Tuesday, September 28, 2021

BTCL hands assets to BoFiNet

Botswana Fibre Network (BoFiNet) this week received the newly deployed Dense Wave Division Multiplex system, including hardware, software, licenses, supporting contracts, network equipment, spares and vehicles used to deploy the network.

Botswana Telecommunication Corporation Limited (BTCL) also handed over to BoFiNet the East Africa Sea System (EASSy) and West Africa Cable System (WACS) rights and obligations plus backhaul links connecting systems through Telkom Namibia and Telkom South Africa.

Among other assets, BTC also handed over all supporting supplier agreements that enable end-to-end connectivity of the international links, such as the Global Switch co-location agreement, Master Services Agreement and Djibouti Telecom Master Services Agreement.

In an interview, BoFiNet Board Chairman Ratsela Mooketsi said the transfer of assets is not an event but a process adding that other assets will be transferred as time goes on. He said the newly transferred core assets BoFiNet needs to run its business with.

He added that BoFiNet is expected to improve competitiveness in the downstream telecommunications market and confidence from wholesale customers that BoFiNet acts in their interest.

“BoFiNet works towards acquiring to facilitate increase and demand for broadband connectivity. We will ensure affordability of internet and broadband to end users, which is expected to grow significantly due to increased internet accessibility to rural areas,” said Mooketsi.

He pointed out that their mandate is to serve one of the pillars of vision 2016 which is to create a knowledgeable, educated and informed nation adding that they intend to position Botswana as an ICT Hub in Africa to provide and manage network infrastructure.

“The slight delay was due to completing the assets audit and we launched even before the assets were handed over to us,” he said.

BTCL Managing Director, Paul Taylor revealed that in August 2010, government approved a strategy that involved, among other things the establishment of a separate entity to manage and operate long distance transmission networks. He added that such service was and until recently has been provided by Botswana Telecommunications Corporation, established by an Act of Parliament in 1980.

“The complete process entails registration of Bofinet, establishment of BoFiNet as an operating entity, separation of certain assets, and finally privatisation of BTCL which was last year transitioned from the old BTC to BTCL, a company operating under the Companies Act and limited by shares,” said Taylor.

He pointed out that the intention is to list 49 percent of BTCL shares on the Botswana Stock Exchange in 2014.

He added that for the new company, to be fully operational, certain assets and capabilities need to be transferred from BTCL to the new BoFiNet entity. Taylor said BTCL has also supported BoFiNet’s network development including travel to London for configuration changes and Joint business readiness testing.

“BTCL continues to support BoFiNet whilst it builds its own capabilities by providing certain services to BoFiNet under a Managed Services Agreement,” said Taylor.

He is of the view that Information Communication Technology is a proven socio-economic enabler adding that it is critical that developing countries like Botswana are not left behind as the world moves towards a single knowledge based society.

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