The brainy boss

Kabelo Adamson

HRDC CEO talks knowledge meet the boss

Having been appointed as the Human Resource Development Council (HRDC) CEO last June, Dr. Raphael Dingalo feels his organisation is perfectly placed to lead Botswana’s economy away from resource-based to the promised land of knowledge-based.

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Speaking to Voice Money’s KABELO ADAMSON, Dr. Dingalo, an academic of note, outlines exactly what needs to be done to achieve this transformation.

Q. What exactly does your role entail?

As the CEO, I lead the development and monitoring of the implementation of HRDC’s strategic and operational plans and report periodically on progress and performance to the Board.

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I also ensure that there are appropriate processes, systems, controls and operating mechanisms in place to promote effective and efficient delivery of internal and external services.

I also ensure close and smooth inter-department collaboration and teamwork.

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Kindly share HRDC’s mandate with us.

HRDC plays a critical role in championing His Excellency the President’s transformation agenda which entails moving the country from mid to high-income status as anchored on the transformation from a resource to a knowledge-based economy.

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Specifically, we are driven by the following objectives that make up the mandate of HRDC: We provide for policy advice on all matters of National Human Resource Development (NHRD); we co-ordinate and promote the implementation of the National Human Resource Development Strategy (NHRDS); we formulate human resource development plans for key sectors of the economy through linkages with employers, including as well formulating the National Human Resource Development Council.

Lastly we plan and advise on Tertiary Education Financing and Work – Place Learning.

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Q. When you were appointed HRDC CEO, what were your priority areas?

My first priority was to enthuse staff to play a significant role in ensuring HRDC delivers on its mandate.

On every occasion I have to address staff members I make it known that I, as the CEO, do not lay claim to a monopoly of intellect and for this reason I am open to intellectually stimulating debate on how we can make HRDC a leading organisation, and an organisation worth identifying with.

I have opened my doors to all staff members to engage with myself and my team on whatever issue they believe can move our organisation forward.

I have also prioritised the use of ICT for improved service delivery.

In pursuit of utilising ICT for improved service delivery, I have developed the ICT Strategy and some of the projects under the strategy entail the Development of a Labour Market Information System, which monitors labour market patterns and trends affording us a system to stem out mismatch in Institutions output and the demand for labour.

I am also pursuing the development of an e-HRDF system, whereas levy payers will be applying for their reimbursement claims electronically thus improving on turnaround times for claims.

We are currently using Microsoft Project to monitor our projects and Executive Strategy Manager (ESM) by Palladium to monitor organisational performance.

Our Board meetings are paperless and in the next five-year Strategic Plan, I am planning on a paperless HRDC.

Q. How is HRDC positioning itself to contribute towards Botswana’s shift to a knowledge-based economy?

As HRDC, we have bought into the World Bank definition of a knowledge-based economy, being one that utilises knowledge to develop and sustain long-term economic growth, and the four pillars that make up such, being: Policies favourable to market transactions, open to free trade and foreign direct investment; Research centres, universities, think tanks, that create new knowledge; Communication, dissemination, and processing of information and technology; and Education, especially in the scientific and engineering fields.

HRDC has developed the National Human Resource Development Plan.

The Plan talks to Relevant Education and Skills for Employability and Entrepreneurship, including partnerships between ETPs and employers in the development and review of programmes; reskilling and retooling the current labour force as well as the provision of lifelong learning for the employed, and Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) programme to nurture talent and potential at all levels of education and skills development system, including the workplace amongst others.

Q. Looking at the current developments, would you say the country is on the right track to becoming knowledge-based?

I believe the country is on track.

We need to understand that transformation does not happen overnight.

It is a planned activity and the development of the NHRDP and the Education and Training Sector Strategic Plan shows that we are on track.

But of course, the devil is in the implementation.

Q. What more can be done to fast track this transformation?

What the country needs is radical economic transformation and pushing for Public-Private Partnerships.

We have massive land and land is an asset.

For example, Government can reduce its spending on BIUST by partnering or selling off BIUST to a reputable international university.

This will spare Government the huge sums from both development and recurrent that goes to BIUST for other critical interventions, mainly infrastructural development.

Government must pursue Privatisation with zeal and zest, including Air Transportation System, Civil Aviation etc.

Government’s contribution should only be as far as leasing land to Airport developers. We should, therefore, be ready to open our borders and appreciate the ‘foreign-born’ but at the same time ensuring that we target ‘real foreign-born investors’.

Q. Which sectors of the economy do you feel should be of top priority in achieving a knowledge-based econoy?

Transportation, mainly Air Transportation as an enabling sector, and the need to have an iconic international airport.

There is no high-income country that does not have an international airport as Aviation supports many other sectors.

Alexandre de Juniac CEO of IATA contends that Aviation Industry is growing at a rapid rate, in years to come they are going to have challenges to do with infrastructure, i.e. airports, hence the country should tap into this opportunity.

ICT, of course, is critical as there is a need to leverage on and prepare for the 4th Industrial Revolution.

We should, therefore, ensure targeted FDI, including luring big ICT companies to set up shop in Botswana.

Manufacturing is also critical and the need to develop our leather industry through designing quality leather products, which can be exported.

Furthermore, there is also a need to capitalise on our diamond industry by maximising on the diamond value chain, which should also drive our manufacturing.

Creative and Performing Arts is one sector that can create jobs for many creative Batswana especially the youth.

All these are premised on a robust education and training sector.

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