Friday, July 3, 2020

Budget constraints limits the spread of fibre connectivity – BoFiNet

Botswana Fibre Networks (BoFiNet), a wholesale provider of national and international telecommunication infrastructure decries budget limitations in order to complete its projects on local fibre connectivity.

In an interview with BoFiNet Chief Executive Officer, Mabua Mabua recently, he said due to budgetary constraints they are unable to catch up with the pace to complete the connectivity well on time, hence stalling progress.  “We are not doing at the pace we would want, we had initially intended to have it finished by the next financial year. We are looking for P120million funding to complete connection of Gaborone alone.”

In Gaborone BoFiNet has already covered 50 percent of the plots, and is left with around 2500 both government and commercial premises to complete. In Francistown the project is at 80 percent and 500 premises are complete.

From the 11 localities that have been covered, BoFiNet has spent P292 Million, whilst it still needs P361million to cover all areas left for this undertaking across the country.

Mabua confirmed that, “so far we have done 11 localities, amongst them is; Gaborone Palapye, Selibe Phikwe, Francistown, and Maun. However, Francistown has a worrying uptake of fibre connectivity, as a lot of businesses in Francistown were surviving on the business of Tati Nickel mine which has since shutdown.”

The initial total budget for those localities, which is a number of 41 areas that have a population of over 5 000 was P500million.

For the financial year 2018/19, BoFiNet is expecting the government to inject P232million, which will still fall short to complete the project.

Government has so far invested a total of P701million on the national backbone and local internet access networks in the financial years from 2014-2017. Minister of Transport and Communications, Kitso Mokaila in July 2017 parliament sitting revealed that, government has spent 367million on the backbone projects while on local access, it has invested P334million.

BoFiNet’s strategic outlook is anchored on three themes; national broadband coverage, service and operational excellence and Sustainability. BoFiNet has the potential to spur the creation of an enabling environment for the growth of an ICT industry in the Southern Africa region; through supporting provision of universal service and access to information and communication facilities. This will then increase the knowledge based economy.

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Sunday Standard June 28 – 4 July

Digital copy of Sunday Standard issue of June 28 - 4 July, 2020.