ICT Initiatives primarily focus on Digital Divide, eGovernment, Innovation and Entrepreneurship including:
- Connecting Communities Programme
- Kitsong Centres
- Thuto Net
- Government On-Line
- Botswana Innovation Hub
- BTC Privatisation & Formation of Botswana Fibre Network (BOFINET) company
- Broadband Strategy & Universal Access and Services (UAS)
- Digital Migration
- Pan African e-Network Project
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 to be provided with network coverage under the NTELETSA II telecommunication project. The project was focused on supplying and maintaining network infrastructure in rural areas of Botswana. The project was completed in 2011.
The communities were grouped using 'Logical Zones' based on geography and population. The logical zones were 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. The three mobile telephone service providers; Mascom, Orange and Botswana Telecommunications Cooperation [beMobile] were awarded tenders in the four underserved areas (regional networks).
The Rural Telecommunications Programme targets provision of essential infrastructure services in rural areas. Services include Internet lines, telephones and secretariat services.
Kitsong Centres were initially set up in 2006/2007 as community access centres as one of the Maitlamo ICT Policy Initiatives. Initially Kitsong Centres were set up in each community but there are now c. 149 Kitsong centres across the country. These community access centres provide access to computers, fax, voice services and internet access as well as 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. There are also Botswana Postal Services Telecentres and private telecentres set up as Community initiatives.
The Thuto Net program was an expansive project that incorporates the Schools Connectivity Initiative , to link all secondary schools to the Internet. All secondary schools in Botswana have computer laboratories comprising about 15-20 computers. This initiative was aimed at reducing literacy gaps between students in urban schools and rural schools. To fast track the program, the Department responsible for laying infrastructure worked closely with the Department of Education to train teachers on using ICT as a classroom tool.
The Government of Botswana undertook major service delivery reform programmes aimed at improving service quality. A government web portal with information and e-services was developed to be customer focused making the organizational structure of government more transparent to citizens and business. Some of the Government Ministries have Call Centres for customers to submit and enquire about services through Toll-Free numbers. Call centres provides basic information and services and information about the Ministry and use toll free phones.
The Botswana eGovernment initiative focused on transformation and not just automation. eServices include:
- Mobile-notification include: Drivers Licence expiry notification service, Vehicle flagging and Registration Renewal, Agriculture Business Imports ban notification, Health and HIV & AIDS notifications, Member of Parliament meeting etc
- Cattle brand collection and expiry notification service, Ministry of Agriculture, Internal Funding
- Passport notification services, Ministry of Labour and Home Affairs, Internal Funding
- National Identity notification services, Ministry of Labour and Home Affairs, Internal Funding
- Company Registration Name search feature: firstname.lastname@example.org Ministry of Trade & Industry, Internally Funded
- Trade Permit s & License, Ministry of Trade & Industry, Internally Funding
The Ministry of Agriculture 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.
Ministry of Education and Skills Development provides access to examination results via mobile phone.
The concept to develop the Botswana Innovation Hub (BIH) commenced in 2008 in tandem with development of Botswana's ICT infrastructure and Botswana Excellence Strategy to support economic diversification, job creation and transition to a knowledge economy.
BIH is primarily focused on four sectors through which businesses, research and training can be provided: Information and Communications Technology (ICT), Bio-Technology, Energy and Mineral Technology. It is responsible for stimulating start-ups, providing an enabling environment for investors and developing and managing Botswana's first Science and Technology Park. The development of the National Science Park is due for completion during 2016.
Programmes include the First Steps Venture Centre, Microsoft Innovation Centre, Cleantech and KitsoWorks. BIH is receiving support through the Southern African Innovation Support (SAIS) Programme funded by Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Finland to establish a Global Business Lab and Technology Transfer Office within the University of Botswana; develop a Demand Driven Supply Chain Business Incubation Model; and address youth unemployment and local communities through Living Labs and Training (RLabs Botswana).
BIH is located close to the airport and offers services in the form of office space, land, state of the art telecommunications services, technology transfer services and entrepreneurship development. The Government of Botswana has put tax incentives in place to encourage Foreign Direct Investment.
In 2012 the Government of Botswana embarked on the privatisation of Botswana Telecommunications Corporation (BTC), the incumbent fixed line telecoms operator, which is due to be completed by end of 2014. The company was established in 1980 to provide, develop, operate and manage Botswana's national and international telecommunications services. BTC is a parastatal in which the Botswana government holds 100% equity. BTC was the only telecommunications provider in Botswana until 1996 when an amendment of the Telecommunication Act removed the monopoly of BTC and allowed indirect competition from two cellular companies, Mascom Wireless and Vista Communications (now Orange). Botswana Telecommunications Corporation (BTC) - Implementation of BTC's privatisation commenced immediately after Cabinet approved of a privatisation strategy in June 2006.
The implementation of BTC's privatisation commenced in 2010. The national backbone (Trans Kalahari optic fibre network and Gaborone - Francistown loop) is not included in the privatisation as this is transferred to BoFINet and the Government will continue to deliver developmental programmes such as the rural telecommunications programme (Nteletsa).
During Phase 2 BTC Ltd was separated into two entities - BTC (retail) and BoFINet (wholesale) and the following assets were transferred to BoFiNet:
- All local and national access dark fibres systems
- The newly deployed Dense Wave Division Multiplex (DWDM) system fibre and associated active electronic equipment
- The East African Sea System (EASSY) and West African Cable System (WACS)
BTC launched its IPO in November 2014, whereby the Government of Botswana offered 49% of BTC shares (44% can be bought by individual investors and local firms and 5% is retained for an Employee Share Ownership Programme). The Government plans that the finance raised will support BTC's current network expansion plans.
The development of a five-year Broadband strategy is now at the final stages with the Draft Broadband Strategy being made available in August 2013. The Government of Botswana, through the Ministry of Transport and Communications, had identified broadband as an area requiring special attention to enable of economic growth as being one of the top priorities within the National ICT Policy. The objective is to formulate a strategy that will enable the Botswana Government to transform the economy and society through the adoption and utilization of broadband services. The broadband services should meet the following criteria:
- Nationwide availability and access to all
- Open Access.
- User and Consumer friendliness.
- Choice of broadband services
- Making Botswana a regional ICT Hub.
It is planned that the Kitsong Centres will increase day-to-day access to broadband services.
The Universal Access and Services policy has been under development for some time. BOCRA published a draft Universal Access and Service Fund Manual in April 2014. The vision of the Universal Access and Services Policy is that all Botswana will have Universal service with affordable voice communications and access to Internet and ICT services, regardless of their location within the country.
The digital switchover process is happening all over the world. In South Africa & Europe the target date for completion of digital switch over is 2011 & 2012 respectively. It was agreed at the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) Regional Radiocommunications Conference in 2006 that by 2015 African and European countries should have completed the digital switchover. Botswana Television (BTV) and Gaborone Broadcasting Company (GBCTV) are currently transmitted through analogue transmitters.
In Botswana, a Reference Group was established on 07 February 2008 to kick start the digital switchover/migration process. The Minister of Communication, Science and Technology (MCST) (now Ministry of Transport and Communications) established a Digital Migration Task Force to develop a roadmap on how the country can migrate from analogue to digital television. ISDB-T was chosen after "a thorough process of research and evaluation of available options" comparing DVB-T2 and ISDB-T. The digital migration broadcasting was launched in Botswana in July 2013.
Botswana is a participant in the Pan African e-Network project, which focused on connecting African countries as one network through satellite and fibre optic links for providing electronic and knowledge connectivity. The network primarily provides effective communication and connectivity. It also provides tele-education, tele-medicine and VVIP service. In total the project aimed to inter-connect Universities, Learning Centres, Super Specialty Hospitals and Remote Hospitals in the membership of the e-Network project. Botswana identified 3 Very Small Aperture Terminals [Vsat] Sites comprising a Tele-Education Centre (learning Centre) at the University of Botswana, a Tele-medicine Centre (Patient-end-terminal) at a referral hospital (Nyangabgwe Referral Hospital in the North part of the country and a VVIP Location at the Office of the President.