Botswana Gets Commonwealth ICT Award for Universal Access
The first Commonwealth ICT & Industry Awards which took place yesterday evening in London saw the award for Best Universal Access Initiative going to the Botswana Communications Regulatory Authority (BOCRA).
The Botswana Communications Regulatory Authority (BOCRA) is mandated with the promotion and facilitation of provision of communication services throughout Botswana. In 2014, it established the Universal Access & Service Fund for purposes of funding universal access in the communications sector. The Fund was established to achieve the objectives of availability, accessibility and affordability.
Receiving the award on behalf of BOCRA, Martin Mokgware, Acting Deputy Chief Executive (Operations and Strategy) said: “We are very honoured to be presented with this award. This is a real boost to colleagues back home who worked so creatively to find ways to connect everyone to the Internet at minimal or no cost.”
In its attempt to achieve the three objectives, the Fund issued a tender to subsidise an operator to commission wholesale Wi-Fi hotspots in key strategic public areas in major population centres including cities, towns and major tourism destinations. Strategic public areas targeted include bus station/ranks, public hospitals, shopping malls, airports and open public spaces. The objectives of this project are as follows:
- To connect super-fast broadband to achieve the target speeds of the national broadband strategy;
- To provide the public with easy access to secure and affordable broadband services; and
- To promote usage of local domain names, local content development and use of e-government services.
The project has been commissioned in 31 sites in 7 different regions around the country. The Wi-Fi hotspots are currently being provided by the wholesale provider to licensed retailers on an open access principle. The hotspots offer roaming capabilities in that a voucher bought in one hotspot can be used in any other hotspot.
Separately, two individuals were recognised for their special contributions to the CTO. Professor Tim Unwin, former Secretary-General of the CTO was presented with a Legacy Award, and Mothusi Lekaukau accepted a posthumous Lifetime Achievement award given to his late father, Cuthbert Lekaukau, former Chairman of the CTO Council and Executive Chairman of Botswana’s BOCRA.
Other awards go to the National Communications Authority of Ghana (Best ICT Policy and Regulatory Initiative), Courteville Business Solutions (Best ICT Application), and Etisalat Nigeria (Best Corporate Social Responsibility Initiative).