The agreement was signed recently at Ben-Gurion University in Beersheba between University President Prof. Rivka Carmi and Acting Vice Chancellor of Botswana International University of Science and Technology Steven Howell.
Under the terms of the agreement, Ben-Gurion University will be in charge of the fields of teaching and research at the Botswana International University of Science and Technology, which is currently at its foundation stages.
Botswana has been looking into the option of establishing its second university for several years. The goal was to create an institution which would focus on science and technology with an emphasis on implementation in desert conditions, as the desert covers 80% of the country.
The program's implementation was delayed due to the global financial crisis, which was especially reflected in the diamond industry – the lion's share of the country's income. In addition, the Africans found it difficult to locate experts to help them create a suitable curriculum.
After Botswana's honorary consul recommended the option of Ben-Gurion University to the country's education minister, the latter was invited by the Foreign Ministry to visit Israel several months ago.
The minister, Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi, was impressed by what she saw and asked Israel to lead the move, both in terms of content and construction.
The minister signed a memorandum of understandings with Israeli Education Minister Gideon Sa'ar focusing on the academic content which would be provided by Ben-Gurion University. In addition, a major Israeli company with operations in Africa has expressed an interest in building the physical structure.
According to Dan Shaham of the Foreign Ministry's Africa Division, "Some 250 students will be selected to begin their studies in the coming months. More and more students and more and more subjects will be added gradually, until it becomes a real university."
Ben-Gurion University will be paid for its services, but more importantly – it will receive prestigious recognition as of one of the world's leading institutions in desert studies.