In a move to fast track the development of Botswana into an information society, the Minister of Communications, Science and Technology, Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi, launched the “i-Partnership ÔÇô A computer for me” programme in Gaborone last week.
The objective of the i-Partnership is to broaden and deepen IT literacy as well as to create employment for Botswana. Significantly, the programme will increase computer penetration and internet usage amongst the people of Botswana.
The i-Parternship is a Public Private Partnership (PPP) initiative driven by the Ministry of Communications Science and Technology, in collaboration with Microsoft ÔÇô the global software developer – and supported by local stakeholders from both the public and private sectors.
The initiative allows every civil servant, IT graduate and the unemployed youth to acquire quality and affordable computer and internet connectivity using the most attractive credit guarantee ever offered by the Government of Botswana and participating financial institutions.
This will be achieved through offering both desktop and laptop computers to civil servants and unemployed IT graduates at prices that are between 12 and 15 percent lower than the market prices for equivalent machines.┬á
The computers, which include HP, Sahara and Proline machines, will cost anywhere from P3000 to P7000, and will include licensed copies of Microsoft Windows and options of Office 2007 as part of a Microsoft Partners for Technology Access (PTA) programme, which offers Microsoft products at┬á preferred prices for the purposes of training and development.
┬áFor civil servants, a PC will be offered with a hugely discounted DSL Internet connection, sponsored by Botswana Telecoms.┬á The computers are financed by an interest-free salary advance, which is re-payable over 12 months.┬á All civil servants need to do is apply for a computer through departmental administration.
┬áNGOs will offer basic and advanced IT training to PC buyers.┬á To raise interest in using computers outside the work environment, buyers will also be tutored on IT Lifestyle.
┬áUnemployed IT graduates qualify for a discounted computer through the Ministry of Youth.┬á To meet the criteria for a computer, the graduates need to produce their diplomas as well as proof that they are unemployed.┬á They are then able to finance a computer of their choice through a financing agreement with the First National Bank Botswana.
┬áIT graduates would benefit from having access to a computer and the tools they need to go into business for themselves.┬á Also with vital business training, which includes CV writing, interview preparation, and job search know-how, they have a better chance of making it into the corporate world.
┬áOne of the advantages of the i-Partnership programme in Botswana is that it will accelerate the build up of the long-awaited e-Government initiatives ÔÇô the provision of some government services on line ÔÇô which would ultimately cut the cost of public service, for example, civil servants filing their tax returns online.
┬áThrough this programme, the Citizen Entrepreneurial Development Agency (CEDA) and the Department of Youth will facilitate the establishment of about 20 cyber Internet cafes for unemployed youth, in partnership with Mobile Telephony Operators.
┬áThese centres will offer services such as photocopying, faxing, printing and Internet access for people as well as small and large businesses.┬á In addition, mobile operators will be making pre-paid cellular cards available for people who need to make telephone calls.
┬áThe government of Botswana, together with its private sector partners and Microsoft, is aiming to bring more Batswana into contact with technology that is relevant and empowering.┬á
┬áSimilar programmes have been highly successful in places like Egypt and Nigeria and, together with modernising the way government and civil servants work, this programme aims to boost employment amongst Botswana’s youth.