SECTION of DOCUMENT:
A perspective on policies, programmes, problems and prospects relevant to the technology transfer in the Republic of Botswana is presented in this paper. An attempt is made to identify the technological needs and highlight the optimal technology mix" to achieve economic, social and environmental objectives, in relation to the resources of Botswana.
The Government of Botswana recognises the role of technological support to SMMEs in diversifying the economy and improving productivity. National Development Plan (NDP 8) has Sustainable Economic Diversification" as the principal objective. Small, Medium and Micro Enterprises (SMMEs) are considered as growth engines" to realise the above objective which aims to progress national development. SMMEs create jobs, generate wealth and stimulate entrepreneurship. To realise their vast potential, SMMEs need an enabling favourable supportive environment (free of hassles) so that they prosper and expand. In light of this fact, the Minister of Commerce and Industry, the Honourable K. G. Kgoroba, established, in May 1997, a private-sector led Task Force, to address comprehensively SMME issues and to develop a policy.
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This Task Force established three sub committees:
Each of the sub committees co-opted additional members from relevant Government Ministries, parastatals, SMME support institutions, NGOs and the private sector.
The Friedrich Ebert Foundation supported the work of the Task Force. The Task Force requested and received submissions from members of the public and interested organisations. Local consultations were held with business owners in Francistown, Gaborone, Kasane, Kanye, Masunga, Maun, Molepolole, Palapye, Selebi-Phikwe and Serowe. Members of Parliament were also consulted and invited to make submissions to the Task Force. Representatives from the Task Force and its sub committees visited relevant SMME support institutions in India, Malaysia, Mauritius, Singapore, South Africa, Thailand and Zimbabwe.
Based on this task force report and recommendations, the Government of Botswana is in the process of formulating a policy on SMMEs for Botswana.
Definition and characteristics of SMMEs
Because of the enormous diversity of scale (size) and sophistication of operations, the definitions of SMME are not intended to be precise/hard and fast and should be interpreted flexibly, considering the broad characteristics. The purpose of these definitions is to assist in the identification of broad target groups for particular policy measures. Approximately 56 300 SMMEs currently function in Botswana.
Micro enterprises/informal sector/tiny sector
Approximately 50 000 in number.
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Approximately 6 000.
Majority in manufacturing, lesser number in retailing, wholesaling and construction.
Government policies and programmes for SMME
Government had set up in 1974, Botswana Enterprise Development Unit (BEDU). This was followed by the Rural Industrial Office Cadre Programme and the Business Advisory Services.
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While the above four initiatives support SMMEs, other support-measures listed below are also significant:
The following developments have significant impact on the SMME sector in Botswana:
Guiding principles for Botswana's policy (identified by SMME Task Force)
Objectives of SMME policy (identified by SMME Task Force)
Technology support for SMMEs
The SMME Task Force pointed out that the technological needs of SMMEs are extremely diverse, reflecting the wide range of products and services that are provided by these enterprises and the comparative level of sophistication of the business operation. At one end of the spectrum, there are some high tech" small businesses, which need the most modern technology in order to compete effectively in manufacturing or providing service. In contrast to these businesses are the micro and small enterprises, which rely upon labour-intensive and low-skill operations, supported by appropriate technology".
The Task Force suggested to Government to give priority in technical support to the latter than the former, on the basis of their potential for employment creation.
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The Government of Botswana already funds the activities of several parastatal and government institutions which provide technological support for SMMEs, such as Rural Industries Innovation Centre (RIIC), the Food Technology Research Services, the Botswana Technology Centre (BTC), the Botswana College of Agriculture and Integrated Field Services (IFS). The Task Force indicated that there is a need for these institutions to upgrade their marketing and outreach, so that SMMEs are made more aware of the support available.
The Task Force had further recommended that parastatal and government institutions responsible for providing technological support for SMMEs should improve the means by which they disseminate information and advice. In particular, a more proactive approach to marketing their services is required.
The Government of Botswana endeavours to augment the capacity and capability of these institutions. Establishing regional offices of RIPCO in Gantsi, Kasane and Tsabong is envisaged.
Core policy strategies
In order to build science and technology capacities in the priority areas of the economic and service sectors, the Government of Botswana has the following strategic approach with emphasis on rural areas:
Selection of technology
Besides institutional facilities and policy measures, choosing appropriate technology is very important. Appropriate technology is the one most appropriate for a specific place, time, people (skill), material and money (extent of capital required).
The following broad criteria are worth exploring to identify, develop and/or transfer the appropriate technological choice:
There is a widespread misconception that traditional skills and technology could provide an adequate basis for rural industrialisation, and that the introduction of improved alternative technologies would invariably create structural dislocation. In actuality, the fact remains that there is hardly any industry in which the traditional skills of the rural artisans have any major application or use.
The experience of industrialised nations such as Japan and the USA show that requisite skills can be imparted through practical training, provided that the industrial technologies sought to be promoted are appropriate to the absorptive capacities of those to be trained in them.
Since the products of rural industries must compete in the rural and urban markets with those of large industrial units using better technologies, the former must be cheap, cost-effective and of reasonably good quality to earn consumer acceptance. One of the reasons for the decay of traditional technologies has been the high cost and poor quality of their products.
Appropriate technology does not mean avoiding advanced technology. We cannot prefer primitive or discarded technologies, just because they are labour-intensive and provide more jobs. To be competitive
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and more productive advent of advanced technology is a must. It is essential to upgrade the technological base in general.
We need leaps, not just steps. We cant settle for hurricane lamps where fluorescent lamps are the order of the day. Laser, optical fibres, CNC machines are all not out of range. We can't satisfy with a spoon where a shovel is required.
Upgrading technological capabilities will continue to remain as the cornerstone of our technology policy. Technological leadership is one of our cherished goals.
Some of the industrial sectors requiring advanced technology where there is a good scope for transfer of technology are enumerated in Annexure 3.
We need to develop and/or transfer not only just product technology but also process technology, inspection technology
Technology pertaining to processes like welding, electroplating, engraving, injection moulding, metal cutting and metal forming, heat-treatment, need to be developed and/or transferred. Trades like printed circuit board assembly, electric motor rewinding, unconventional machining methods, etc., need to be developed. Non-destructive testing methods need to be popularised and familiarised. Continuous upgrading of skills and technology is vital for national development.
An integrated approach is required to transfer new appropriate technologies and to upgrade existing technologies:
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Constraints or opportunities
Technology transfer has to support and upgrade existing technologies or replace it by suitable alternatives.
While the focus of technology transfer delivery system would be technological, it would have to comprehend the entire spectrum of services needed by the rural industries, which would include the supply of raw materials and equipment, mobilisation of financial assistance, provision of back-up services including spare parts and marketing support.
An important function of the technology transfer would also be the establishment of repair and maintenance services, which in themselves could be starting points for new technology transfer and would also act as catalysts for modernisation in the design, standardisation and production of spares for the acquired appropriate industrial technology.
One of the first constraints faced by the rural manufacturers is poor communication of technology information. Within the immediate locality, the rural manufacturer may be well aware of the technology requirements for established products, but the possibilities of expansion or diversification are unknown. Even if the manufacturer is aware of technology opportunities, it may still be difficult to obtain or develop new product designs.
Constraints with regard to skills
Even where information on technology is available, lack of relevant skills, coupled with low level of education particularly among rural entrepreneurs, makes diversification difficult to achieve with unfamiliar or new technology. This point is already explained in this paper.
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Constraints relating to infrastructural services
Infrastructure development needs to be a step ahead of the industrial development. It should be a forerunner before technology transfer.
For example, lack of laboratory testing equipment, is a constraint experienced by many. Setting up of common testing facilities, common service centres could be a possible solution to such problems. An effective way of assisting small rural industries in places where there are clusters of similar industries is the creation of common marketing services and outlets.
Technology transfer imperatives - points to ponder
The following factors need assessment and due consideration:
Prior to technology development:
During various stages of technology development:
Commercial and User Information/Marketing Aspects:
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Instead of proliferation of new institutions, existing institutions like BTC, RIIC, and RIPCO are to be strengthened and supported. Attracting more foreign investment in various areas, particularly from developed nations, will significantly induct new technology, which will undoubtedly benefit Botswana. Institutional tie-ups will help to accelerate the transfer of technology relevant to Botswana. The assistance of international agencies like UNIDO, UNESCO, USAID, etc., should be solicited in the endeavour of technology transfer.
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Small, Medium and Micro Enterprises Task Force Report, April 1998, Ministry of Commerce & Industry, Republic of Botswana
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CLASSIFICATION OF ENTERPRISES IN BOTSWANA
SMALL, MEDIUM AND MICRO ENTERPRISES (SMMEs)
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BTC PRODUCTS LICENSED OUT TO INDUSTRY FOR COMMERCIAL MANUFACTURING
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Other Projects Undertaken by BTC
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AREAS FOR TECHNOLOGY TRANSFER (A SAMPLE)
© Friedrich Ebert Stiftung | technical support | net edition fes-library | Dezember 1999