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Rural Industries Innovation Centre (RIIC) located at Kanye in the Southern District of Botswana is a subsidiary of the Rural Industries Promotions Company Botswana (RIPCO (B)). It was set up in 1975 but began actual operation in 1977. The funding as at now is 98% from the Government of Botswana and the remainder from donor agencies and the companies commercial operations.
The main mandate of RIIC is to identify, adapt or develop technologies geared to employment creation and use of renewable energy. It also provides training to increase rural productivity. The technologies identified, adapted or developed are in line with the research programmes (see appendix 1) outlined in RIPCO (B)'s Strategic Plan that is reviewed from time to time. Some of the technologies are also in line with the needs identified during the Needs Assessment Survey that is carried out every three years.
The Needs Assessment Survey is intended to assist Rural Industries Innovation Centre in the development of appropriate technologies by providing consumer needs into the technology adaptation or development, and training processes. The Needs Assessment Survey is carried out primarily to:
Project ideas in form of technologies needed to address identified needs are derived from the Needs Assessment Survey Report. These project ideas do not guarantee the existence of a market for the technology. The ideas generated are therefore subjected to further screening and prioritising to ensure that they are within the mandate and capability of RIIC. Technical and market feasibility studies are conducted for those that pass the screening process and are highly prioritised. A feasibility report is prepared for the project idea and discussed by the Research and Development Committee that consists of Management, Sectional and Unit Managers. If the project idea is feasible the technology is either developed or adopted. The option taken depends on the availability and accessibility of the technology on the market.
This paper hence looks at the processes of development and adaptation that RIIC uses to acquire small to medium scale technologies. It also outlines the role of the SMMEs in these processes and how technologies are transferred to them.
Means and ways of acquisition of small-scale technologies
The two methods used by RIIC to acquire small-scale technologies as already stated are development and adaptation. The main role of the SMMEs in these two methods is that of manufacturing for sale by RIIC the technologies that have been developed or adapted. These technologies are of two main uses i.e. for setting up businesses by
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SMMEs to generate income and for use by individuals to increase their productivity. The two methods are discussed below in detail.
1. Technology development
Following the approval of the feasibility study report, product design specifications are compiled. These specifications are meant to address the identified needs and are used to prepare conceptual designs. These designs are solutions that seek to satisfy the requirements as set out in the product design specifications. The different conceptual designs are evaluated and the best one selected. The selected conceptual design is optimised and developed into a detailed design. The outputs of a detail design are detail design drawings that identify material specifications for both bought-in-components and processed components. These technical drawings are then passed on to the Research & Development Workshop for the manufacture of a prototype.
The manufacture of the prototype is using the detail design drawings. Once the prototype has been manufactured, trials are conducted to ensure that it satisfies the product design specifications. This is done prior to subjecting the prototype to any prolonged tests. Once the prototype has passed the trials, test parameters for further testing are drawn up. The test parameters cover the following factors: performance, durability, user acceptance and safety.
The test parameters are used to prepare a test plan. This plan outlines the methodology to be followed during testing in-order to achieve the objectives as set out by the test parameters. The tests are carried out as per the test plan and all the necessary data and information collected. This data and information is analysed and a report prepared. This report specifies whether or not the product has satisfied the test objectives. The report also gives suggestions as to how the product can be modified to improve its performance. The test report is reviewed and approved by a committee consisting of representatives
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from all the affected internal sections. Once the report has been approved a design package is prepared.
The following documents and hardware constituting a design package are prepared for hand-over to the Technology Transfer Unit.
The Technology Transfer Unit co-ordinates the commercial manufacture of all RIIC developed or adapted technologies through subcontracting to local engineering metal SMMEs as outlined in 3.
2. Technology adaptation
This involves the identification of technologies developed elsewhere and the assimilation of these technologies for local use and/or manufacture. Factors considered in assimilating a technology include production scale, output range, environmental factors, raw materials and quality.
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Identification of technologies for adaptation
The identification of technologies for adaptation is based on the research programmes of RIIC and the needs as identified by the Needs Assessment Survey. The identification process involves collecting information on the technologies and identifying the companies manufacturing or promoting these technologies. The methods used to identify technologies for adaptation are as follows:
Technology evaluation and adaptation
Once a technology has been identified, it is evaluated to establish the following:
Once the technology has passed the evaluation, one unit is purchased for testing from the organisation manufacturing or promoting that particular technology. On receipt of the technology test parameters are prepared and the testing is done as outlined above in 1. However its is worth noting that the tests conducted are not only to establish the performance of the technology but also to identify features or parts where necessary that need modifications to suit the available manufacturing processes and production scale, the required output range, raw material mix and quality. The concept followed to assimilate the technology is that of just filling in the gaps and not designing the whole technology from the basic concepts as in 1.
If the technology satisfies the test parameters a design package as outlined in 1 is prepared for hand-over to the Technology Transfer Unit for commercial manufacture through subcontracting to local engineering metal SMMEs as outlined below in 3.
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3. Technology manufacture
The manufacture of technologies developed or adapted by RIIC is done through the Technology Transfer Programme. The programme is run and co-ordinated by the Technology Transfer Unit and involves identifying SMMEs with the potential to manufacture these technologies, evaluating and listing them, and then subcontracting them to manufacture these technologies for promotion and sale by RIIC.
Background of the Technology Transfer Programme
The objective of setting up this programme was to relieve the Research & Development Workshop from the manufacture of the final technologies so that it could concentrate on development work. It was however found that the SMMEs had limited capacity in terms of technical facilities and skills (Miti, 1993). It was hence felt that these SMMEs should be given the necessary technical support through this programme to enable them to manufacture RIIC technologies. These technologies include components and spare parts.
Evaluation of SMMEs
The local SMMEs that are identified as having potential to manufacture RIIC developed or adapted technologies are evaluated before inclusion on a list of approved subcontractors. Since the degree of complexity differs from one technology to another the type of machinery and level of technical skills determines what type of technology the workshop is capable of manufacturing. The following factors are considered during the evaluation of these SMMEs:
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Originally only the first two factors were taken into consideration but later on the other two were added on to address some of the problems which were experienced during the implementation of the programme. Since the inception of the Technology Transfer Programme in 1988, a total of 28 SMMEs have been subcontracted to manufacture RIIC technologies. Out of the 28 SMMEs only 8 are currently participating in the Technology Transfer Programme. The others discontinued for a variety of reasons among which are:
Procedure for subcontracting the manufacture of RIIC technologies to SMMEs
Once the need to have some technologies manufactured is established by Central Store which stocks and sales all RIIC technologies, requests are made to the Technology Transfer Unit. Three quotations where possible are obtained from SMMEs who are on the List of Approved Subcontractors. These quotations are reviewed and a purchase order placed on the SMME that can supply to the lowest price and best delivery time. Depending on the quantity required purchase orders could be placed on two or more SMMEs for the same technology. The selected SMME is supplied with the following:
If the SMME is manufacturing the technology for the first time, the Technology Transfer Unit spends time with them and supervises the manufacture of at least one unit of the technology. This is to ensure
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that owner and staff are able to read and understand the drawings, use the jigs and templates correctly and apply the right manufacturing processes. The technological processes sheets that are part of the design package are used to ensure that the right manufacturing processes are followed.
During the manufacture of the required technologies follow up visits are undertaken by the staff of the Technology Transfer Unit to conduct inspections so as to ensure that they are being manufactured to the required specifications and quality standards. Any other problems associated with the production of the technologies that the SMME might be experiencing are addressed during such visits. On completion of manufacture the technologies are inspected and collected by Technology Transfer Unit staff. They are delivered to central stores for storage and selling.
Table 1 (p. 26) shows the total value of orders that have been given out to date to SMMEs since the inception of the Technology Transfer Programme. It also shows the number of SMMEs that have been contracted each year and the technology range.
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* Includes orders for components and spare parts
Problems experienced by the Technology Transfer Programme
Two major problems experienced during the transfer of the manufacturing know-how of RIIC technologies (Miti, 1993) are:
The Technology Transfer Unit is trying to address these problems by tightening the evaluation criteria discussed above.
Benefits of the Technology Transfer Programme
One of the benefits of the Technology Transfer Programme is the role the SMMEs play as innovators. These innovations relate to improvements of the technology to simplify the manufacturing
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processes and therefore reduce production costs. The other relates to enhancement of the performance of the technology. A case in point is that of the sorghum dehuller and hammermill. These products were initially developed by RIIC but were improved significantly with the assistance of one SMME, "Precision Engineering & Turning" of Francistown. Due to the experience gained by this company during the process, it has now been commissioned to come up with a larger model of the sorghum dehuller.
Another benefit of the Technology Transfer Programme is that of maintaining existing jobs and creating job opportunities through the contacting of SMMEs to manufacture RIIC technologies. The employment levels of the 8 SMMEs that are currently manufacturing technologies for RIIC are shown below in table 2.
Table 2: - Employment levels of 8 active SMMEs
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Other benefits of the Technology Transfer Programme include the following:
4. Technologies developed or adapted by RIIC
About fifty different technologies have been developed or adapted by RIIC since the organisation was set up. These include agricultural, bakery, building, leather and water lifting technologies. The current status of these technologies is as shown in appendix 2. Some technologies are no longer manufactured because of the following reasons:
The most successful technologies developed by RIIC have been the sorghum milling equipment (dehuller and hammermill) and the baking equipment (Kgotetso oven and rim oven). Entrepreneurs have used these by to set up milling and bakeries businesses throughout the country. The number of businesses set up is shown below.
Table 3: - Number of businesses set up using RIIC developed technologies
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1. K. Miti - University of Botswana, The promotion of appropriate technology in Botswana: A case study of the Rural Industries Innovation Centre", 1993.
2. Rural Industries Promotions Company (Botswana) - 1995/96 Budget.
3. B. Pilane - Rural Industries Innovation Centre, Technology Transfer Unit: A review of the achievements made from 1987 to 1993)", 1993.
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RIIC RESEARCH & DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMMES
1. Agricultural mechanisation programme
Technologies for improving agricultural productivity:
2. Small-scale industrial development
Small-scale industrial technologies for setting up small-scale turnkey industries.
3. Recycling technologies programme
Recycling technologies for setting up commercially viable recycling businesses.
4. Building material production programme
Technologies for improving building materials production.
5. Water lifting and storage technologies
Hand; engine driven, photo voltaic, and mechanical wind pumping systems.
6. Wind energy conversion systems
Wind pumps, wind turbines, transmissions, towers and ancillaries.
7. Photo voltaic technologies (As an alternative energy source)
8. Solar thermal conversion systems
9. Water treatment
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TECHNOLOGIES DEVELOPED OR ADAPTED BY RIIC
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© Friedrich Ebert Stiftung | technical support | net edition fes-library | Dezember 1999