Wednesday, October 28, 2020

BOFINET pegs Botswana’s fibre network infrastructure bill at P300 million

BY CEDRIC SWANKA

The cost of an ongoing rollout of a network providing connectivity between Botswana’s cities, towns and major villages and linking them to the international connectivity is estimated to have reached P300 million.

Through the Botswana Fibre Networks (BOFINET) said to date, the Government is said to have spent 300 million to deploy the much needed infrastructure. The national backbone fibre network is the Government’s effort to improve connectivity countrywide.

The projects were deployed as part of NDP 10. The deployment of the National Backbone projects began in the 2014/15 Financial Year, and is currently on its third year of implementation. He continued

The Botswana Fibre Networks Ltd was established to be a separate organization responsible for the provision of national and international telecommunication by the Government.

Innocent Molato – Public relations and marketing officer at BOFINET said this week that the project vision is to take steps towards making the country globally competitive and to provide connectivity to the National broadband infrastructure.

“This project entails deploying underground national backbone optical fibre infrastructure countrywide”, Molato said.

The National Backbone fibre network also aim to address the challenges with respect to internet connectivity, particularly the bandwidth. Network connectivity is a major enabler of business and development as a whole, hence the heavy investment into its deployment and maintenance. He highlighted

Quizzed on what kind of technologies they have chosen to use during the implementation of this project, he shared that the preferred medium of connectivity is fibre, due to its ability to provide faster, more stable connectivity, whose service quality is better compared to microwave, radio or copper.

Since BOFINET was established to be the project implementation body for the government’s strategic projects, BOFINET has been playing the role of Project Manager for the projects.

“Our organisational structure works well because it attempts to make the most of innovation from the project teams whilst ensuring operational continuity. BOFINET has been managing and supervising such projects through its dedicated Project Management Office, which were established in 2014”, said Molato.

Regardless of the high expenditure experienced by Government on Information and Communication Technology (ICT) infrastructure development, there are some setbacks that remain present. Molato revealed that despite large investments made in rolling out ICT infrastructure and services, there has been very low response by Internet Service Providers (ISPs).

Molato said so far feedback received from consumers (end users) is that they still experience slow/poor internet connectivity.

“This hinders public consumption of internet through Wi-Fi. Content sourcing remains a challenge, as content has traditionally been sourced from outside the country.”, he continued

However there are plans in motion by BOFINET to try and mitigate some of the challenges around internet and connectivity in Botswana, as Molato shared that BOFINET has resulted in open discussions between consumers and ISPs on they can benefit from the network, and well as how their services can be improved.

BOFINET plans to engage key stakeholders i.e. ISPs on issues around low uptake. This was begun during last year 2018 and continuing through to 2019, where end users and ISPs were engaged through a series of seminars aimed at educating them of how BOFINET’s products and services work. As well as how they can engage their ISPs for the betterment of their service provision.

Since inception, this project is said to have given consumers access to a large choice of interactive applications, such as video conferencing, E ÔÇô Government, e ÔÇô Health, e ÔÇô Commerce, Business Application, Video-on-demand, teleworking.

Coupled with the National Backbone is the Local Access projects, which aims to provide connectivity to customers at their premises to provide broadband connectivity through mediums such as fibre and copper.

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