Africa has seen the ruin that resource riches can bring. In cities like Luanda in Angola and the South African metropolis of Johannesburg, glimmering corporate headquarters are often surrounded by shantytowns; sometimes the office towers themselves are abandoned once the commodities run out.

 The nation of Botswana is trying not to fall deeply into that trap. Its economy relies heavily on diamond mining —  it’s the home of the Jwaneng open-pit mine, the world’s richest, which is run jointly with the U.K.-based De Beers Group. But the government is acutely aware that diamond mining is not forever. Unemployment and income inequality are a growing concern in this country of about 2.3 million people. Botswana doesn’t dig up the number of carats it used to, and has set out to lure new investment beyond the minerals sector, which accounts for 80% of the nation’s export earningsand is the biggest single contributor to government revenue. To do that, it’s turning to an economic development tool familiar to cities around the globe — a technology and innovation hub, housed in a striking new signature building. 
 Designed by the New York-based architecture firm SHoP, the $60 million Icon Building, which largely makes up the state-run Botswana Innovation Hub’s science and technology park, is among the most expensive government-funded structures built since Botswana’s independence from the U.K. in 1966. Seen from the air as one flies into the capital city, Gaborone, it’s tough to spot — the building boasts what is unofficially the largest green roof in the region, according to SHoP, but in this semi-arid climate the foliage is usually more earthen in tone. Only at surface level does the stratified, low-slung structure come into focus, emerging from the ground like something from the cover of a Frank Herbert sci-fi novel.
 Botswana has a lot riding on the project, which has already taken in tenants ahead of an expected completion in May. As in many African states, the nation’s infrastructure, technology and policy gaps require “disruptive solutions,” as the World Bank said in a 2017 report it co-authored on the concept of leapfrogging — something Africa accomplished with the mass adoption of mobile phone technology, skipping landlines altogether. “Squarely focusing on uncovering investment opportunities that could reduce the distance to the technology frontier should therefore be the starting point in thinking about African development,” the paper’s authors concluded.