The Commonwealth family need to address some of the emerging challenges on e- government, such as infrastructure, connectivity, legislative framework, digital divide, security and privacy as well as inter operability, said Botswana Vice President Mompati Merafhe.
“Basic infrastructure should take advantage of new technology and communications tools, while the capacity of bandwidth, for both intra and internet, need to be addressed,” he said.
Merafhe highlighted that laws in the different countries must be updated to recognize electronic documents and transactions, while the gap between people who do not have access to the internet and those who do not have should be closed.
He appealed to the Commonwealth family to have a better understanding of ICT in order to foster the political legal and institutional conditions under which it would flourish. Merafhe said there is need to protect the privacy of citizens, personal information stored in databases while making effective use of the information contained in them.
“Security breaches on citizen’s information can shatter public trust,” he said.
Merafhe said there is great potential to improve health and education sectors through ICT, saying that “many problems in the developing economies health and education sectors stem from lack of information.”
In addition, he said member countries should come up with strategies for digital inclusion, which will help accelerate the pace at which member states deliver on the millennium development goals, particularly on the continued efforts to bridge digital divide.
“We need to promote a competitive telecommunications industry educate people on information and communications technology,” he said.
Merafhe, however, hailed the existence of cordial and mutually beneficial bilateral agreements between Botswana and some Commonwealth members in ICT sector.
“We expect to have a one stop shop that will ultimately enable us to provide exceptional, integrated and automated government services,” he said.
To date, Botswana has about 197 rural communities which are connected. He said Botswana is in the process of developing a national broadband strategy to ensure that the people are provided with quality and adequate connection at their homes and workplace
“We are ready for global players who are looking for investment opportunities in Botswana in ICT.”
Merafhe pointed out that Botswana has established hubs to coordinate development processes in mining, health, education, agriculture and innovation.
“The shift offers us an opportunity to leapfrog intermediate stages of development by avoiding costly investments in time, resources and generation and use of knowledge,” he said.