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Ministry of Transport and Communications (MTC)
International Telecommunications Union (ITU) Workshop
Speech by Honourable Nonofo Molefhi M.P., Minister of Transport and Communications, on the occasion of the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) workshop on “Using ICT tools for human capital development and capability assessments in the ICT sector”: Gaborone, Botswana; 27-29 May 2013.
It is indeed an honour and a privilege for me to be with you in this workshop on “Using ICT tools for human capital development and capability assessments in the ICT sector”. I must, from the onset, commend the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) for finding the need to convene a workshop that focuses on the use of Information Communications Technologies (ICTs) to improve the management of human capital. Similarly, I should thank the Botswana Communications Regulatory Authority (BOCRA) for hosting the workshop on behalf of Botswana. The differences in the level of ICT development have resulted in the birth of the term Digital Divide which is often used to distinguish the developing from developed nations as well as urban from rural areas. Digital technology or the use of ICTs has ushered in the information age, where economies compete of the basis of the ability of their citizens to access, package and use information to exploit available economic opportunities. It was in recognition of this digital divide that the United Nations assigned the ITU to hold the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS). It is encouraging that some of the developing nations such as Singapore, Malaysia, South Korea and others have managed to leverage on the benefits of ICTs to compete effectively with the developed nations on the global. These countries have demonstrated to the world that ICTs hold a great potential to fast track economic development. While this potential exists, the ITU, the World Economic Forum, the World Bank and many other international organisations continue to release ICT status rankings that place many of our African countries at the bottom end of the table. These rankings teach us that, countries with low levels of ICT development are not able to exploit the many benefits of living in the information age. Director of Ceremonies, this is why I feel that a workshop of this nature is critical for the African Region. It does not require any research evidence to support the fact that our level of ICT development as Africa is lower than that of most regions of the world for reasons known to all of us. On the one hand Africa has inadequate ICT infrastructure development. On the other hand Africa has low ICT skills base. It is therefore critical that as we continue to put more resources in the area of ICT infrastructure development, we should equally intensify our efforts to develop and manage human capital. Therefore, I am encouraged that this workshop is intended to assess the involvement of ICTs in the management of human capital in the communications sector. If there is any sector of the economy that should lead the rest in deploying ICTs to better develop and manage people, it is the communications sector. Botswana has invested in the West Africa Submarine Cable System (WACS) and the East Africa Submarine System (EASSy) which have increased bandwidth capacity and improved connectivity between Botswana and the rest of the world. Government has also invested in a project called NTELETSA that is intended to rollout communications infrastructure to remote communities. Government has also completed the separation of the incumbent operator, the Botswana Telecommunications Corporation (BTC) wholesale business from retail business. The exercise resulted in the establishment of a wholly owned government entity called the Botswana Fibre Networks (BOFiNET) that will sell bandwidth capacity at wholesale level. Government has also developed an e-Government Strategy to improve service delivery. These and many other efforts that government is engaged in are intended to ultimately deliver affordable ICT services to the consumers. However, the benefits of the initiatives I have just mentioned will not be realised without a commensurate effort to develop and better manage ICT human capital. To this end, the University of Botswana has been producing graduates, many of whom are yet to be absorbed by the job market. The number of these graduates is expected to increase following the establishment of the Botswana International University of Science and Technology (BIUST) which opened its doors to 267 students in September 2012 to pursue studies in different fields of Engineering, Science and Technology and applied research. The use of ICTs in developing and managing this labour force will be crucial lest they are lost to the economy. We are indebted to the European Union for funding the establishment of an online Botswana Labour Market Observatory (www.lmo.org.bw) which aims to provide the necessary information to improve the functioning of the labour market by reducing demand and supply mismatches. Let me conclude my remarks by once again acknowledging this workshop will contribute to the achievement of the WSIS action plan in relation to e-Employment which called on member states to: • Encourage the development of best practices for e-workers and e-employers built, at the national level, on principles of fairness and gender equality, respecting all relevant international norms. • Promote new ways of organizing work and business with the aim of raising productivity, growth and well-being through investment in ICTs and human resources. • Promote teleworking to allow citizens, particularly in the developing countries, LDCs, and small economies, to live in their societies and work anywhere, and to increase employment opportunities for women, and for those with disabilities. In promoting teleworking, special attention should be given to strategies promoting job creation and the retention of the skilled working force. • Promote early intervention programmes in science and technology that should target young girls to increase the number of women in ICT carriers. With those few remarks, Director of Ceremonies, Ladies and Gentlemen, I thank for your attention and wish you fruitful deliberations and a successful workshop. Pula!!!
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