The minister of Communications, Science and Technology, Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi, has warned foreign contractors doing the Botswana Telecommunications Corporation (BTC) Trans-Kalahari Project against bringing their own stuff to do simple duties at the expense of local communities residing near the areas of construction.
Venson implored all contractors on the project to remain alert to the expectation of government that communities in the vicinity of the projects be given priority of employment opportunities. The Trans-Kalahari project, which has been sub divided into three parts, has been awarded to Dimension Data, Com-plant and Reteng Mic, all of which are reputable companies in the ICT sector.
“There is no need to bring a messenger or cleaner from Gaborone when you can easily find cleaners and labourers within the communities near the area of Construction,” she said.
The first construction, which will be done by Dimension Data, will start at Jwaneng and goes through Ghanzi then terminates in Mamuno, and connecting directly to Namibia. The second, which will be carried out by Reteng Mic, will start in Ghanzi, passing through Maun and ending in Orapa. Com-plant will undertake the last construction which will run through Sebina, Nata, Kasane and connecting directly to the Zambia boarder, also ensuring that there is onward connectivity between Botswana, Zambia and Namibia.
The minister also urged communities where the contractors will be setting up their camp sites to come up with entrepreneurial ideas on how they can benefit on business spin-offs brought about by the construction.
This ambitious project being undertaken by the BTC is expected to cover up to 2000 km at a total cost P200 million and has been seen as a breakthrough for Botswana’s Information Communications Technology infrastructure.
For his part, BTC Chief Executive, Vincent Seretse, stated that the current Trans-Kalahari Radio system, which is being replaced with the Optical fibre, had a history of frequent failures, adding that the maintance of this system had been a big task to the BTC operations and maintenance staff.
“The main benefits of this project shall be to improve services, reduce operation and maintenance costs,” he said.
He also revealed that recent discussions between Telkcom South Africa (TSA) and BTC on possibilities of re-routing TSA traffic to pass through BTC network to SADC countries such as Namibia, Zimbabwe and Zambia was going to bring a lot of revenue to the BTC.
While connecting all major centres in the country, the project also promises a full national fibre ring system that guarantees users cheap and quick access to high quality telecommunications services.
It is expected to help the Ministries of Communications, Science and Technology with the rural telephony initiative, the Ministry of Mineral and Energy with remote mineral exploration and the Ministry of Education on long distance education.
The network is also expected to boost the tourism sector through online advertising and easily accessible bookings world wide.