Mascom Wireless Botswana’s drive to empower young local entrepreneurs and transform small villages into knowledge based economies continued this past Thursday as the company donated 10 more Kitsong Centres to young entrepreneurs.
The latest Kitsong centres, which will take the total number of Centres awarded to young entrepreneurs to 71, will go to youths from the villages of Mosolotshane, Mogorosi, Kalamare, Motopi, Marobela, Metlojane, Digawana, Shakawe, Mogobane and Pilikwe. Under the initiative, the telecommunications giant gives young entrepreneurs in villages branded Portacabin equipped with computers, printers, fax machines and copiers to provide the community with easy and affordable access to ICT based services.
The initiative began in 2009 when the company partnered with the Botswana Government to bring communications technology to the people through the Nteletsa II Rural Telecommunications Development Project. During the project, Mascom extended coverage to a total of 41 villages and also set up Kitsong Centres in each of the 41 villages.
Spurred on by the success of the initiative, the local telecommunications giant then handed 10 more Centres each in 2011 and 2012. Speaking during the Kitsong Centres Expansion ceremony to hand the latest Centres, the ICT Coordinator at the Ministry of Communications and Transport, Ephraim Balebetse said to date, ‘Mascom has invested about P16 million on the project,’ which he described as ‘a noble contribution to encouraging the youth of Botswana to be involved in entrepreneurship.’
“This is the commitment that Mascom is pledging to continue working with the nation of Botswana towards Vision 2016 by aligning their activities with the pillar of being a prosperous, productive and innovative nation,” he said.
Balebetse further said the initiative by Mascom will help bridge the digital divide by taking ICT services closer to Communities in rural areas. For her part, Mascom Wireless Chief Information Officer, Lilly Sullivan described the Kitsong Centres initiative as her company’s contribution ‘towards transforming small villages into knowledge based economies.’
She said this is evident through the thousands of ICT donations that Mascom has made to primary schools, Kgotla’s and the 61 Mascom Kitsong Centres around Botswana. Sullivan said the standard Kitsong Centre services include secretarial services, airtime and simcard sales, email and internet services, and computer training with the more established Kitsong Centres also offering services such as photography, video productions, as well as computer games.
The Mascom CIO said as part of the initiative, some of the young Kitsong Centres Operators were enrolled for the International Computers Driving Licence(ICDL) course to ‘not only to up skill the operators but also to set them up as trainers so they can extend the ICDL training to the community.’
“If successful this will help to improve digital literacy in the selected villages and will help in preparing the communities for e-government services, job opportunities, higher education and greater economic activity,” Sullivan explained. The Mascom CIO said the initiative will continue next year when another 10 centres will be handed to young entrepreneurs.