SHAKAWE: Multitudes of Shakawe residents thronged the village Kgotla on Friday to witness the official completion of works on the Sehithwa-Mohembo fibre network project.
Officially launching the project, Minister of Roads and Transport Tshenolo Mabeo said this was a true reflection of government’s unwavering commitment to improve national broadband connectivity in the country.
“I am extremely elated that my Ministry has fulfilled its promise of delivering the project on time, scope and within budget, and I want to take this opportunity and urge others to follow suit” Mabeo said on Friday.
He said the timely execution of this project should not only be exemplary but should be the benchmark for delivery of all projects meant to benefit citizens of this country. The Minister commended Botswana Fibre Networks (BoFiNet), Complant Botswana and MEPI Joint Venture for a job well done. He said the completion of this project came at the right time when the country has just achieved a major milestone in the listing of the Okavango Delta as the world heritage site.
“This project will improve ICT connectivity and services as many tourists coming to this area will be able to communicate and share the beauty of the delta with families and friends locally, nationally and internationally,” the Minister said. Mabeo said government continues to roll out the national backbone expansion and the expectation is that the private sector will take advantage of this infrastructure to deliver relevant and responsive products and services to the public.
“In promoting their commercial interests, the private sector should recognize that both the profit motive and socio-economic interests are not mutually exclusive, and they must play a pro-active role in ensuring that access to broadband becomes affordable to the public”, said Mabeo in his speech. He further said government expects the communities to benefit significantly due to improved and reduced costs of connectivity. \
The project, which was launched in Gumare in February is said to be in line with government’s Maitlamo ICT Policy, as part of the expansion of the National Fibre Backbone Network. As such Mabeo said he was optimistic that services such as voice and data services should easily be available from the current service providers such as Orange, Mascom and BeMobile.
“With developments and improvements of ICT in this district, we believe that communities will see more service providers and investors now coming to your villages to provide services and investment,” Mabeo told his audience which included among others area Member of Parliament Bagalatia Arone and Shakawe Chief Kea Lempadi.
Mabeo said, “To this end, it is important to note that the mainstreaming of Information and Communications Technology as a critical ingredient to fostering economic growth and diversification remains a key national policy priority. The adoption and implementation of the Maitlamo ICT Policy reflects Government’s continued commitment to the development of a robust ICT eco-system” continued the minister.
The minister also used the occasion to also launch the commencement of the extension of similar optic fibre project in the Okavango region connecting all the villages from Mohembo, crossing the Okavango River, to Kauxwi, Xakao, Ngarange, Sekondomboro, Mogotlho, Seronga, Gunotsoga, Beetsha, Eretsha and Gudigwa with high speed and capacity fibre network which will be delivered by May 2016.
For his part, the acting BOFINET Board Chairman Marvin Torto said government’s ”Maitlamo” (National ICT policy), which was approved by parliament in 2007 has objectives, among others, to guide, coordinate and integrate ICT initiatives in order to turn Botswana into a globally competitive knowledge and information society through effective use of ICT and to achieve social, economic, cultural and political transformation. He said strategies such as the Rural Telecommunications Strategy and the National Broadband Strategy all came from the Maitlamo policy. “These have formed the cornerstone of BOFINET strategy”, said Torto. He said the scope of the project entailed construction of the underground optical fibre cable from Sehithwa to Mohembo, being a distance of 325km. It also entailed surveying, planning, designing, installation and commissioning of the transport network in the route in order to establish connectivity of voice and data traffic to provide services in the respective villages. “Services will be added and dropped in these villages leaving them with the capacity and capability to host high speed access network stations such as 3G and other wireless Technologies”, the acting Board Chairman said in his speech.