Revolutionary Science Park planned for tourist town
According to Batawana Paramount Chief, Kgosikgolo Tawana Moremi, a whopping 500 million Euros (P5 billion) has been budgeted for the conversion of Maun Educational Park into Maun Science Park.
The bulk of the cash will be donated by various universities and research institutes from around the world, who will be able to use the facilities once they are built.
Speaking at a Kgotla meeting on Tuesday, Kgosi Moremi, together with an advisor to President Mokgweetsi Masisi on digital transformation, Casillis Koulolias, revealed major transformations will take place at the park and Maun in general over the next seven years.
To start with, 25 houses will be built at the park as a live-in lab to accommodate researchers and other visitors.
“The park will be self-sustained; it will produce its own energy, water and food and no trash will be collected from in there and it will be used to produce electricity,” explained a visibly excited Moremi.
The Science Park will house a still-to-be-built University of Modern Architect Engineering, which will admit both local and international students.
“A lot of products and Made-in-Maun items will be produced through this park. It will further work as a business incubator and we will see a lot of advanced technology products. We are talking zero footprint of vehicles where, through technology, they will come up with other mode of transport other than road,” continued Moremi, adding issues of climate change and clean energy will also be addressed.
For his part, Koulolias noted that if done right, the Park could become a major tourist attraction.
“The Maun Science Park will have some homes including the infrastructural and everything else with the latest technologies that are self sustainable and they will be built based on our indigenous knowledge and our way of living here in Africa, here in Botswana, Ngamiland, Maun!” he declared.
“There will be technology underneath that will be able to provide us with energy that we need, the water that we need and self-food production through vertical farms,” said Koulolias.
Maun Education Park dates back to the colonial era when Botswana was still under British rule. It was initially run by Batawana through Fauna Conservation Society of Ngamiland but was taken over by Department of Wildlife and National Parks in 1979 when government assumed control of most national parks around the country.
Although the park was created to bring wildlife closer to Ngamiland communities who live outside the Okavango Delta and national parks, in 2013 government moved to privatise it and transform it into a tourism hub with five star hotels and lavish restaurants.
Millions of Pula was invested in the project but it never took off.
In 2019, during Kgosi Moremi’s birthday celebration, Masisi announced he was going to hand the park back to Batawana as a gift to their paramount chief, who had just retired from active politics.
The park was officially handed back to Batawana last March.
However, the following month the country went into a Covid-19 enforced lockdown and has remained under State of Emergency (SoE) ever since.
Now it seems the wheels are once again set to turn, with Koulolias declaring, “The Maun Science Park was hit by Covid and a lot of administration procedures were delayed but we are on our way to get it launched.”
Away from the park, Koulolias promised that before the end of the year, Maun will have several free wifi hot spots, including in all schools and government premises.
Furthermore, at least 25 government services will be made available through mobile Apps and accessed online, including permits and licences.