Implementation of the Universal Access and Service Fund (UASF) will help close the Information and Communications technology (ICT) access gap in the country.
Speaking at a consultative workshop with stakeholders, Botswana Communications Regulatory Authority (BOCRA) chief executive officer, Mr Thari Pheko said the journey to implement the UASF would bring a reality to the dream of expanding the digital network and connecting citizens irrespective of their geographic location and socio-economic standing.
“We are here today to hear your views on what should form part of the views in connecting Botswana and reducing the digital divide,” he said.
Mr Pheko said as an authority that is responsible for regulating the communication sector in Botswana, their endeavor is to ensure maximum engagement of all stakeholders in the thought process before finalising and decision making on any plans.
He indicated that a strategy was needed to implement the UASF and facilitate the efficient distribution of resources for provision of services at affordable prices to all in Botswana.
UASF’s main objective is to encourage the efficient access to and the use of ICTs services in Botswana focusing on the under-served and not served areas and disadvantaged communitiesMr Pheko further said the other objective of the fund is to promote the development and use of local applications and content.
The provision of the fund is not the sole responsibility of government and BOCRA, he added.
“BOCRA and government cannot do it alone. It is a challenge to all of us and its success will depend on the contribution and participation of all of us,” he said.
He said the journey was started in 2006 by the then Botswana Telecommunication Authority (BTA) who undertook a study on the universal access services and practices in Botswana hence there was a policy in that regard.
Speaking on behalf of stakeholders, Ms Tebogo Lebotse-Sebego of Mascom Botswana said as Mascom Botswana, they subscribe to the foundations and principles that the draft is based on. “If we get the foundations and structure correct we are more likely to succeed. This process is very important,” she said.
She indicated that the big contributors to the fund should have seats in the structure of the fund.