Oracle Corporation, a global provider of enterprise cloud computing, has advised Botswana to fully embrace cloud computing and create an enabling environment for business diversification in Botswana to grow in the digital world.
Ricardo Flores, Senior Regional Manager of SADC applications at Oracle, this week said with internet penetration hovering at approximately 28 percent and the number of mobile subscribers showing more than 2,000 percent growth from 2000 to 2011, Botswana is ideally poised to benefit from the opportunities that cloud computing provides.
According to ResearchMoz, a market research firm, effective regulatory reform has turned the Botswana’s telecom market into one of the most liberalised in the region. Botswana still has one of the highest mobile penetration rates in Africa. After a period of stagnation, the number of internet users has risen strongly in recent years, largely the result of lower prices following improvements in international connectivity.
Flores said the Botswana government should remain firm on its commitment to the Public Sector Reforms designed to usher in the digital age, such as the government’s efforts to consolidate services and providing modern and specialised software, as this will result in a better experience for thousands of civil servants.
“In turn, these workers will be empowered to deliver high quality and efficient services that will boost the economic productivity and competitiveness of the country,” he said.
Botswana like most developing countries faces myriad of challenges in relation to connectivity as there is still a significant disparity when it comes to urban and rural access to ICT services. However Flores says this is largely changing thanks in part to fibre and satellite rollouts, which he attributes to an increased public and private sector understanding about the importance of providing reliable access if the country is to compete on a continental level.
At the same time, Flores said Botswana, much like the rest of Africa, should be viewed as a mobile-first environment. He said with undersea cables continuing to link Africa to the rest of the world, connectivity will only improve as costs start to come down and more people have access to ICT solutions. Internet connectivity in Botswana has been criticised for being expensive and unreliable.
Still, Flores is adamant that with proper infrastructure in place, the solutions and services will follow around it. He also added that an increased willingness by organisations across industry sectors to capitalise on the cloud will result in a more competitive environment.
“Already, the private sector led by the financial services industry, retail and mining sectors in Botswana have shown a willingness to embrace technology innovation and utilise it to build momentum in a competitive marketplace,” the Oracle man said. “And then there is the Nteletsa II programme (designed to increase rural access to mobile ICTs), which, according to Research ICT Africa, has been labelled a success in bringing about a more competitive telecommunications environment.”
Flores explained that the adoption of cloud computing is driven by the latest generation of enterprise cloud applications, built on high-end security technologies and based on industry best practices, collaboration tools, mobile apps that enable civil servants to take actions wherever they are using smart phones or tablets, and embedded business intelligence with thousands of reports and dashboards out-of-the-box.
By capitalising on this, Flores says the government will be able to improve the citizen experience, especially the case when it comes to accessing services such as Education, Healthcare, Public Safety, Justice, Immigration, and many others.
“Having access to online storage and backups might seem quant in an age where machine-learning and augmented reality are becoming the norm. However, they present key cornerstones of the cloud journey. In turn, this leads to more cost-effective business solutions, being able to access virtualised offerings, and embracing the likes of Software-as-a-Service and Infrastructure-as-a-Service (and, more recently, Everything-as-a-Service),” he said.
Flores further advised that it is also important to expose the youth to the latest cloud technologies in the early stages of their lives. “This is where education plays a vital role in both urban and rural environments, making it critical for the country to modernise and improve its economic and social competitiveness.”