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Botswana: business grills govt over ICT plan

Botswana: business grills govt over ICT plan

Botswana Confederation of Commerce Industry and Manpower (BOCCIM), the country's apex business body, believes the government has not made sufficient provision for dealing with ICT issues in the 2015/2016 fiscal year budget.

The Confederation expressed its dissatisfaction following the budget speech delivered this week by the minister of finance in which he reiterated government's commitment to improving ICT and e-government implementation.

Finance minister Kenneth Matambo told parliament that the use of information, communication and technology (ICT) is an important tool for efficient delivery of public services to Batswana.

"To this end, Government has adopted the e-Government programme in order to enhance innovation in the public sector.

The programme includes: application and issuance of various Government permits, licenses and certificates; providing information on legislative/administrative notices; as well as payment services such as tax refunds," said Matambo.

However, BOCCIM said the business community is disappointed that ICT transformational issues continue to impede the business environment and job creation.

BOCCIM said that ICT issues were not dealt with decisively in the 2015/16 fiscal year budget.

"BOCCIM is deeply concerned that after almost ten years there has been limited progress in implementing electronic government as a transformational tool for doing business in Botswana,

The opportunities that such a game changing tool could bring to the economy continue to be missed," said Maria Machailo-Ellis, Chief Executive Officer of BOCCIM.

Matambo announced that the second largest share of P1.62 billion or 12.5 percent of the development budget is allocated to the Ministry of Transport and Communications.

Some of the major projects to be undertaken by the Ministry include: upgrading of existing ICT infrastructure to optic fibre as well as broadband connectivity in strategic areas of Gaborone, Francistown, Maun and Kasane, as well as, Maun–Ngoma optic fibre link to facilitate international connectivity, at a total cost of P300 million.

The ICT upgrades is aimed at creating a conducive environment for private sector development, which is the source of growth and employment creation in the country.

Minister Matambo applauded the mobile financial services, offered by the private sector as is one of those initiatives that are being used to promote financial inclusion.

He said mobile money transfer and mobile banking, such as e-wallet and others, has created a convenient medium for the delivery of financial services.

Matambo further said during the year 2015/2016, a Making Access to Financial Services Possible diagnostic analysis will be carried out in Botswana with the view to developing a comprehensive financial inclusion road map. This should lead to a more accessible, inclusive and robust financial system.

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