Africa-Press – Botswana. The BELNASA Youth Forum, a self-organised and World Bank-supported entity formed by young people from Botswana, ESwatini, Lesotho, Namibia and South Africa held a side session at the ongoing Science Forum in Pretoria, South Africa under the theme “Science, Technology & Innovation as levers to strengthen socio-economic development across Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Namibia, and South Africa.”
The event was graced by Marie Francoise Marie-Nelly, World Bank country director for Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Namibia, and South Africa, as well as Daan Du Toit, deputy director for International Cooperation and Resources at the South African Department of Science and Innovation. Addressing attendees, Marie-Nelly stated the need for young people to leverage science and technology to solve their most pressing socioeconomic challenges.”Our region faces many challenges and youth, through structures like BELNASA, can be at the forefront of solving these challenges by leveraging technology and innovation,” she said. For his part, Du Toit pointed to the need for collaborative efforts between governments and youth structures to push science and innovation across the region.
Giving the keynote address, Pearl Pillay, commissioner at the National Planning Commission encouraged young people to be fearless in assuming spaces in their quest to make a difference. “Only you can make an active effort to make changes in your life, that of your family and community in general,” Pillay said. “To do that, you need to be fearlessly committed to being a changemaker.”
The side event also had a panel discussion under the same theme, with panellists Kim Phatoli, Mpine Moejane, Frida Frans and moderator Dr Tshepo Feela discussing the role science and technology play in driving the socio-economic development of youth in Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Namibia, and South Africa.
“We are glad that we have been able to congregate young people in such a space with stakeholders from government and innovation bodies like the Youth ICT Council of South Africa,” said Ephraim Modise, chairperson of BELNASA Youth Forum. “Beyond this, BELNASA has several initiatives in the works which will ensure that we go beyond only conversations but also actionable and tangible groundwork.”
The Science Forum is being held in Pretoria at the CSIR International Convention Centre from December 6-8.