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Botswana faces uphill challenge to bolster digital competitiveness

Botswana has been ranked low on the Institute for Management Development (IMD) World Digital Competitiveness rankings despite various ongoing initiatives to improve the country's digital competitiveness.

Rankings are based on three key areas - knowledge, technology, and future-readiness.

“Overall, Botswana ranks 63rd out of the 64 economies included in the 2021 IMD World Digital Competitiveness report, with a digital competitiveness index score of 33.004 out of 100,”reads an excerpt from the report.

It indicated that Botswana is ranked poorly on the availability of high-tech patent grants at 64th, employee training at 63rd, digital or technological skills at 63rd and lack of international experience at 61.

Analysts believe that the results should not detract from efforts to bolster digital prowess.

Commenting on the report, Dr Tshiamo Motshegwa from University of Botswana’s Faculty of Computer Science said: “Very good and important assessment and report support by good methodology and criteria of assessment regarding technology and future readiness - areas that Botswana sees as critical in its own trajectory to a knowledge based economy. It will be useful for Botswana to engage in those assessments.”

Motshegwa added that there are many more ongoing digital assessments the nation should engage in, citing the World Bank’s Digital Economy for Africa.

Research Consultant at Botswana National Productivity Centre (BNPC), Letsogile Batsetswe added: “Though the government of Botswana has recently emphasized the need to foster the development of a knowledge-intensive economy that can explore, adapt, and produce digital technologies at scale, these rankings demonstrate that initiatives in this regard need to be urgently fast-tracked, if the country is to be globally competitive and also realise its knowledge-based economy ambitions,” said

Batsetswe said in efforts to bridge the digital divide, Botswana is working on accelerating its transition to a digital economy by investing P3.1-billion through the Economic Transformation Recovery Plan (ETRP).

“This will include initiatives aimed at addressing digital infrastructure gaps (SMART-Bots), automating land registration, expanding the biometric identification, the effective rollout of e-government services, and promoting digital payment infrastructure.”

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