Over the past few years a number of ICT projects have been launched to provide more accessible services. A short description is provided below in relation to the following initiatives:
- Connecting Communities Programme
- Kitsong Centres
- Thuto Net
- Government On-Line
- Botswana Innovation Hub
- eHealth initiatives
This Programme is focused on providing demand driven information relevant to the needs and conditions of the local people. With the purpose of connecting communities in rural, remote and urban communities with affordable and accessible computer and Internet services, 197 communities were identified for the program. The communities are serviced under the fast tracked telecommunication project NTELETSA II. The aim of the project is to supply, install, commission, and carry out operation and maintenance of network infrastructure in rural areas of Botswana.
The communities are grouped using 'Logical Zones' as a telecommunication deployment network. Logical zones were developed by grouping communities together based on geography and population. The logical zones have further been divided into regional networks or "underserved areas" to provide an economy of scale; the larger the area the greater the business that will allow operators to prosper and grow. This consolidation of logical zones resulted in the creation of 4 underserved areas. To this end, three mobile telephone service providers; Mascom, Orange and Botswana Telecommunications Cooperation [beMobile] have been awarded tenders in the four underserved areas (regional networks).
The Rural Telecommunications Programme targets provision of essential infrastructure services in rural areas. This is part of government's obligation to integrate people into the economic and social development of the nation. The services include Internet lines, and telephones, and in 2006/7 Community Access Centers (CAC) were initiated. The CAC serve as a gate-way to the Internet and access to other services in the rural areas. The Community Access Centers (CAC) code-named Kitsong Centers are located in the following areas; Letlhakeng in the western part of the country to provide services to areas in the proximity of Central Kgalagadi Game Reserve and areas on the fringes of the rural Kweneng region. The CAC at Hukuntsi serves the areas within the Kgalagadi areas. Gumare in the north serves areas around the Okavango and the entire northern part of the country. At the moment 35 centers across the country are functional and an additional 25 centers are being set up.
In a nutshell all CAC will provide access to a range of on-line information including: local and community information, business information services, government information and services such as school registration, birth certificates, livestock tracking and passport applications.
While this may be ambitious, already several programs are 'hatching'. The Ministry of Communication, Science and Technology launched a project known as i-Partnership. This is a computer ownership project for government employees and unemployed youth to buy computers using government scheme. Employees are encouraged to buy computers at reduced cost to be able to take work home or 'work from home'. Several applications for the scheme have been processed. There is also a website which is operational for applicants to use to access the service.
The Thuto Net program is an expansive project that incorporates the Schools Connectivity Initiative, to link all secondary schools to the Internet. At the moment 104 secondary schools through out the country have access to the Internet and the program is rolling out to other secondary schools.
All secondary schools in Botswana have computer laboratories comprising about 15-20 computers. This initiative is aimed at reducing literacy gaps between students in urban schools and rural schools. To fast track the program, the Department responsible for laying out the infrastructure is working together with the Department of Education to train teachers on using ICT as a classroom tool.
A similar initiative will be rolled out to primary schools through a program of refurbishing computers used in government departments with appropriate programs for primary schools. This initiative is believed to provide opportunities for private sector to ensure support and maintenance of the equipment.
The Government of Botswana is undertaking major service delivery reform programmes aimed at improving service quality. A government web portal with information and e-services has been developed. The portal is customer focused making the organizational structure of government more transparent to citizens and business. E-Government represents a radically new way for government to interact with its constituents, clients and partners. The portal extends the "reach" of government and provides everyone with access to information and services, from virtually any location and at any time [NICT Policy 2007]. In addition, all government services that are appropriate for on-line delivery will be available over the Internet. Driver's licenses are accessible at all government Road Transport Offices and Depot across the country.
The Ministry of Agriculture has developed a Livestock Identification and Trace-back System to maintain a record of all the cattle in the country, and also track the exposure level of each animal to contagious diseases. The system uses data from other Government department like the National citizen identification system for identifying cattle owners.
The Botswana Innovation Hub comes at a time when Botswana's ICT infrastructure is fast developing. Botswana Innovation Hub is responsible for stimulating start-ups and providing enabling environment for investors. Technology driven and knowledge intensive industry, researchers, higher education and the ICT industry, are provided forum to interact together to foster innovation and new business. The success of these projects depends on good infrastructure.
The innovation hub has proposed sectors through which businesses, research and training could be explored. These areas include Information and Communications Technology (ICT), Bio-Technology, Energy and Mineral Technology. The BIH is located near the airport and will offer services in the form of office space, land and state of the art telecommunications services.
Several e-health activities taking place in Botswana include the following;
- installation of local area network (LAN) and Wide Area Network (WAN) in 22 facilities
- Integrated Patient Management System (IPMS) at four sites that are strategically identified including the only referral hospital
- Warehouse Management System (WMS) at Central Medical Stores to manage the procurement and distribution of drug supply
- MASA system in some hospitals and clinics to manage HIV/AIDS patient information where IPMS has not been implemented
- Blood management System (BMS) in the two cities to manage inventory and distribution of blood
- Website for the Ministry Head-Quarters to inform the public on the objectives and performance of the ministry
- The health Professionals Registration System which will maintain a database of all health practitioners and professionals in the country
- Tele-medicine using radiology between distant hospitals with the main hospital in the city which will facilitate online services to low level facilities
- District Health Information System to provide aggregated health information from health districts
- Library Management System for Institutes of health Science (IHS) and provision of Internet services to students.
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