Botswana, Jump to the Next Curve

They say that the ideas of a physicist can be turned into useful objects: a rocket, a quartz clock, or a microwave oven for cooking. The ideas of Government turn into only themselves, as the hands of the clock do, or the face of a person does, it changes, but only more into the person, like the ideas of a Government. The ideas of the people though, are like letting a thousand flowers blossom, allowing a hundred schools of thought contend, cuts from a different cloth that no one knows its thread count, harnessing limitless acuity. The next curve is carved from human ingenuity.

When you go from telephone to internet, from daisy wheel printer to 3D printing: you see, hear, meet and smell real next curve type of growth, chiselled from the brains of our kind. In Botswana we have termed our next curve “economic transformation”. We want an inner century revolution that shall be met with totality, worldwide presence, real empowerment, breakthrough creativity, phenomenal productivity, and a breath of meaning into everyone’s life. This next curve of ours is anchored on “an export led economy”. To have a real chance of achieving an export led economy, many Botswana products and services must be accessible to many people outside Botswana, that way, the internet is essentially a fundamental fixture in our supply chain mixture. We can build products and services and regardless of how we build them we can reach many people around the world, that is what export led economy means.

We can achieve this through anything, if its digital. The beauty of an export led economy is that it shall create endless opportunities for all Batswana, but it is unachievable without digital capability. What Botswana needs today is to build on-demand solutions to enhance the digital economy. We have the tools to cross that uncanny divide. Through a digital ecosystem designed for the world, we can champion a new economic paradigm of exponential growth. At the nucleus of this digital ecosystem being the Government, how digitalised Government services get determines how fast goods and services are exported from Botswana to the world. The digitalisation of Government services is often called e-Government: the cornerstone of economic transformation and fortunes for all Batswana.

It would be wrong to call it a small country given their achievements where so many have failed but, In Estonia life without a digitalised government is almost unimaginable. Peeter Smitt, Business Area Director at Nortal describes e-Government as the backbone of life in Estonia. “When our country gained its independence in 1991 we had absolutely nothing. We had to think smart and grow fast in a short period of time. Instead of constructing Brick and Motta we focused all our energies on constructing an e-Government capability, we call it the X – Road. We started with building each of the more than 2000 components one at a time”.

In Estonia the government believed in the possibility of exponential growth through e-Government and much more in that it could be achieved through their people. “Government had absolute trust in us. At Nortal, we were tasked to build what has now totalled to 40% of the e-Government programme. We worked with so many local companies of different sizes. We bridged the gap between our envisioned future and reality through investment in digitalisation”, words from Peeter Smitt.

Let us relate Government service excellence to quantum supremacy. The current way of government would be classical computers that work in ones and zeros, that’s an imperfect model, exponential growth works at a quantum level, where we simulate ecosystems better and drive improvements through application of exponential capability that goes with quantum computing. The combination of digitalisation and an export led economy will lead us to unprecedented progress.

Through the people, Government must think about new and effective ways to addressing the unique responsibilities that it has. There is an old saying that when you give a man a hammer after a while everything starts to look like a nail. When you think of Government and its traditional role, the hammer is policy and regulations: these are typically the approach that government uses to deal with challenges. It is incredibly important that government has good policies, however we live in a world where we have increasingly complex problems and an increasingly globally connected and competitive world. Government needs new tools in its toolbox to be able to provide to all citizens, citizens who are demanding a more effective and efficient government.

To become a high income country we need to make progress in the core areas of transformation. At the centre of all the core areas remains e-Government or digitalisation. The definition of ‘high income economy’ is when all Government of Botswana services are accessible from anywhere is the world, seamlessly interfacing with the movement of goods and services. If the government delivers e-Government programme well, confidence created alone will drive economic growth, and foreign direct investment will flow in at an accelerated pace. Our public sector could become insanely competitive, moving at a pace twice as much as that of the private sector!.

Government ought to implement projects that the private sector can use for their projects -projects that resolve and solution, stretch the form, and breathe a startling freshness into everyday business in Botswana.

“It will take leadership to get it done. We need exponential leaders in Government, exponential leaders who will bring ideas to life quickly. Leaders who will experiment, tolerate failure, encourage moonshot ideas, reinvent after lessons learnt, and foster cultures of risk taking and creativity. This will fast – track emerging domains of getting things done in Botswana. Exponential leaders successfully crowdsource nearly everything they need — ideas, capital, design, software — to fast track progress. This is key in that the crowd opens their minds to ideas and diverse perspectives they may have missed in closed systems — all the hidden gems and diamonds in the rough. Exponential growth requires us to think outside the box in exponential terms” – Oabona Kgengwenyane.

Authors:

Innolead Consulting: Your Execution Partners, in partnership with Nortal: Building a Seamless Society: offering strategic approach and data-driven technology in order to simplify and optimize processes for governments, business and healthcare. We are reachable at www.innoleadafrica.com, f: Innolead Consulting: @InnoleadConsult, innolead@innolead.co.bw, +267 3909102,