Saturday, September 19, 2020

Mascom to uplift forgotten communities

Mascom Wireless, the trail-blazing mobile phone outfit in the country, rose to the occasion this week by sealing a P 87 million public private partnership with the Botswana government intended to wire the remote villages to the international gate-ways.

The programme, which is expected to get a head start in as far as reducing the rural poverty levels in the next two yearÔÇöafter the east and west undersea cablesÔÇöin trying to position the selected areas for potential call centre areas, is one of the many things that are expected out of the telecommunication minister’s announcement some two years ago.

According to the plan, 41 villages which until Monday were not connected to the GSM nor the much taunted BTC lines are to be put into a plan to get regular telecommunication service, including internet and community public centers that are expected to eventually lift them out of poverty.

“Under the plan, 41 villages are going to be covered,” Mascom said, but did not state the long term potential.
The plan is that Mascom will put one Public Communication centre in each village that will wire the place to the rest of the world and at the same time take care of clinic, primary or secondary schools and the police stations.

The PPP project will take 18 months for connection and 10 years for Mascom to realize its investment value without any interruption. Government is not looking at any commercial profit from the venture despite the fact that it is going to risk P 87 million but will be content with connectivity and job creation.

“This will be part of Mascom expansion within Botswana to areas where we were not before,” the company said.
According to the ministry, the whole plan is in line with the plan to connect about 191 villages across the country starting from the end of October within the signing of the final contract.

“This put us in a position where all the gazetted areas will be having service,” government said.
“This will be an expansion on the existing Mascom network and we expect that it will need no extra cost,” the company said.

The service will add to its more than half a million subscribers, mostly on pre paid contracts.

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Sunday Standard September 20 – 26

Digital copy of Sunday Standard issue of September 20 - 26, 2020.