In 2009, the then Minister of Communications Science and Technology Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi held the first ground-breaking ceremony of the first Kitsong Centre.
Eight years later, powered by the mobile phone network Mascom, there are 105 Kitsong centres across the country. Thursday night saw the celebration of the initiative as Mascom hosted the annual Kitsong Centre awards.
Mascom Board Chairperson Carter Morupisi explained that: “In response to an ICT gap experienced across the country, Mascom found it fit to partner with the Government of Botswana to start the Mascom Kitsong Centre, the founding rationale and vision of the Mascom Kitsong Centre was therefore to provide internet and online facilities to villages that had been electrified by government under Nteletsa II.”
A total of 10 young entrepreneurs were awarded from all over the country, seeing as this move improves the livelihood of the youth Mascom is determined to continue with it, investing over P25 million.
Regarding the use and operations of the Kitsong Centre, Mascom Chief Information Systems officer, Lilly Sullivan stated: “Kitsong centre, also referred to as Telecentre are multipurpose community access points equipped to provide services such as internet access, business secretarial services, simcard provision, airtime top up, mobile money sales as well basic computer courses.
“Based on the needs of their communities some operators have introduced other services such as registration of cattle, photography, and some assist with government social grants.”
Sullivan further explained that the primary mandate of the project was to create jobs for the youth, train and empower them with ICT and business management skills, promote self-reliance through entrepreneurship and to provide universal access to ICT services.
The 10 villages which were awarded centres were Sefophe, Mmadinare, Bobonong, Serule, Kopong, Tumasera, Malaka, Molapowabojang, Masunga and Otse.
To the awardees Morupisi implored them to keep their business afloat by nurturing it and ultimately growing it in order to grow personally and create employment.
According to Sullivan, over the past eight years, Mascom has managed to create 121 jobs, trained 300 unemployed youth and enabled thousands of ICT-based transactions in rural Botswana through the centres.