Botswana-Rutgers Mahube Partnership for Transformation

A Unique Partnership between a Nation and a University

An innovative collaboration addresses leadership, capacity-building, and knowledge transfer

Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, and the Government of Botswana signed a broad agreement to launch the Botswana-Rutgers Mahube Partnership for Transformation in February 2019. (Mahube means “new dawn” in Botswana’s local Setswana language.) This collaboration represents a unique effort between a nation and a university to address leadership, capacity-building, and knowledge transfer, as the Republic of Botswana transforms from its dependence on natural resources into a more knowledge-based economy. For Botswana, driving forces for the Partnership are national development and economic diversification. 

Several units within Rutgers are playing a key role in the Partnership, including the Rutgers Global Health Institute, the Rutgers Center for Organizational Leadership, and Rutgers Global. Former Rutgers President Robert Barchi formalized the partnership with Botswana President Eric Masisi following mutual international visits that each led.  

Botswana Global Health Institute image

Rutgers Global Health Institute

In August 2018, the Rutgers Global Health Institute (RGHI) engaged with Botswana leadership, including the Ministry of Health and Wellness and the University of Botswana, to identify global health partnership opportunities. Through these efforts, Rutgers University established a memorandum of understanding with the University of Botswana to help advance the national program in cancer care and prevention; create joint research and training programs to improve cancer care and prevention; create local, subspecialty medical and health professions training programs; and expand national health care capacity and advise in the commissioning of Sir Ketumile Masire Teaching Hospital, the new academic teaching hospital in Botswana. The Rutgers Global Health Institute is led by Dr. Richard Marlink, who has been involved in leading HIV/AIDS-related initiatives with Botswana for over two decades.

More recently, the Botswana-Rutgers Partnership for Health has incorporated a new initiative, supporting Botswana’s response to COVID-19.

Botswana Image for Organizational Leadership

Rutgers Center for Organizational Leadership

Another signature program of the Mahube partnership is the Botswana-Rutgers Leadership Summit and Executive Leadership Development Program, led by Brent Rubin and Ralph Gigliotti of the Rutgers Center for Organizational Leadership.

A Summit held in May 2019 and hosted at Rutgers served as the first phase in advancing the leadership training and development goals of the partnership. In December 2019, a second delegation of 16 senior government officials from Botswana participated in a 7-day residential program at Rutgers designed to enhance leadership competencies and capabilities. In partnership with Rutgers Global, the Rutgers Center for Organizational Leadership continues to lead the design, coordination, and facilitation of the program, which is a central component of the collaborative relationship being developed between The Government of the Republic of Botswana and Rutgers.

Botswana Rutgers Global image

Rutgers Global

Rutgers Global is now helping coordinate various University initiatives of the Botswana-Rutgers Mahube Partnership. Rutgers Vice President for Global Affairs, Eric Garfunkel, leads Rutgers Global, and has been involved with research exchanges with BITRI (the Botswana Institute for Technology Research and Innovation) for 5 years. In 2017, he helped organize the biennial African Materials Research Society STEM conference in Gaborone, Botswana with over 500 people participating. BITRI is an autonomous parastatal national laboratory tasked with helping to convert Botswana’s economy from one in which extractive industries dominate (diamonds are Botswana’s leading export) to a more advanced one in which raw materials are processed into advanced products and the knowledge industry expands greatly (e.g., Africa-relevant apps for education, health, agriculture, business, transportation, and energy).

The rapid development of online/internet technologies forced upon all by the COVID-19 pandemic has greatly increased the ability for Rutgers and Botswana partners to communicate without the requirement of travel. Current plans are to grow specific partnerships with the University of Botswana and other leading educational institutions in Botswana.