Wednesday, January 19, 2022

ICT sector welcomes unified licensing, but….

Leading companies in the Information, Communications Technology sector have welcomed the recent proposal by their regulator, Botswana Communications Regulatory Authority (BOCRA), which seeks to introduce uniform operational licenses, though with reservations.

Giving her comments at a consultative meeting held in Gaborone recently, regarding the intended option to move to a Unified Licensing Framework (ULF) by BOCRA, head of communications at Mascom Wireless, a leading private mobile operator, Tebogo Lebotse ÔÇô Sebego said although they have a general understanding of the matter, such issues need input of shareholders of the companies they represent.

Lebotse- Sebego said as Mascom Wireless they will head back and study the paper that was presented by the assigned consultants from the World Bank and, later give a general report on the proposed framework.

She however said as a company they are willing to take the opportunities brought by the proposed regulatory framework to the local market.

For his part, BTCL Chief Operations Officer, Anthony Masunga said there is need to work within the specified timeframe in a bid to catch up with time as well as take advantage of what the proposed framework would bring. Mabua Mabua, Chief Executive Officer of BoFINET had earlier indicated that his organisation is ready to expand its services, precisely the provision of internet, to local schools. The company is an arm of government that was created after the privatisation of Botswana Telecommunications Corporation.

Chairperson of the ICT sector at BOCCIM, Neo Nwako went on to question whether BOCRA has the capacity to implement the proposed framework. He however noted that if carefully implemented, the regulation would help to stimulate new entrepreneurship as well as lower barriers of entry into the ICT sector.

“The private sector should strive in this sector without being crowded by government. It is worrisome to learn that lately government owned entities like BPC also want to tap into the ICT market which is bad,” he said.

ULF is a regulatory framework which embraces technological convergence and encourages innovativeness. BOCRA says that the proposed ULF is aligned with the new Communications Regulatory Act (2013).

“However, BOCRA intends to review all current policy documents to ensure that they comply with the new framework and to make appropriate recommendations to the Ministry of Transport and Communications,” said the Regulator.

BOCRA recently engaged the ICT Sector Unit of the World Bank, through Dr. Monica Kerretts-Makua under the supervision of Dr Tim Kelly who is leading ICT Policy Specialist at the World Bank.
Botswana’s information and communication technology (ICT) sector continues to demonstrate dynamic growth, driven by the mobile sector with mobile cellular subscriptions showing an upward trend from 2,900,263 in 2011 to 3,081,726 in 2012, registering a growth of 6.3 percent. At the same time, the number of mobile cellular subscriptions per 100 inhabitants also increased to 150.1 percent in 2012.

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