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WTISD 2012 Speech
26/05/12
WTISD 2012 Speech
WTISD 2012 Speech

SPEECH BY HON. NONOFO E. MOLEFHI M.P,

MINISTER OF TRANSPORT & COMMUNICATIONS

 

ON WORLD TELECOMMUNICATIONS AND INFORMATION SOCIETY DAY  15 MAY 2012

MABULE VILLAGE  REPUBLIC OF BOTSWANA

1.  Botswana has joined the rest of the international community in the commemoration of the 2012 World Telecommunications and Information Society Day in the village of Mabule in the Borolong Constituency. 

2.  This is where Government kick-started the rural telecommunications project, Nteletsa I, whose objective was to ensure basic telephony connectivity. The project has now been revamped and modernised to ensure that communities in the two areas enjoy services that are available elsewhere in Botswana. 

3.  A month ago, Botswana joined the World in the commemoration of “Girls in ICT Day”.  Speaking at Botho College in Gaborone, Ambassador Michelle Gavin of the United States said, “While there has been great progress by women in ICT in Botswana, there is still a gender gap in positions of science and technology leadership”.  She also stated that Botswana is not alone in this challenge. 

4.  The theme for this year’s World Telecommunications and Information Society Day, “Women and Girls in ICT” recognises the significance that is played by ICTs, which if harnessed properly, can positively influence countless aspects of our lives, particularly women who are the bedrock of any society. 

5.  The theme further recognises that ICTs can help accelerate progress towards the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals.  It was for this reason that the International Telecommunications Union proposed that Governments focussed their efforts on women and girls to empower the female population to achieve its rightful place in society.

6.  Botswana’s ICT aspirations are encapsulated in the Maitlamo policy.  Government’s desire is to see ICTs featuring in Homes and Communities; Agriculture, Healthcare; Education; Government; Legislation; Infrastructure; the Marketplace and others.

7.  Driven by this desire, Government commenced Nteletsa II programme in August 2008 to provide telecommunications services including Kitsong centres to 197 villages.  The programme that included 9 nearby villages of Betesankwe, Thankane, Kanaku, Matasalalo, Molete, Mahotshwane, Khonkhwa, Itholoke and Kutuku in the Southern District was completed in November 2011. 

8.  Government has also invested a lot in improving the Botswana’s connectivity to the outside world through the East Africa Sub-Marine System (EASSy) and the West Africa Cable System (WACS). 

9.  The EASSy cable capacity is already available in Botswana.  Government is currently working on the necessary logistics to make it available to businesses on terms that will result in affordable rates for consumers.  WACS will be available towards the end of this year on terms and conditions similar to those of the East African Cable System.   

10. National Radio coverage is estimated at 85% while National Television coverage is now over 70% following the installation of a total of 88 transmitters for Radio Botswana and 40 transmitters for Botswana Television in 39 villages, including our host, Mabule.

11. Botswana is also in the process of migrating  analogue transmission to digital signals, a move that is intended to free the scarce and finite spectrum for other telecommunications services.  Available standards are being tested to determine the most suitable system.

12. Government has now commenced a project to develop an ICT National Broadband Strategy (NBS) that will provide a holistic and coordinated approach to an ICT broadband ecosystem. Work has already started with a completion target date of April 2013.

13. All this ICT infrastructure development will amount to nothing unless our implementation drive is comprehensive.  The e-Government  Office has a detailed implementation plan that is intended to coordinate all Government efforts on this agenda.  Fortunately Cabinet recently approved and tasked the Ministry of Transport and Communications with the implementation of the e-Government strategy. 

14. The Government e-portal has experienced exponential growth in traffic, a sign that more and more Batswana are beginning to rely on the portal for information.  Allow me to state here that by the middle of March this year, the Botswana E-Portal was ranked number 28 in the World and the 2nd after Egypt in terms of gross traffic, well ahead of countries with far higher populations.

15. I should be careful not to give the impression that ICTs are perfect.  As with everything manmade, ICTs bring with them their own challenges, one of which is the increasing fear that Electromagnetic Fields or radiation propagated by mobile phones and their base stations might be harmful to human health. 

16. These concerns are not only unique to Botswana but global in nature.  Experts from international Organisations such as the World Health Organisation (WHO), the International Association on Cancer Research (IACR), the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) and others are closely monitoring these concerns. 

 17. Their position thus far is that there is no evidence to suggest that radiation from mobile phones is harmful to human health.  The Botswana Telecommunications Authority has also acquired spectrum analysers to periodically check if base stations in the country operate within the set technical parameters.

 18. Also worth noting is the challenge of cybercrime that computers, smart phones and the Internet bring to our daily lives.  With the advent of the Internet, we now find ourselves dealing with new types of international cybercrime such as child pornography, financial fraud, identity fraud and even terrorism. 

 19. While we encourage the use of ICTs, it is important to closely monitor how they are being used especially by our gullible children.  Just as you sometimes come across age restricted programmes on television, the same can be difficult to monitor because of the personal nature of the computers and mobile phones used to access them.

20. Some of the challenges include cable theft and vandalism that I am sure you have seen their demonstration on the Botswana Police television programme – Itshireletse. 

21. Ladies and Gentlemen, my Ministry has in the past consulted Batswana on Government’s intention to privatise Botswana Telecommunications Corporation (BTC).  The project is on course. 

 22. We are currently engaged in discussions with experts who are considering various approaches of privatising a huge entity such as the BTC.  The intention is to ensure that national interests are protected in this process.

23. In conclusion Ladies and Gentlemen,  WTISD 2012  was an honour and privilege for me to be with you on this day when for a change we had  an opportunity to take our focus off the erection of  towers, the digging of trenches for optic fibre cables and pulling submarine cables across oceans.  

24. WTISD 2012 grants us time to reflect on our past, appreciate the present and look forward into the future of our women who have made strides and continue to make so in ICTs.  It was time to forget a bit about hardwares and softwares to exclusively focus on social issues affecting the ICT industry.  

 

25. There is a story about Rodger Bannister who started his running career in 1946 at the age of 17. He was selected as an Olympic "possible" in 1948 but declined as he felt he was not ready to compete at that level. He was further inspired to become a great miler by watching the 1948 Olympics. He set his training goals on the 1952 Olympics when he participated but did not do well, after which he contemplated to stop or continue running.  He later set a new record for himself, to be the first man to run a mile in under four minutes. He intensified his training. In 1954 Bannister became the first man to run a mile in less than 4 minutes. After this achievement, many more people were then able to run a mile in less than 4 minutes.

26. There might be some amongst our young girls and women who still believe that only boys and men can succeed in the field of ICTs, but we know that it is not true because other women have succeeded in the past and continue to succeed in ICTs. Our desire is that you may succeed too. 

27. As Ambassador Michelle Gavin said on “Girls in ICT Day”, that “One of the most inspiring successes is Doreen Ramphaleng-Motlaleng, the Managing Director of Informatix, a software technology company in Gaborone.  The African ICT Achievers Awards Board named Doreen Ramphaleng-Motlaleng as the top ICT Business woman in 2009 and listed her among the ten ICT women in Africa.

28.  Other great examples of female leadership in technology are found at Botswana Life, Botswana Telecommunications Corporation, Mascom Wireless and Orange Botswana, to quote the Ambassador.

29. Still fresh in our minds, though in a different field is a female sprinter from Mabudutsa ward in Maun, who specialises in 400 metre events.  Who ever thought that a young Lady from Botswana would become the Gold Winner in World Championships, African Championships, the Commonwealth Games and All-Africa Games.

30. With this parting shot Ladies and Gentlemen, I make my call from the village of Mabule to all young Girls and Women in Botswana to embrace Information Communication Technologies.  Just like Amantle Montsho, you can become champions in the Industry.

 31.             Thank you for your patience.

PULA

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