Government says in growing economies the ICT sector contributes significantly to the economy as it is a crucial enabler of efficient product and service delivery across all sectors.
Speaking recently at the MTN’s Skye Connect, the Acting Deputy Permanent Secretary – ICT, in the Ministry of Transport and Communications Itumeleng Batsalelwang said government would leverage leading ICT as a key contributor to economic growth and employment whilst also enabling an efficient private and public sector.
He added that competition between service operators in ICT had created a vibrant communications market in Botswana.
“MTN’s Skye Connect is innovative as it is an Internet Package meant to facilitate business growth for the Small and Medium-sized Enterprises,” he said.
Batsalelwang stated that the revenues of the operators have been a factor in the contribution of the communications sector to the Gross Domestic Product which has been increasing year on year even during the financial and economic crisis of 2008/9. He said the sector continues to employ more and more people directly and indirectly.
“BOCRA as a regulator continuously facilitates the growth of ICT market as part of its role to increase the uptake of digital and electronic services,” he said.
Batsalelwang observed that the introduction of Botswana Fibre Network (BOFINET) as a wholesale provider to the market has had a positive effect in increasing coverage of the last mile in the country. He said since its introduction, tariffs of ICT services in Botswana have been continuously decreasing in comparison to the region and internationally.
He stated that as reported in the NDP 11, the cumulative reduction in wholesale prices for bandwidth was reduced by up to 80 percent. Batsalelwang is of the view that the market has also started to experience significant price reductions in some retail products and services such as fixed broadband, national lease lines and international internet and voice which have reduced on average by 30 percent.
He further stated that in 2012, BOCRA in consultation with stakeholders, developed the quality of service guidelines for the communications sector to address the issue of poor customer experiences. He said the guidelines harmonised the reporting standards, parameters and frequency of network performance. Batsalelwang stated the guidelines were reviewed in 2015 to improve the reporting format and to ensure that there was increased transparency in reporting network performance areas.
He believes that this is evident enough that Botswana with the aid of the regulator has made strides in the ICT sector over the years.
“It has been proven worldwide that SMEs play a major role in promoting growth and creating employment opportunities in both developing and developed countries,” said Batsalelwang.
He stated that still in the context of the SMEs, they face challenges in growing their businesses and sustaining their competitiveness whilst managing costs, attracting and retaining talent and working to ensure that they keep ahead of rising competition.
He is of the view that there are various factors that are affecting the business environment; some of these are developments in external markets and also technological changes regardless of which sector a company operates in. He said what that means is that our businesses as part of economic transformation process, have to find ways of adapting to these changes.