Botswana’s P6 million Indigenous Knowledge System (IKS) project aimed at researching, documenting and storing the country’s indigenous knowledge did not meet the June 2012 deadline, officials in the Department of Research, Science and Technology confirmed yesterday.
The study, which commenced on February 2011 under the consultancy of University of Botswana’s Centre for Scientific Research Indigenous Knowledge & Innovation, is meant to enable policy and legislative framework for preserving indigenous knowledge among others.
Briefing the media on the project when it launched in 2011, Director of the Department of Research, Science and Technology, Lesego Motoma said there was an increasing realisation of the significance of indigenous and traditional knowledge in sustainable development.
“Most of the country’s indigenous knowledge has already been studied by outside researchers who in some instances have identified active ingredients and patented them, the country will reverse such evidence to prove that indeed the knowledge used for such products was tapped from Botswana,” she said.
She added that India has given precedence in the issue, though it was complicated and costly. Moreover she said once the policy was drawn, it would regulate researchers from outside who benefit from indigenous knowledge-based research at the expense of the nation and communities within which the knowledge was found.However, she said benefit sharing was a major challenge because most southern African countries share knowledge and it needed collaboration for the intellectual property to be protected.
She added that if that was not taken care of, it would not help if one country preserved its knowledge whilst in another part of the region the same knowledge was not protected. She pointed out that they faced challenges explaining what intellectual property is to an ordinary Motswana.