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THE E-INNOGRAM MARCH 2021 NEWSLETTER VOL 4, ISSUE 1

BUILDING BOTSWANA - ONE RECYCLED PLASTIC BRICK AT A TIME

In an effort to deliver affordable shelter whilst creating a greener Botswana, Eco Hub, a local start-up company supported by the Botswana Innovation Hub (BIH) whose eco-brick project was funded by the Botswana Innovation Fund (BIF), unveiled the first ever eco-brick structure in the form of a pilot classroom at Lobatse Senior Secondary School.

The classroom was officially handed over to Lobatse Senior Secondary School by the Minister of Tertiary Education, Research Science and Technology, Hon. Dr Douglas Letsholathebe.

Eco Hub company innovatively converts recycled plastic mixed with recycled wood powder and other additives into eco-bricks. The company has innovated both the brick and the mould yielding interlocking flat packs of single leaf type of 50mm and double leaf type of 100mm.

The easy-to-assemble, durable, low-cost bricks will be used to build structures ranging from homes, classrooms, community rooms and others.

During the COVID-19 era, classroom shortages have become a major challenge in most schools across Botswana. The pilot classroom at Lobatse Senior Secondary School alleviates some of the pressure caused by the need for additional classroom space.

The eco-friendly classroom is 54 square meters and accommodates 25 pupils maintaining social distancing. The classroom has a sanitising station, 2 hand washing basins, solar television set and solar lights. The period of the pilot is 6 months allowing for continued monitoring and assessment of the eco-bricks durability against all weather conditions and occupation usage as well as the structures overall thermal comfort and energy efficiency.

Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Eco Hub, Letsogile Kennedy said, “More often than not, our societal challenges present opportunities for innovation. We have turned the challenge of plastic waste and landfill management into affordable housing, alongside creating a clean and healthier environment. Our vision is to see places such as old Naledi houses transformed into decent housing using our eco-brick, thereby restoring the dignity of our people”.

Buildings using Eco Hub eco-bricks boast the following benefits in comparison to conventional brick and mortar;

  • Affordable: Eco-brick is estimated to be +/- 40 % cheaper than conventional bricks and +/- 25% cheaper then alternative material.
  • Quick and time saving as it can be assembled in 7 days
  • Solar equipped
  • Architectural versatility and expandable
  • Resistant to fire
  • Resistant to termites and pests
  • Resistant to ultraviolent light
  • Little to zero maintenance required with long life of 20-25 years
  • Does not emit harmful gases to the environment
  • It is 100% waterproof.

Minister of Tertiary Education, Research Science and Technology, Hon. Dr Douglas Letsholathebe said “ The “new normal” as it is termed, presents a great opportunity for us to refine our products and services and find market opportunities locally and regionally, taking advantage of existing instruments such as the Africa Free Continental Trade Agreement (AfCFTA).

At its core, the Ecohub innovation is founded on the acute need for rapid construction, safety, and affordability”.

Commenting on the project, BIH Chief Executive Officer, Alan Boshwaen said, “Government has placed new emphasis on innovation and technology uptake as the new mode of growth for the economy because innovation is a key enabler of the next wave of economic development. This innovative type of building offers an alternative shelter solution that has the potential to significantly improve the lives of people through its rapid deployment, affordability and use of recycled materials and solar energy as added value.”

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CALLING CODERS, DEVELOPERS AND PROGRAMMERS TO SHOWCASE THEIR SKILLS

BIH is calling software developers to join a web-based platform that showcases digital skills of software developers to stakeholders (both private and public) and interest them to collaborate or procure developers skills.

The BIH Top 1000 Digital Skills Platform enlists top 1000 software developers in the country. The registered innovators will be able to participate in developer activities such as workshops, trainings, hackathons and many others that will be facilitated through the platform.

Software developer are encouraged to register at https://www.skillsranker.bih.co.bw or access the platform through the BIH website https://www.bih.co.bw/