On Friday 23 February 2018, a total of Sixty-Eight (68) IT officers recently employed by Botswana Communications Regulatory Authority (BOCRA), through the Universal Access and Service Fund (UASF), completed induction and IT refresher training at Kanye Education Centre. The IT officers service 68 primary schools in Mabutsane Sub-District, Ghanzi District and Kagalagadi Districts sponsored by UASF under the schools’ connectivity and computerisation project to the tune of P57 Million. They facilitate teachers and pupils to take full advantage of the opportunities and benefits that come with access to broadband Internet and other ICT services.
The project is a collaboration between the Ministry of Transport and Communications through BOCRA/UASF, Ministry of Basic Education (MoBE), and Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development. It aims to promote access to ICTs; develop ICT infrastructure; and develop ‘grass roots level’ skills to exploit the benefits of ICTs. Each of the 68 primary schools in the three districts will have a Local Area Network with 5 Mbps dedicated internet; a multi-purpose network printer and fifty (50) educational tablets for the pupils. In addition, all secondary schools in the three areas will each receive thirty (30) laptops to augment their existing inventory of ICT devices.
Alongside the schools’ computerisation and connectivity project, the Fund is also undertaking a project to upgrade mobile telephony base stations in all the villages in the three areas to a minimum of 3G capability to facilitate uptake of broadband internet services. Upgrades of base stations is done in collaboration with mobile network operators, that is BTCL which will cover Ghanzi District, Mascom will cover Kgalagadi District while Orange will cover Mabutsane Sub-District.
BOCRA established the UASF in April 2014 as a special purpose vehicle to drive its mandate of ensuring universal access to communications services. The Fund therefore has the objective of facilitating the rollout of basic yet essential communications services at affordable prices to all communities in underserved and unserved areas in a bid to close the ‘digital gap’.