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Botswana pins high-income status hope on digital transformation

Botswana's ambition to transition its economy is pinned to the country’s digital transformation, the finance minister has announced.

Presenting the 2023/2024 budget proposal, finance minister Peggy Serame said digital transformation is central to its national development agenda. She added that is part of six national priorities, which include business environment reform, infrastructure development, value chain development, sustaining livelihoods and climate change.

“Botswana’s goal of achieving a high-income country status by 2036 rests primarily on the strength of its digital ecosystem, specifically on access to affordable information and telecommunications technology infrastructure,” said Serame.

She highlighted that to achieve this there is a need to accelerate digital connectivity nationwide to close the connectivity gap. The minister said the connectivity gap is being closed through moving government services online, leveraging smart technologies to address food security, and transforming the education sector.

“Other digital transformation initiatives include full migration from analogue transmission to digital terrestrial television, ensuring that the country benefits from the digital dividend, high definition broadcast and access to more broadcast channels; as well as implementation of a digital competency framework aimed at building the digital literacy of the general public and the public service.”

Serame has proposed a P2.62 billion budget for the country’s digitalisation agenda.

Meanwhile ICT expert Itumeleng Garebatshabe, director, Intellegere Holdings, has welcomed the minister’s announcement with reservation, calling for improved implementation in the digital transformation journey.

“Government is still lagging behind in the rollout of some of the digitisation programmes and the minister’s announcement remains ambiguous, because there are no timelines of what will be done by when.

“However, it is a good idea for the government to prioritise digital transformation but remember e-government never took off the way they said it would, I’m hoping for a better implementation,” said Garebatshabe.

He said the digitisation plans should be itemised to avoid the project remaining ambiguous.

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