities, adding that lack of adequate information contributes to increase in poverty levels, a lower standard of living and high unemployment levels.

“This gap creates a problem for the farmers, thus developing the need for a link between farmers, merchants and government which will enhance the productivity, communication and profitability of agricultural sector.”

With over 100% mobile penetration in Botswana, Magowe states that her project maximises the use of this technology to improve the country’s agricultural sector.

So far, mAgri has obtained strategic partnerships with the country’s mobile network operators Orange Botswana, and Be-mobile, Botswana Innovation Hub (BIH), Ministry of Agriculture, and Botswana Investment and Trade Centre.

Within the first five months of going live, the mAgri app reached over 35,000 users.

Kebalepile’s innovation, dubbed Asthma Grid, is a predictive medical device for diagnosis and prognosis of exacerbated asthma.

“The instrument computes and grades the stages of asthma etiology and severity with the capacity to predict eminent asthma attacks and future attacks,” Kebalepile said.

Kebalepile believes the project nominated in the Idea Phase category has potential to prevent asthma attack by providing real time information and increasing patient awareness at an affordable cost.

According to GIST, the competition this year attracted 1,075 entrants from 104 countries, before a panel of experts trimmed the applicants to 102 semi finalist from 51 countries.

Source: IT Web Africa


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