Internet is a basic necessity in today’s economic order. In today’s world, access to the internet is directly linked to levels of literacy. This was said by Leader of Opposition (LOO) in Parliament, Duma Boko in his response to the budget speech.
“That is why a growing number of countries relate unavailability of the internet to illiteracy,” said Boko.
However, he lamented limited access to internet in Botswana, saying internet is still considered a luxury that is reserved for those with money. Boko said technology changes and improves lives as well as being a positive catalyst for economic investments.
He added that the use of technology enhances resilience among citizens and enterprises alike, instilling entrepreneurship and increasing economic efficiency. “Technology supports growth and thus creates employment. It is regrettable that not enough has been done to make Botswana a technology based economy.”
He therefore promised that given an opportunity his party will invest heavily in making high speed internet accessible to all citizens.
“The internet will not only become faster, it will also become cheaper. We take the firm view that access to the internet is a basic right of every citizen or inhabitant of Botswana. Our government will ensure that no family is left outside the internet age simply because they are poor,” said Boko.
He said he will achieve this by ensuring connectivity to the internet broadband without regard to the economic status of families or individuals. He added that all this is achievable not least because his government is aware of the enormous potential that access to the internet can unlock among individuals, communities and societies.
“Many companies have relocated their head offices to Johannesburg because they need high speed to internet connectivity and broad band. This is a loss for Botswana. Providing access to the internet is a basic economic undertaking that we value immensely. We will invest in new broad band across the country as a way of creating more efficient linkages between the urban and rural communities.” Boko further said the root of inefficiency inside government can easily be traced to the fact that there has been capital underinvestment, misallocation and mismanagement on ICT. He said the government’s failure, refusal or reluctance to embrace technology is one of the reasons it has remained detached from the people. “The rest of the world has long accepted that embracing technology brings governments closer to the people.”
He said the current administration has only paid lip service to the issue of e-government. Boko said the huge amounts of money previously allocated toward e-government have been misspent largely through corruption. “The result is that government departments are still run much the same way they were over twenty years ago,” he said, adding “It confounds the most elementary understanding as to why, in this day and age payments to government cannot be done through such facilities as credit cards and mobile technology. This would greatly improve the turnaround time for service delivery.”
He said the opposition’s proposals will only be possible after they overhaul the current network that is keeping Botswana away from becoming a modern ICT led economy.