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Ministry of Transport and Communications (MTC)
East Africa Submarine System
05/04/11
We are indeed experiencing an exciting time in ICT with coming to live of EASSy in Botswana.

 

 

 

 

                  OFFICIAL OPENING SPEECH FOR THE MINISTER OF    

                         TRANSPORT AND COMMUNICATIONS 

                  

 

HON. FRANK RAMSDEN 

 

 

EASSy LAUNCH,

 

 

GABORONE INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE CENTRE

 

22nd FEBRUARY 2011

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Director of Ceremony

Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Transport and Communication, Mr Mabua Mabua

BTC Board Chairperson, Mr Leonard Makwinja

BTC Board members

BTC Group Acting CEO, Mr Keabetswe Segole

Senior Government officials

Chief Executive Officers

Captains of Industry

BTC Executive Management

Distinguished Guests

Ladies and gentlemen

Good Evening

 

It is a great pleasure for me, my ministry and for Batswana in general to officially launch EASSy services and products to an audience that includes so many of those that play major roles in the changing landscape of telecommunications and ICT.

 

We are indeed experiencing an exciting time in ICT with coming to live of EASSy in Botswana. The Government has partnered with Botswana Telecommunication Corporation to bring ultra-fast broadband to Botswana.

 

Government invested P69.7 million in EASSy to help close the digital divide and bring services closer to people. With such an investment, Government is hopeful that ICT services will eventually reach all corners of Botswana at a minimal cost to the average end user

 

EASSy is an undersea fibre cable connecting countries along the east coast of Africa (Sudan, Djibouti, Somalia, Kenya, Tanzania, Mozambique and South Africa).

 

This will provide high quality fibre networks to interconnect African countries among themselves and the rest of the world and in the process make business transactions faster and cheaper.

 

The project, completed in August 2010, is now ready to carry commercial traffic and in my view it will provide an increased scope for investment and job creation.

 

 

This has profound significance not only to you the business community but eventually to all people of this country from Chobokwane to Beetsha.

 

 ICTs as a socio economic enabler have an impact on livelihoods of the people and they do make a difference either for social or business purposes. 

 

The Government has made an undertaking through the Maitlamo Policy to take ICT services to the people and also to meet the aspirations of Botswana as espoused in the Vision 2016 pillars of an innovative, informed and educated nation. 

 

Ladies and gentlemen, Government has made an undertaking to roll out ICT services to the population where they live, play and study. We want to ensure that Botswana has a skilled and productive workforce that is digitally literate.

 

Provision of Government services in electronic form or e-Government, has also become essential for the efficiency and effectiveness of the public service

 

 

 

Government has always put emphasis on the need for economic growth and eradication of poverty. This requires a blend of initiatives ranging from opening additional opportunities for employment and income generation.

 

Ladies and gentlemen, our economy is still largely dependent on the mining sector which calls for more concerted effort by both the Government and yourselves to diversify the economy.

 

In that regard with EASSy, education, health and the business sector will gain from this connectivity. Telecommunications and ICT, no doubt greatly improve the economic and commercial activities of any country, improve the effectiveness of social and emergency services and help distribute social, cultural and economic benefits more equitably.

 

Access to telecommunications and ICT, especially the Internet, can no longer be viewed as a luxury for the rich and privileged; it is now an important part of all people’s lives whether in the urban or rural areas.

 

Telecommunications and ICT access is a must-have for every world citizen. Currently Internet penetration in the country is at a paltry 5 percent and in today’s knowledge based society and economy, these are worrying statistics.

 

However, my ministry is committed to making ICT services affordable and as a sign of that commitment, two weeks back through Botswana Telecommunications Authority, service providers were directed to reduce their tariffs.

 

Ladies and gentlemen, let me once again emphasise that in recognition that telecommunications and development of associated infrastructure is a catalyst for growth and improved communications, investment in the sector has become a priority for the Government.

 

I recently returned from Namibia to witness the launch of the West Africa Cable System (WACS) where Botswana is again participating in a joint venture with Namibia r for the development of undersea cables that will give the two countries alternative connectivity on the West Coast linking the country with Europe.

 

The P250.5 million project connecting countries along the west coast of Africa from South Africa to the United Kingdom via Portugal will be ready for commercial service in January 2012. It is envisaged that by 2016 all communities are to be connected by high speed access.

 

Bagaetsho, I would like to reiterate that, these initiatives will enable Botswana to have high capacity, high quality, diversified and affordable international communication services, thus open doors for growth of the service sector. It is envisaged that these infrastructural projects will support economic activity and international competitiveness.

 

Recently in the budget Speech, The Minister of Finance and Development Planning, Mr Kenneth Mathambo highlighted that to further accelerate economic diversification, Government has introduced a number of policies and programmes that among others include the introduction in April 2010 of the Economic Diversification Drive (EDD), aimed at supporting private sector growth and development including the service sectors of the domestic economy. The success of these initiatives will depend a great deal on affordable internet connectivity.

 

Telecommunications and ICT bagetsho is vital not only for the growth of our economy but also plays a pivotal role in its diversification. Let me point out that quality of service is also an important aspect and it includes minimizing outages and faults, as well as the ability to expand in order to meet new demands from customers.

 

In conclusion let me once again reassure you that Government is committed to investing in infrastructure development and partnering with the private sector to drive this country forward and beyond.

 

I want to also commend BTC and the Global Connectivity Team for delivering the project. However, you will agree with me that a project of this magnitude is bound to experience some delays.

 

Construction of the project, which was initiated in January 2003, started in March 2008 and was completed in April 2010 with the cable reaching Botswana in August .  

 

As a parting shot, the privatization of BTC is in full swing. I assure you that the Government will ensure that the privatization is structured in such a manner so that the inheritance, rights and ownership of Batswana are protected.

 

Thank you

 

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