Botswana’s first online video on demand platform has gone live and is expected to be a significant contributor towards commercialisation of the country`s creative and arts industry as well as improve presence in the digital economy.
The platform dubbed “UPICtv” is a home-grown subscription-based streaming service which will host a bouquet of local and international titles and will have a particular focus on locally produced dramas, movies, comedies and continuity programmes.
Giving a keynote address President Mokgweetsi Masisi reiterated that government`s commitment and plans for Botswana’s arts industry are more than mere talk and election gimmickry.
He said: “Through efforts made by BoFinet, Government has created a digital content platform that will showcase Botswana’s storytelling and entertainment through an Internet Protocol Television (IPTV) service. This is an initiative that will help Botswana to transform and diversify her economy through Information and Communication Technologies (ICT). We made a promise to nurture the creative economy to make it a source of economic growth, job creation, innovation and trade, as well as, to expose our arts and culture to international markets.”
“We also made a promise to promote Botswana as a digital society and to push for investments in the digital transformation of our country. I am therefore, pleased to note that the launch of this IPTV is yet another milestone in the fulfilment of these promises. The IPTV platform will be a significant contributor towards the commercialization of the creative and arts industry, as outlined in our country’s Creative Industry Strategy,” Masisi said.
ICT has become a critical tool for the development of any nation because it enhances productivity in all sectors of the economy. President Masisi said “I am informed that this project will unlock unemployment opportunities for nothing less than 5 840 Batswana by its third year of operation and many more through the hospitality, transport and tourism sectors.”
Minister of Transport and Communication Thulaganyo Segokgo shared the journey of the development of the platform.
“BoFiNet has been committed to this project by preparing the technical platforms, engaging the creatives, and preparing for this launch, for a considerable amount of time. This project started in September 2019, when BOFiNET entered into a partnership with Plastique (PTY) LTD, a 100% Botswana owned content aggregator. We are pleased to report that, this project, as indeed most of BOFINEts projects, has been implemented within time, scope and budget,” he said.
The Ministry of Transport and Communication then partnered with BoFiNet in funding the platform deployment and content acquisition and ingestion at total cost over P28 Million.
Bofinet Board Chairperson Pelani Siwawa-Ndai said: “The purpose of the UPICtv project is to avail local video content products that are relevant, diverse, palatable and affordable to both local and international audiences. The scope of the project included the sourcing of the licence to avail the platform to Batswana, content acquisition, integrating the content on the platform, product operation, product packaging, the billing side, and marketing and selling the platform in partnership with licensed service providers. At the start of the IPTV Project implementation in May 2019, we wanted to ensure that we commissioned the best that the country had to offer, with a select number of programmes such as documentaries, series, dramas and comedies, in order to showcase Botswana’s stories to the world at large,” said Segokgo.