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close this bookGATE - 4/93 - Botswana: Rural Industrial Development (GTZ GATE, 1993, 48 p.)
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View the documentHow to initiate rural industrial development
View the documentRepublic of Botswana
View the documentPoverty and profits: The Work of RIPCO
View the documentSmall industry promotion in hard times: The Work of RIIC
View the documentMaximizing rural industrialization
View the documentAn innovation benefits women: The Sorghum Milling Project

How to initiate rural industrial development

On the Cooperation between GTZ/GATE and RIPCO/RIIC in Botswana
by Kit Morei and Hannah Schreckenbach

Within the context of a cooperation programme, GATE has been working with NGOs in developing countries since 1981. The aim is to help counterpart organizations advise target groups on the development of appropriate technological solutions. One of the oldest counterpart organizations is the Rural Industries Innovation Centre (RIIC), a subsidiary of the Rural Industries Promotions Company (RIPCO) in Botswana. Kit Morei, General Manager of RIIC, and Hannah Schreckenbach, GATE's liasion person since the beginning, report on almost ten years of cooperation.

Kit Morei, RIIC:

"The Rural Industries Innovation Centre (RIIC) has been a recipient of financial and material support from the German Appropriate Technology Exchange (GATE), consequent to an agreement of cooperation entered into between Rural Industries Promotions Company (RIPCO) in Botswana and Deutsche Gesellschaft fur Technische Zusammenarbeit GmbH (GTZ) in May 1984.

The scope of the cooperation between RIPCO/RIIC and GTZ/GATE was intended to cover the exchange of information on concepts of appropriate technology and technology transfer in the following areas:

- To share experiences in the identification of technological needs and solutions for respective target groups. Literature on these areas has been received from GATE and has been very helpful.

- To cooperate in the fields of development, research on adaptation, diffusion, consumption, exchange and transfer of appropriate technologies;

- To cooperate in the development of methods and instruments for applying and disseminating appropriate technologies;

- To carry out small-scale programmes and projects in the field of appropriate technology and rural development.

GATE through its "Information Service for Appropriate Technology" - project (ISAT) has financed numerous projects at RIIC including a small projects development programme; solar desalination project; development of a multi-purpose thresher; shallow borehole and hand pumps development; small scale bread oven; batch solar water heater; poultry equipment; chaff cutters; Rhino hammermill; rural roads equipment; low cost circular saw; dough kneading machine; non-ferrous and ferrous foundry initiative and the design and development of low cost village transport in the areas of sand tippers; water cart/bowler and scotch cart.

Support was also received from GATE/ISAT for research and development activities within RIIC's Building Research Project. This included testing and optimization or micro concrete tiles, lime oxide paints, and compressed earth blocks for self help housing.

A computer for the Village Skills Training Programme's data base was also procured through this initiative.

Moreover, funds were committed towards the publication of operators's and maintenance manuals including the major "Catalogue of Goods and Services".

The support for these projects by GTZ/GATE is very much appreciated. The assistance has in many ways helped RIIC to provide vital services to its clients. Without this help RIIC's effort in the implementation of its rural development mandate would have had very little impact."

Hannah Schreckenbach, GATE/ ISAT:

"I would like to concentrate on some important 'stations' on the road on which our partner went in this development. The road, to stay with this visualization, was not smooth all along. It was rough going at times, requiring divisions, new 'designs', but RIPCO/ RIIC never lost sight of their ultimate objective: to achieve an economically viable and sustainable rural industrial development involving rural people themselves.

What impresses me most is that in the implementation of RIIC's objectives the whole staff is involved in a participatory way, as well as the clients: rural artisans, women, youth and would-be entrepreneurs.

The other important aspect in the way in which RlPCO's and the subsidiaries' objectives are achieved is the orientation on suitable and appropriate technologies for manufacturing processes for dissemination on a commercial basis. The setting-up of profit-oriented enterprises which create employment for people in the rural areas was a consequent step further than purely providing training for rural artisans (the Village Artisan Training Programme is taking care of this - and also very successfully).

The Extension Department is charged with effecting this dissemination, after an adapted and sufficiently tested technology has proven to be suitable for conditions in Botswana and the products manufactured have a local market. The interested entrepreneurs receive the necessary training at RIIC and credits through a Government initiated credit scheme for small scale industries. The Government itself has acknowledged the important role of RIPCO/RIIC in rural industrial development.

I had a chance to take part once in one of the regular 'brainstorming sessions' at RIIC. It was most interesting to experience the wealth of ideas which were forthcoming at this session, at which all the staff of the centre was present. Quite a number of ideas from such sessions were in fact taken up and implemented, perhaps with one or another modification. It is therefore not surprising to feel an atmosphere of team spirit and also pride at RIIC.

Also we are very proud of the fact that our cooperation partner has, over the years of our relation, turned into the most important resource centre for rural industrial development in Southern Africa."

RIIC - Rural Industries Innovation
Centre Private Bag 11
Southern Africa.
Tel: 00267340392/3448/449
Fax: 00267340642.
Republic of Botswana

Republic of Botswana

Botswana attained self government in 1965 and became an independent republic on 30th September 1966 after 80 years as a British protectorate.

The constitution has established a non-racia multiparty democracy which maintains freedom of speech, freedom of the press and freedom of association, and affords all citizens equal rights. It also provides for a unicameral legislature, the National Assembly. All citizens from 21 years can vote. The he ad of the party that wins the elections becomes the de jure head of state and elects his cabinet ministers from his parliamentarians in the National Assembly. The President (presently Sir Ketumile Masire) is the executive head of government and presides over the cabinet.

In addition to the National Assembly, there is a House of Chiefs which provides advice on matters affecting custom and tradition. There is also an independent judiciary with a High Court presided over by a Chief Justice.

Administrative structure
The capital of Botswana is Gaborone. Central Government is represented in each district through a district administration headed by the District Commissioner, while local government in district and town councils is each headed by a Council Secretary and Town Clerk respectively. District and town councils have elected councillors, but the Minister of Local Government, Lands and Housing may nominate additional councillors.

Geographical scenario

Botswana is a landlocked country which straddles the Tropic of Capricorn in the centre of the Southern Plateau. The mean altitude above sea level is approximately 1000 metres and the country’s total land area is 582,000 square kilometres - about the size of Kenya in East Africa and Texas in the United States of America. Botswana shares the border with Zimbabwe, South Africa, Namibia and Zambia.

Much of the country is flat, with gentle undulations and occasional rocky outcrops. In the north-west features the Okavango Delta and Makgadikgadi pans in the central north-east, and the Limpopo Valley at its confluence with the Shashe River in the east. Most of Batswana ("the people of Botswana", editor's remark) live in the eastern part of the country because it is favourable to crop production.

The rest of the country is covered with thick sand layers of the Kgalagadi Desert, which accounts for two-thirds of Botswana's land area. The sand cover is up to 120 metres deep. Although with almost complete absence of surface water, the Kgalagadi Desert supports a vegetation of shrub and grasses.


The country's climate is largely semi-arid due to its closeness to the subtropical high pressure belt of the southern hemisphere. Mean rainfall ranges from 650 mm in the east to less than 250 mm in the south. Rainfall occurrences occupy October through April with dry spells from May through September.


A single track railway line connects Botswana with the South African and Zimbabwean rail systems and with the sea ports. The main highways are asphalted.

Regular air services converge on Sir Seretse Khama International Airport, and thereafter connect with major international airports in the SADC region, South Africa and Kenya, as well as London and Paris. Internal air services are maintained between major cities and Maun in the north west district, the gateway to the Okavango Delta.

Botswana has international telecommunications links through an earth station at Gaborone, as well as via South Africa. Microwave links have been established between Gaborone and South Africa and between Francistown and Bulawayo in Zimbabwe.

The People

With a cosmopolitan population common to many countries of the world, most of Botswana's citizens however, are members of the Setswana speaking tribes or clans. The official languages are Setswana and English, the latter being predominantly used in business.

National population census is conducted every ten years. From 650 000 people during the first census in 1971, Botswana's population reached just over 1.3 million in 1991, representing an annual growth rate of 3.5%.

Natural Resources

Botswana's main natural resources include range and arable land, rich wildlife habitats with large animal populations supporting the tourist sector, and a variety of known and promising occurrences of minerals.

The livestock sector, one time the backbone of the country's economy, has now been overtaken by the mineral industry, principally the diamond sector. Other mineral resources include copper nickel, coal, and soda ash. Further mineral exploration is being substantially constrained by remoteness, the thickness of the Kgalagadi sand and the high cost of supporting the infrastructure.


The 25 years since independence in 1966 have witnessed remarkable economic transformation in almost all sectors of the economy including water development and reticulation, roads, health, education, banking, housing etc.

It is estimated that GDP in real terms has averaged around 13% per annum over the post independence period. Real GDP per capita (based on de facto population) was about eight times higher in 1988/1989 than in 1966. Despite Botswana's success in real terms 51% of Botswana live below Poverty Datum Line.

The remarkable economic development has also resulted in the expansion of formal sector employment, which has averaged 9% since independence, in which the private sector has equally played a dynamic role.

The national capacity to maintain this economic momentum has since the early 1980s been vitiated by periodic droughts and insufficient turnover from the mineral sector occasioned by the international economic recession. Consequently, the government has continued to place increased emphasis on economic diversification m order to increase the national capacity to generate spin-offs necessary for economic development, in all sectors of the economy.

Organizations such as the Rural Industries Promotions Company (Botswana), have played an essential complementary role towards the realization of economic diversification through the development and dissemination of industries in rural areas.

Jackson Maleke

Poverty and profits: The Work of RIPCO

by David Inger

The Rural Industries Promotions Company (RIPCO) is an NGO set up in 1975 to advise, assist and build up rural light industry by disseminating appropriate technologies on a commercial basis. The aim was to help the people in Botswana's rural regions who have remained poor in spite of the "economic miracle" - because rapid growth has not alleviated social inequalities.

Botswana is a country of startling contrasts. Often hailed as the economic miracle of Africa, it is true that the Government has trier to use the income from diamonds wisely. An excellent primary health care system has been established, together with the provision of education, safe water supplies, and extensive infrastructure. These facilities have improved the quality of life, but job creation and income creation have proved much more elusive.

Over half of Botswana's population live below the Poverty Datum Line, and there are immense inequalities of income. The ratio of income between the top 20% of the population and the bottom 20% shows that the top fifth earn 23 times more income than the bottom fifth. Out of a sample of 20 developing countries world-wide, Botswana comes second only after Brazil in terms of inequalities of income. There is an immense contrast between the "high life" of the modern enclave, with its conspicuous consumption, and the realities of great poverty in the rural areas. Women are particularly hard-hit, with over 50% of rural households being "female headed."

Going into business

The Rural Industries Promotions Company (RIPCO) is involved primarily in helping people in the rural areas to generate income, and in improving the quality of life. Many visitors however, are surprised to learn that RIPCO also operates a number of commercial companies aimed at making a profit, as well as creating employment. These operate under the auspices of the National Industries Promotions Company (NIPCO), a 100% owned subsidiary of RIPCO. In most of the companies NIPCO has a majority shareholding, in partnership with other entrepreneurs.

For many years the management and directors of RIPCO have believed that the methods of modern business companies are equally applicable to any other organization. Management accounting, strategic planning, information technology, and management information systems, can all contribute towards more success in achieving the goals of the organization, be these "developmental" or "commercial". We also believe that whilst our company has the clear primary mandate of helping the rural poor to become more self-suficicent, It is also necessary to keep in close contact with the business world in the urban areas. They too are involved in job creation, and many of these companies are doing it far more efficiently than development organizations.

A decision was made to privates some of the organizations activities, namely a sorghum mill which was used as a demonstration project for our milling technologies, and a carpentry shop which had been involved in research, but after some years was mainly involved in production. This was in recognition or the tact that research and development geared to rural development, and profit making companies, called for different styles of management, and that it was also desirable to have a clear separation between the two types of activity. Further, subsidiaries were added, including a company promoting solar technologies and involved in plastics and electronics. These companies were eventually consolidated under the National Industries Promotions Company, representing a clear division between the commercial and non-commercial activities. There are also investments in industrial and residential property, and a consultancy division.

Although these companies do not directly address the needs of the rural poor, they create a significant number of jobs, and in the very long-run through their profits will help reduce reliance on outside donors for development activities. They also help the organization to keep in touch with the business community, and modern business methods; and technology-based companies help the organization to remain at the cutting edge of innovative technology.

Innovate or die

In addition to a six year corporate strategic plan, which is revised every three years, RIPCO management is to develop a ten, and even a twenty year perspective. In that period development organizations must become more financially self-sufficient, they must expect to reduce staffing levels, and basically they must "innovate or die".

This also means that the staff of every organization have to be exposed to, and actively involved in, the corporate ethic of innovation. As I write this article, my Personal Secretary, a senior member of staff, has just made tea for me. The cleaner, the most junior member of staff who normally makes the tea, is doing data processing on the computer. Nobody suggested this to them. They just thought it would be a good idea to get the cleaner involved in information technology whilst the Secretary took over the more menial job for a while. A very small thing perhaps, but indicative of the flexibility that creative organizations need.

Tom Peters in his book called "Re-inventing Civilization" states that "curiosity power" is the key to success, and organizations must become more self-questioning, more knowledge-intensive, and less capital-intensive. The next decade will be the decade of the human mind. The Microsoft Corporation, with an annual turnover of $2 billion has shot past General Motors on the stock market, although the latter has a turnover of $ 124 billion. But as the New York Times pointed out "Microsoft's only factory asset is the human imagination."

We look forward to the opportunity to this magazine again in the year 2003, if it still exists. How many development organizations will have successfully responded to the challenges of survival, and how many will be forgotten dreams?

RIPCO - Rural Industries Promotions Company

The Rural Industries Promotions Company (Botswana) RIPCO (B) is a company limited by guarantee. It is charged with the prime mandate of improving rural living standards and creating rural employment through the development and dissemination of appropriate technologies, and provision of appropriate technical training, and commercial services.

The organization was established through the funding support of the Friedrich Ebert Foundation in Germany for a ten year period (1974-1984). Since then the organization's annual budget has been substantially funded by the Government of Botswana. The balance continues to be found from donor agencies (such as the GTZ/GATE), interested in supporting specific projects, and from the company's commercial operations.

The company operates as a parastatal under the portfolio responsibility of the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, and its policy decisions are formulated by a Board of Directors. The directors to the board are appointed by the Minister of Commerce and Industry, following a recommendation from the Managing Director with the approval of the substantive board. By tradition, the board chairperson has been the Permanent Secretary to the Ministry of Commerce and Industry. The nature of this relationship keeps the supervising ministry adequately informed of the company's performance.

RIPCO is headed by a Managing Director who coordinates and supervises all the subsidiaries through the respective General Managers.

The company's mandate is carried out through the following two branches:

- Rural Industries Innovation Centre (RIIC), located at Kanye in the Southern District of Botswana, acting as the national appropriate technology development and dissemination centre.

- The National Industries Promotions Company (NIPCO), providing business and consultancy support to subsidiaries and to other development organizations. The company comprises four subsidiaries: BORIIC (Pty) Ltd., which provides a sorghum milling service to the local market; Makwati Furniture (Pty) Ltd., manufacturer of high quality furniture; Solar Systems Afrique (Pty) Ltd., which manufactures a wide range of solar devices, to compete against imported products; the Pioneer Rural Industries Centre (PRICE) in Palapye in the Central District of Botswana which provides a range of integrated agricultural services through a "One Stop Service Centre for Agriculture" in addition to operating a conference centre.


Despite the "economic miracle" in Botswana, there is still a great deal of social inequality in the country. Half the population live below the poverty line, the hardest-hit being inhabitants of rural areas. The NGO Rural Industries Promotions Company (RIPCO) was established in 1975 to help them. Originally a non-profit organization, RIPCO went into business. At first, "developmental" and "commercial" goals were pursued jointly, but soon a clear distinction was made between research and development geared to rural development and profit-making companies. The author reports on RlPCO's aims, working methods and development.


Le Botswana connait malgre le 'miracle economique' de profondes dispalites sociales. La moitie de la population vit au-dessous du seuil de pauvrete. La pauvrete sevit surtout dans les regions rurales. Pour aider les populations qui y vivent, il a ete cree en 1975 une organisation non gouvernementale a but non lucratif qui est 'venue aux affaires'. La co-habitation initiate d'objectifs 'de developpement' et 'commerciaux' a bientot fait place a une nette distinction entre la recherche et le developpement orientes vers le developpement rural et les societes a but lucratif. L'auteur decrit les objectifs, les methodes de travail et le developpement de RIPCO.


A pesar del "milagro economico" hay en Botswana todavia grandes diferencias sociales. La mitad de la poblacion vive por debajo del limite de pobreza. Hay miseria sobre todo en las zones rurales. A fin de ayudarle a la gente que vive alla, se fundo en 1975 la organizacion no gubernamental Rural Industries Promotion Company (RIPCO), siendo esta una organizacion de desarrollo rural sin animo de lucro que se dedico al comercio. Luego de la combinacion inicial de objetivos de desarrollo y de comercio se produjo al cabo de poco tiempo una clara separacion entre la investigacion y el desarrollo, engranada con empresas de desarrollo rural con animo de lucro. El autor describe los objetivos, la labor y el desarrollo de RIPCO.

Small industry promotion in hard times: The Work of RIIC

by Jackson Maleke

GATE's partner in cooperation, the Rural Industries Innovation Centre (RIIC), is Botswana's national appropriate technology hardware centre. It is based in Kanye, in the country's Southern District. RIIC, a subsidiary of the Rural Industries Promotions Company (RIPCO), identifies, adapts or designs technologies geared to job creation and renewable energy, and provides training to increase rural productivity. It supports small-scale industry, whose products have to compete with cheap imports from South Africa on the domestic market.

The promotion of small industries is never easy at the best of time, but Botswana faces some additional difficulties. As part of the Customs Union with South Africa, Swaziland, and Lesotho, Botswana has to compete with mass produced low cost goods from South Africa. The Union is designed to protect South Africa's large capital-intensive industries, which are often also vertically integrated, e.g. from the tannery to the franchised shoe shop. Protection is only possible for very large industries, and in fact in Botswana it has only been granted twice, for a brewery and a soap factory. It is very difficult for small and medium scale industries to compete in this market, except where there may be a local competitive advantage.

Continuing with the example of shoes, the Rural Industries Innovation Centre offers tannery training. Artisans are trained to produce quality leather using only indigenous tanning agents, such as local roots and plants. In the leatherwork course they are also taught shoe making, but except for specialist footwear, it is impossible for them to compete with the South African shoes available through many local franchises. On the other hand, in the past we have also trained artisans from Mozambique, where there are no large-scale shoe outlets. Using the same tanning agents available also in Mozambique, they are now able to produce hides and to manufacture footwear for sale.

Another difficulty is that in Botswana costs of land, rent, water, and electricity are extremely high, although land costs are less of a constraint in the rural areas. All these problems have been exacerbated by several years of drought and an economic downturn in Botswana and the region.

Identifying economic advantages

In these circumstances, organizations have to be innovative in examining where they may still have an economic advantage. Generally speaking, we have identified four broad areas, although some of them are inter-related.

Firstly, if a uniquely innovative product can be developed with a ready market, then it will succeed. Such a product is the sorghum dehuller, which has resulted in the creation of a decentralized sorghum milling industry all over Botswana.

Secondly, although it may seem strange, food processing can flourish even during drought and economic hard times. Examples include milling inputs provided by Government under the drought relief programme. This led to the development of new products such as fortified sorghum meal and bakerles in the rural areas.

The third category is more intangible, but relates to innovative management. Small to medium industries can prosper if they are managed very efficiently and can keep down unit costs. Such industries in Botswana, producing every thing from pens and plastic bottles to school uniforms and furniture do exist, and manage to compete with South Africa. Many others however, with less competent management, have failed.

Finally, producers can be successful if they are near the end of the distribution chain. For example many of the small scale entrepreneurs trained through the Village Skills Training Programme are in remote locations, where there may be no trading outlets or perhaps just one or two small stores. In these circumstances, blacksmiths, carpenters, and others can flourish. With almost no overheads to cover, they can produce to meet the direct needs of the community, whether it be axes, buckets, chairs, or coffins.

Relating to the peoples' needs

Any initiative must relate to the market place, if not in price terms, at least in the sure knowledge that products and projects relate to the real needs of the people. The Rural Industries Innovation Centre relies on its Extension Department in identifying needs. Our company believes in the "problem solving" approach. Problems are identified and discussed with the community and appropriate solutions found. Of course after a period of time when particular technologies or services become clearly appropriate to the needs of many groups, then efforts are made to disseminate them further. Other techniques that are used include regular National Needs Assessment Surveys, and brainstorming sessions involving a majority of people from outside the organization involved in rural development.

Since its establishment, RIIC has developed and disseminated numerous technologies in the field to improve rural living standards. Such dissemination is carried out in close cooperation with the users. Some of the centres technologies such as the sorghum dehuller, mesh wire making machine, cinva ram block mould, to mention just a few, have been exported to other African countries. This initiative has enhanced the centres uniqueness and consolidated its credibility on the African continent. The centre has also attracted many foreign visitors, approximately 4.000 per annum.

Some achievements

- Appropriate areas in which RIIC has made tangible breakthrough include the development of rural water supply systems with emphasis on wind and hand pumping technologies, solar desalination, biogas programme and sand river abstraction project.

- In the sector of agricultural technologies, spectacular accomplishments include post harvest technologies such as a sorghum milling package, sorghum thresher, chaff cutters, and maize sheller. Moreover, the centre has produced a series of planters geared towards providing support to the arable agricultural subsector. Currently, a double row planter and a fodder bailer are at a development stage and it is hoped that by the end of 1993 tangible results may be achieved to warrant commercial production. Among these technologies, the sorghum dehuller has facilitated the development of a small scale milling industry in Botswana, with over 63 mills now operational in rural areas. The net result of which is rural development and employment creation.

- Progress has also been made in the development of bakery equipment such different types of ovens. These technologies are geared towards small and medium scale bakeries. Also a manual operated dough kneading machine has been developed and it is expected to accentuate production capacity in the baking industry.

- Other success are the development of diamond mesh wire making machines, lime oxide paints, a soil compactor, an adapted version of the cinva ram block press and micro concrete tile making machine.

- RIIC has since 1988 inaugurated a Technology Transfer Programme to take responsibility for the transfer of completed technologies to the private sector for commercial manufacture. This is a successful programme and its momentum continues to be maintained.

- Inaugurated in 1980, the Village Skills Training Programme is geared towards increasing productivity in the informal sector through the provision of replicable trades, with the result that jobs are created for the rural people and income earning opportunities improved.

- A small scale foundry project has been established to provide casted parts to line production sections such as the Research and Development Workshop. Emphasis is on aluminium and iron casting.

- The identification and dissemination of suitable technologies and services to the centre's clients' would have been impossible without the Extension and Outreach Programme.

RIIC's; Extension and Outreach Programme

Successful implementation of the programmes and industries in rural areas would have been impossible without the services of a dedicated extension and outreach initiative which emphasizes on the clients and their needs. Consequently, the centre's regional extension officers invariably undertake extended trips throughout the year to inform the general public about the outcome of the RIIC's initiatives directed towards fulfilling their needs. Moreover, the centre periodically conducts follow-up of its clients, and as circumstances dictate, provide technical and managerial support to enhance effective application of RIIC technologies for the benefit of the rural areas.

The extension services also include the responsibility for conducting needs assessment surveys to ensure the relevance and applicability of RIIC developments to the centre's clients. Moreover, the Department of Extension operates an Information Office which is responsible for promoting the centre's technological breakthroughs through a variety of media strategies such as radio programmes, newsletters, catalogues of goods and services, informational brochures, advertisements, press releases, as well as taking responsibility for several requests for information from a cross section of interests all over the world. The unit is also responsible for coordination of site tours and study missions. These strategies are geared towards effectively promoting the image of the organization within and without Botswana.

As part of its continuing effort to enhance the credibility of the centre's initiatives, the Department of Extension Services has opened up a new regional extension office at Palapye in the central district of Botswana. This office is required to represent the interests of all RIPCO (B)'s subsidiaries in the central and north east regions of Botswana, through the mobilization of the organization's productive potential.

Although the extension department was established sometimes in the 1970s, it was decided to inaugurate a regional extension wing in 1987 within the department to consolidate practicality as well as facilitate a more meaningful strategy for regional information dissemination and coverage. As a result of this policy decision, the programme has divided Botswana into five regions, each with its own designated extension officer.

These officers undertake quarterly trips to their regions to further the process of information of dissemination, marketing, promotion, identification of trainees for the village skills training programmes, including collection of pertinent data that can be utilized to provide a suitable direction for the centre's research and development initiatives.


Promoting small scale industry in Botswana is especially difficult because the domestic market is flooded with cheap imports from South Africa. In these circumstances, it is esential to be innovative and discover gaps in the market. The Rural Industries Innovation Centre (RIIC) identified economic advantages for small-scale industry e.g. in the development of a uniquely innovative product with a ready market, or in the fact that small to medium industries can prosper if they are managed very efficiently and can keep unit costs down. RIIC has assisted inhabitants of rural areas in the development and marketing of new technologies and products. Some of the innovations, for instance the sorghum dehuller, have been so successful that they have even been exported.


La promotion de la petite industrie est particulierement difficile au Botswana, le marche interieur etant submerge de produits bon marche issus d'Afrique du Sud. Dans un tel contexte, il s'agit d'etre innovant et de savoir decouvrir les creneaux de vente. Les travaux du Centre d'lnnovation des Industries Rurales (Rural Industries Innovation Centre, RIIC) ont revere que les avantages economiques pour la petite industrie resident par exemple dans le developpement de produits particulierement innovants pour un marche pret a les recevoir et que les petites et moyennes industries (PMI) peuvent prosperer si elles vent gerees efficacement et si elles parviennent a minimiser les couts unitaires. Le RIIC a assiste les populations rurales dans leurs efforts de developpement de nouveaux produits et techniques ainsi que dans leur commercialisation. Certaines innovations, le decortiqueur de mil par exemple, ont en un tel succes qu'elles vent egalement exportees.


El fomento de la pequena industria es especialmente dificil en Botswana, puesto que el mercado nacional se ve inundado por mercancia barata procedente de Surafrica. En vista de esta situacion es necesario tener espiritu innovativo y descubrir huecos en el mercado. El Rural Industries Innovation Centre (RIIC) identifico ventajas economical pare la pequena industria p.ej. mediante el desarrollo de un producto innovative con un mercado ya listo o en el hecho de que las empresas pequenas y medianas pueden prosperer si son administradas de forma muy eficiente y si pueden mantener bajos los costes por unidad. El RIIC apoyo a los habitantes de las zones rurales en el desarrollo de nuevas tecnicas y productos, as i como en la come comercializacion de los mismos. Algunas innovaciones, tales como la descascadora de sorgo, fueron tan exitosas que pudieron exportarse tambien a otros paises.

Maximizing rural industrialization

Technology Transfer Unit (TTU)
by Jackson Maleke

Since its establishment, the Technology Transfer Programme (TTU) has become a potential conduit through which RIIC filters opportunities for private sector development in rural areas, especially through the utilization of under capacity operations of the small workshops. Like this quite a number of jobs have been created. RIIC will continue to support the TTU programme in order to maximize rural industrialization opportunities as well as expand the scope for income generation to improve rural living standards.

Technical products and services are developed in response to problems or needs identified through extension efforts and close contact with the rural community. Although every village and every family is unique, inevitably certain common problems and successful solutions are developed through experience, as for example with the sorghum dehulling technology, which is marketed both locally and internationally.

Initially all machine equipment designed or developed by RIIC were manufactured in the Centre's own workshops, as there were no engineering workshops in the country, and only a few metalworking companies. However, by the mid 1980s the situation was changing, and a study was carried out which showed that several workshops had the capacity to manufacture RIIC products, after relevant training.

Manufacturing of our products by the private sector would enable the RIIC work shop to focus more strongly on its Research and Development mandate, without having to mix production activities and development activities - which call for different approaches.

A second major advantage was that a new capacity would be created in the private sector metal workshops, and with new products and markets expansion would take place, and new jobs would be created.

Thus came the development of the Technology Transfer Unit (TTU). The task was a challenging one. Most of the workshops had been involved in jobbing engineering, and had no experience of serial manufacture. TTU engineers had to provide extensive technical support, as well as business support, to enable the workshops to be successful in this endeavour.

Programme accomplishments

RIIC's task at the inception of the TTU programme was to mobilize technical, human and financial resources to develop the programme to a capacity that would assure effective service delivery.

RIIC trained 20 workshops in the production of at least one RIIC implement which each was ultimately designated to be produced. In conformity with this, a series of training sessions on production processes involving both simple and sophisticated technologies, took place at the RIIC Research and Development Workshop.

Regular site visits are undertaken by the programme personnel to carry out quality control exercises with the aim of providing a product that suits consumer expectations. The team also ensures regular inspection of the material for fabrication.

As a continuing part of the project responsibilities, TTU is expected to regularize provision of meaningful advice to its target group on workshop layout, production methods, safety measures, costing, marketing and related items. Additional technical support from RIIC includes provision of jigs, fixtures and templates, all meant to allow production of contracted items within established parameters.

Supporting private metal workshops

For workshops that would like to expand their production portfolio, TTU advises the entrepreneurs which financial institutions they can approach for funding support. In this connection, the programme staff have helped with completion of application formalities for funding from local financial institutions, including requirements covering requests for grants from the Botswana Government sponsored Financial Assistance Programme (FAP). Furthermore, the TTU collaborates with the RIIC Design Office team and the Research and Development Workshop to improve the manufacturability of products and technologies. This would especially address the complexity of certain technologies for manufacture by the small workshops, which may not be equipped to the standard of RIIC.

The project makes use of the RIIC Information Unit on matters relating to the production of sales brochures and operator's manuals as a part of continuing support to the local private metal workshops.

Links with local and external organizations

RIIC continues to be the link with the Government of Botswana and the private sector. This relationship is increasingly imperative because up to now, the Government of Botswana, through its Ministry of Agriculture, continues to be the key consumer of local metal workshops's products, many of which are of an agricultural nature.

RIIC continues to identify and adapt suitable technologies from other countries for replication within the TTU workshops to expand the scope for product diversification. This initiative has not only facilitated the realization and satisfaction of consumer demands, but even more important, has enhanced an enviable scope for local technology development capacity in Botswana. Consequently, reliance on imported products is reduced, leading to attachment of more value and preference to locally manufactured products.

A Barclays Bank revolving fund was set up in February 1988 as the realization that the metal workshops affiliated to the Technology Transfer Unit had constantly faced the problem of regular material acquisition due to lack of funds.


In the mid- 1980s there were various engineering workshops in Botswana capable of manufacturing RIIC products after appropriate training. The Technology Transfer Unit (TTU) was established to transfer production of RIIC products to the private sector. This had two advantages: first, it meant that the RIIC workshops could concentrate more on their research and development role, and second, it enabled the private workshops to conquer new markets with new products and create new jobs. The author describes how the TTU originated and how it works.


Au milieu de la precedente decennie, divers ateliers de mecanique du Botswana ont commence a fabriquer, apres une formation adequate, des produits RIIC. L'Unite de Transfert de Technologie (Technology Transfer Unit, TTU) a ete mise en place pour transferer la fabrication des produits RIIC dans le secteur privet Ceci presentait un double avantage: d'une part les ateliers du RIIC ont pu mieux se concentrer sur leur mission de recherche et de developpement, d'autre part les ateliers prives ont ete en mesure de conquerir des marches avec de nouveaux produits et creer des emplois. L'auteur decrit la mise en place et les methodes de travail de TTU.


A mediados de los anos 80 habia en Botswana diversos talleres de ingenieria en los que se logro fabricar productos del RIIC despues del correspondiente entrenamiento. Se creo la Technology Transfer Unit (TTU), a fin de traspasar al sector privado la fabricacion de los productos del RIIC. Ello tenia dos ventajas: por una parse, los talleres del RIIC podian concentrarse mas en su labor de investigacion y desarrollo y, por la otra, los talleres privados lograron conquistar nuevos mercados mediante nuevos productos y crear nuevos puestos de trabajo. El autor describe la creacion y la labor de la TTU.

Helping to Succeed at a "Micro Economic Scale"

The Village Skills Training Programme (VSTP)
by Jackson Maleke

Established in 1980 as a part of the Extension Department, the Village Skills Training Programme continues to contribute to rural industrialization through provision of sustainable training in carpentry, tanning, leatherworks, sewing and patchwork, blacksmithery and bakery. Completion of the training courses gear up graduates to develop a combination of perceptual and practical ideas towards starting-up their own businesses.

The programme's also based on the assumption that, although it is almost impossible to compel, with commercially mass produced goods and services, it is possible for these grassroots level technicians and producers to succeed at a "micro economic scale".

Local support structures

Training in this programme is recognizing the participants' family roles and responsibilities. Consequently, courses are reasonably short, with duration ranging from two to nine weeks. RIIC has tenaciously observed this procedure in order to facilitate ample flexibility for the target group, who are predominantly adults, to return name to resume routine family responsibilities.

The government sponsored Financial Assistance Programme (FAP), which provides a prorated grant to enterprising citizens of Botswana to start up businesses, is the main local support structure to the village skills training programme. Many of our graduates currently in business have done so through FAP funding support.

While the programme targets all citizens, a higher proportion of the benefit is geared towards the informal sector, with unemployed entreprising women getting an even higher incentive from the package, in consonant with government policy designed to encourage more women to venture into entrepreneurial activities. All beneficiaries are required to meet certain criteria among which is the need to raise their own contribution, either from personal resources or commercial banks, including the government sponsored National Development Bank. The beneficiaries are required to repay within the specified deadlines the interest bearing loan for their personal contribution to the commercial banks. No repayment is required for the FAP funding.

An additional FAP mandatory requirement for its funded operations is that they must strive as much as possible to provide job opportunities, as part of overall spin offs expected of industrialization in all sectors of the economy.

The RIIC extension officers provide valuable input in assisting the centre's enterprising VSTP graduates to complete formalities for this government funding scheme. The continued support to the client from training to funding sourcing represents RIIC's commitment to ensuring the realization of sustainable entrepreneurship in rural areas.

Revolving Fund

In 1988 RIIC introduced and implemented with external help a revolving tuna with the intention of providing start-up capital to enable its clients to meet direct purchase of capital items and raw materials. This was geared towards enabling the clients to get into production right away following completion of their VSTP-training at the RIIC. It was also meant to enable the clients to meet the 15% required for their contribution for assistance from the government sponsored Financial Assistance Programme, including commercial banks. Hitherto, 20 people have benefited from the revolving fund.

Programme course base

Each course in the programme provides training at novice and upgrading levels respectively. However, the flexibility exists to have courses conducted either at the RIIC site in Kanye or at a catchment location convenient to the trainees and sponsoring organizations.

The VSTP's objectives are:

- To increase rural productivity and incomes in both agricultural and nonagricultural sectors through the provision of training.

- To make rural areas more self-sufficient in both products and services.

- To upgrade skills of traditional artisans with the intention of increasing productivity and enhancing income generation capability.

- To provide training for beginners, to trainers or to people from other organizations or other developing countries.

- To assist programme graduates in overcoming operating constraints.
- To provide opportunities for programme graduates to be absorbed in the labour market.
- To ensure production of good quality goods that might otherwise be imported.
- To create linkages between graduates and the needs of their respective communities.

Notable achievements

The programme has increased its annual intake from 200 to 350 people for 1993/94 due to an increase in placement demand. RIIC will thus, continue to review its annual intake to determine subsequent action imposed by demand. Studies indicate that 60% of the total annual graduated artisans go directly into production, with continuing support from RIIC's extension team and collaborating agencies.

The remaining 40% of these graduates are known to have either branched off into formal sector employment, or used the artisan skill acquired as a stepping-stone for career advancement.

An autonomous; full-fledged business training component has also been introduced. It is designed to consolidate entrepreneurial acumen and rationalize progression by exposing the recipients to business management principles in order to better manage and run their businesses along contemporary management principles.

This course ha; been mounted for the first time in the programme with Bakery graduates during May /June of 1993. It is planned to maintain and extend the course to other VSTP components since it has provided incentives with long lasting impact on micro industrial capacity building in rural and pert-urban areas.

The RIIC Information Unit publishes a lo-annual newsletter in English followed by a Setswana transltion to keep the ax-trainees, sponsors and supportive grassroots organizations abreast of developments delivered through the programme.

The VSTP has six different components.

1. Baking Programme

Traditional baking in Botswana throughout history has been done over an open fire, with the result that a large amount of fuel wood was required to compensate for extra-heat loss into the open. However, with the growing public consciousness about environmental conservation, it has become evident that an optional baking mechanism that utilizes wood fuel conservatively is imperative. Consequently, RIIC has investigated efficient options and two devices were developed and actively disseminated.

The Rim oven is used for small scale bread baking. It is made from two truck wheel rims welded together. It stands on three legs and has a steel door on a hinge. Also, it has two shelves inside, on which baking pan sit. It is fired by wood. Mud bricks are used to enclose the oven and ultimately smoothed with damp mud. The strong materials used for constructing the oven make it fuel efficient. The oven can produce nine loaves of bread per batch.

Studies indicate that over 50 rim ovens have so tar been distributed and installed in rural areas, in response to the urgent demand for baked bread. With the progressive accumulation of proceeds from product sales, a medium-cum-large scale operation can be established, to maximize production capacity and enhance profitability.

The Kgotetso oven is ideally suited for large scale bakery production. The oven is made out of mild steel and bricks with a chimney. It has three insulated doors at the front. The lower door is for the fire box which is used to load the fuel wood. The middle door is used for the main oven and has two sliding shelves which make loading and unloading quicker and easier. Each shelf can hold 18 loaves.

The top door is the area used to raise the bread and also has two sliding shelves similar to the main oven chamber. A temperature gauge is positioned on the door of the middle oven. A water heater utilizes heat from the chimney to heat water for washing cooking utensils. It provides 50 liters of hot water. The Kgotetso oven produces 36 loaves per batch and up to 250 loaves per day. Better control of combustion and insulation have improved the fuel efficiency when using wood.

Currently 60 kgotetso oven installations have been put up in rural and pert-urban areas. This has led to availability of baked bread even in remote areas where hardly any bread was available in the past. With the high demand the market is sure to grow in the future.

The Kgotetso oven Mark 2 (K2 oven), either fired by wood or coal, has been developed and disseminated. It is particularly suitable for use in urban areas where wood is scarce.

2. Tannery

RIIC has since 1980 been offering training in vegetable tanning technology with emphasis being placed on the utilization of indigenous vegetable tanning resources such as tree barks, pods, leaves, and shrub tubers to provide the required tannages for skin and hide processing into leather.

The programme has also established a tanning method that can be replicated in rural areas. This approach was adopted in place of traditional tanning, for which the product did not attract a potential market due to its poor quality. Currently, a start has been made on synthetic tanning trials, the result of which will determine its rural applicability potential.

3. Leatherwork

The 8 week beginners' course is geared towards trainees with prior background in leatherwork from their local exposure. It will however, pay substantial dividends to those who had earlier taken the RIIC Tannery course and would like to venture into leatherwork for entrepreneurial purposes. A six-week-upgrading-course is geared towards refinement of stitching proficiency and coalescence of quality standard. Both courses also cover business management and bookkeeping to a certain extent.

4. Carpentry

Of a six week duration, the beginners' course introduces the trainees to basic carpentry activities with emphasis on production techniques and repair of various pieces of furniture ranging from the simplest to the complicated item, including economic use of timber. Business management, bookkeeping and costing of repairs consuture an integral part of the programme. The eight week upgrading course is designed to instill innovativeness into the trainees already in possession of a rudimentary knowledge in carpentry from the novice course. Coverage includes upholstery, bed making and repairs of a variety of high quality items.

5. Sewing and Patchwork

The four week novice course trains participants in basic sewing and pachwork techniques. It equips the trainees with the expertise of economic utilization of off: cuts to make different designs and patterns such as cushions, wall hangings and basic clothes. It also emphasizes on artistic creativity and innovativeness as essential elements for product diversification and design improvement. Lasting only three weeks, the upgrading course is geared towards refinement of skills picked up from the novice course. Greater emphasis is aid on various design parameters to assure a diversified product range for the rural market. Business management is also included in these courses as in the rest of the programmes.

6. Blacksmith course

The blacksmith programme is offered with the intention of utilizing local scrap materials to meet community needs for useable items. It also provides training in repair and maintenance of varied products, mostly domestic utensils and agricultural implements. Production and maintenance of agricultural implements have been of paramount significance m providing on-the-spot inputs to arable farmers in remote areas.

The eight week novice course is designed to introduce the trainees to handling and working with metal. Trainees are exposed to the different types of forges, their use, firing techniques, and techniques of shaping and producing metal products from heated scrap metals. More emphasis is laid on production of household and basic agricultural implements, which are in high demand in rural areas.

Of a nine week duration, the upgrading course is directed to fulfill a similar objective as its forerunner. It has the potential for growth into formal metal fabrication workshops, which will in turn provide a sustainable support to the rural economic sector.

Assistance to women

RIIC strongly subscribes to the need to integrate women in entrepreneurial activities in conformity with the Government's policy. As a result the Village Skills Training Programme has over the years witnessed an impressive level of participation by women in its training units, with 100% for Sewing and Patchwork; 98% for Bakery and almost 50% for Tannery and Leatherwork. Participation of women in trades that were historically seen as male domains such as blacksmithery, and carpentry has been even more impressive.

Support from RIIC to the VSTP

In addition to the technical training provided at novice and upgrading levels at RIIC, construction and equipping of the workshops to warrant immediate start on production, the centre continues to provide business management and bookkeeping support to strengthen entrepreneurial acumen.

All artisan owners and their book-keepers are required, before the commissioning of their workshops, to attend a mandatory simplified accounting course at the RIIC site in Kanye, conducted by the centre's accounting personnel. Coverage includes costing and pricing expressed through a job card. Daily cash receipts and invoicing procedure, as well as cash book and debtors ledger recordings are covered. The orientation also features a bank deposit and withdrawal format. This is meant to allow the semiliterate book-keepers to acquire basic knowledge for satisfactorily operationalizing a simple accounting system m their respective workshops.

Subsidiary support entails assistance with product marketing. As a result RIIC continuously extends invitations to the workshops to display their products at the district agricultural shows, Botswana International Trade Fair, Farmers's Field Days, Open Days etc., to enhance the workshops's image and afford a channel for disposing their products.

The RIIC Project Monitoring Division within the Extension Department carries out regular follow-ups to monitor accomplishments, provide advice on accountability and responsibility, and assist in charting out a suitable direction for upcoming project activities as the needs will dictate.


Grassroots-level technicians and producers in Botswana can hardly hope to compete with mass-produced goods. But small businesses do have a chance of succeeding on a micro-economic scale. It was on the basis of this assumption that RIIC implemented its Village Skills Training Programme (VSTP) in 1980, as a part of its Extension Department. The purpose of this programme is not only to train artisans, but also to introduce new appropriate technologies and basic business management skills. In May 1993 an autonomous, full-fledged business training component was introduced, initially in the bakery course. Since as early as 1988, graduates of the training courses who wish to set up their own businesses have received financial support from RIIC's revolving fund. The Centre also advises and assists them in marketing their products.


Au Botswana, les techniciens et producteurs de teas niveau n' ont quasi aucun moyen de concurencer les producteurs de produits de masse. Les petite entrepreneurs n'en possedent pas moins une dance ce reussite a "l'echelle macroeconomique'. Partant de cette hypothese, le RIIC a mis en place son programme de promotion des competences villageoises (The Village Skills Training Programme, VSTP) sous la tutelle de son Departement de Vulgarisation. II ne s'agit pas simplement de la formation d'ouvriers et d'artisans, ma is egalement de l'enseignement de nouvelles technologies appropriees et de connaissances fondamentales en gestion commerciale. En mai de l'annee en cours, un module complet et autonome de formation a la gestion a ete integre, dans un premier temps, a des cours de formation en boulangerie. Depuis 1988, les stagiaires qui ont acheve leur formation avec succes et qui souhaitent se mettre a leur compte, obtiennent du RIIC une assistance financiere issue du 'fonds renouvelable'. Le Centre fournit en outre vent assistance en matiere de commercialisation de leurs produits.


Los tecnicos y fabricantes corrientes practicamente no pueden competir en Botswana con los fabricantes de productos en mesa. No obstante, los pequenos empresarios tienen la oportunidad de tener exito a escala microeconomica. Partiendo de dicho supuesto, el RIIC establecio en 1980 su Village Skills Training Programme (VSTP) como parse de su "extension department". Ello comprende no solo la formacion profesional de artesanos, sino tambien la transmision de nuevas tecnologias adaptadas y de conocimientos basicos de gestion empresarial. En mayo de este ano se of recio un entrenamiento comercial autonomo completo, inicialmente en un curve de panaderia. Ya desde 1988, el RIIC les proporciona ayuda financiera a los graduados de los curves de entrenamiento que deseen independizarse. Dicho dinero proviene del "revolving fund". Ademas, el centro les asesora y les presta asistencia en lo relativo a la comerclanzacion de sus productos.

An innovation benefits women: The Sorghum Milling Project

by Jackson Maleke

In 1979 the Rural Industries Innovation Centre (RIIC) developed the sorghum dehuller, as a means of reducing the workload of women in particular. The new sorghum milling technology has meanwhile been disseminated not only throughout Botswana, but also in ten other African states.

Historically, sorghum processing in Botswana is done by way of traditional hand stamping in a mortar with a pestle, a task that has largely occupied much of women's time in rural areas, who have huther to served as principal actors on household food preparation chores.

The call for an easier way to process sorghum was answered following a 1977 needs assessment survey conducted by the Rural Industries Innovation Centre (RIIC) in the Southern District of Botswana. The information gained from this survey helped guide the RIIC to develop the sorghum dehuller in 1979 in order to alleviate the pounding constraint. The evolution of the sorghum dehuller has ushered in a new era for women in rural are as, and in turn allowed them to spend 41% amount of their time on productive economic activities, which would otherwise have not taken place.

The technology

The RIIC machine is a dry abrasive disc dehuller, adapted from the barley thresher modified by the Prairie Research Laboratory (PRL) in Canada. The principle employed is that of progressive abrasion of the outer layers of grains throughout the length of the dehuller barrel.

Significant technical advances on the dehuller contributed by RIIC include its aspiration system and trap door, which facilitate both batch processing and continuous production. As a direct result of these advances, the dehuller is capable of processing up to 600 kg of grain per hour. It requires either a 5.5 kilowatt three-phase or a ten horsepower diesel engine.

The dehuller operates alongside a hammer mill, which crushes the decorticated grains into the end product.

Continuous flow operation is ensured through a complimentary combination of these two technologies: the dehuller and the hammer mill. In addition to sorghum, the dehuller can be adapted to process millet, cowpeas and maize.

Two types of production services are rendered in the milling industry nationwide. These are service and commercial milling.

Service Milling

Grain bags are directly funneled by customers to the milling industry, whereupon milling is performed with charge per kilogramme imposed, after the overall weight has been determined. The dehulling process is normally performed to extract the bran, which has a bitter tannin taste. Bran, which is collected in bags is extracted at the rate of 12-15% of the total grain content. Subsequently, the decorticated grains are pulverized in a second process with a hammer mill.

Service milling will require a minimum of two to three unskilled labourers, one operating the dehuller and hammermill, while the other concentrates on weighing the bags for processing.

Commercial milling

For this purpose, the milling industry directly purchase several bags of grains, process them in a continuous flow, and pack the flour in plastic bags for sale. In a continuous process, the weighed grain is processed using the same equipment as for the service milling and the labour requirements are the same. However, two or so additional unskilled labour are normally required to operate the packaging unit, where weighing of the flour as well as sealing of bags is required.

The flour produced within this milling category, which is then sold to individuals and retailing outlets is a fine, nutritious product without a bitter tannin taste.

The development and dissemination of the RIIC sorghum milling technology has instigated the evolution of a decentralized milling operation in both rural and peri-urban areas nationwide. Following the emergence of this versatile and "economically ebullient" technology in 1979, a total of 63 individual and institutional milling operations have been established in Botswana. The net result of this industry has been and continues to be the creation of jobs, which ensures filtration of cash into the rural economic sector to improve living standards.

Export breakthrough

Employment figures indicate that 45% of the labour force in the milling industry is female, with the majority of them either owning the operations or involved in key management positions.

The RIIC sorghum milling technology has not only been disseminated in Botswana but in ten other African countries: Lesotho, Malawi, Mali, Namibia, Senegal, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe. In 1986, the dehuller was awarded first prize among 26 competitors in a development technology competition mounted for technologies from developing countries in Genoa, Italy. The success gained from this competition, has in many ways accentuated the dehuller's takeup capability, both locally and regionally as well.

RIIC's concerted initiative in simplifying the dehuller for local use in rural areas and in other developing countries, signifies a major breakthrough in translating good intentions into actual tangible results.


One of RIIC's most successful innovations is the sorghum dehuller. developed in 1979. This machine, intended primarily as a labour-saving device for women, was awarded first prize in a development technology competition in Genoa, Italy, in 1986 Combined with the hammer mill, the technology has directly contributed to the establishment of many private milling centres throughout Botswana. The net result has been the creation of many jobs for locals. The sorghum milling technology developed by RIIC is meanwhile being exported to ten other African countries. The author describes how the sorghum dehuller works and the social impact of this development.


L'une des innovations les plus reussies du RIIC est le decortiqueur de mil developpe en 1979. Cette machine, essentiellement destinee a faciliter le travail des femmes, a ete primee en 1986 lors d'un concours de technologies du developpement organise a Genes en Italie. Le decortiqueur peut etre exploite commercialement ou a des fins de prestation de senices. Associee a un moulin a marteaux, cette technologie a directement contribue a l'etablissement de nombreux centres de mouture prives au Botswana et indirectement a la creation de nombreux emplois locaux. Cette technologie de mouture du mil, developpee par RIIC, est entre temps exportee dans dix pays africains.


Una de las innovaciones mas exitosas del RIIC es la descascadora de sorgo que fue desarrollada en 1979. La maquina, que pretendia facilitarles el trabajo sobre todo a las mujeres, obtuvo el primer premio en 1986 en un concurso de desarrollo tecnologico que tuvo luger en Genova (Italia). La descascadora puede utilizarse pare operaciones comerciales de senicio. Combinada con el molino de martillos, la tecnologia ha contribuido directamente a establecer numerosos molinos privados en toda Botswana. Gracias a ello se hen creado numerosos puestos de trabajo pare los habitantes locales. Entretanto, la tecnica de molido de sorgo desarrollada por el RIIC es exportada tambien a otros diez paises africanos.