Despite the various initiatives being undertaken by the government and private companies to harness Information and Communication Technology (ICT) as the country is aiming to shift into a knowledge economy the statistics show that Botswana is still missing a lot on ICT connectivity.
The 2019 Global Connectivity Index report compiled by leading technological company, Huawei ranked Botswana number 70 out 79 countries with report suggesting that Botswana scores are below the global average for the majority of GCI indicators signaling poor connectivity in ICT.
Report indicates that the exceptions are smartphone and mobile broadband penetration, which hit historic heights in 2019 as Botswana scores also increased by 1 point in 4G and Internet use.
“Botswana scores reflects its underdeveloped status, despite some growth in demand for cloud migration. With internet penetration showing continuous growth, Botswana is ideally poised to benefit from the opportunities that cloud computing provides,” the GCI report has established.
Statistics Botswana ICT figures of Q1 2019 show that local Internet subscriptions experienced steadily increased during the quarter increasing by 10.7% from 1 804 subscriptions registered in Q4 2019.
Local ICT solutions provider company, RPC Data this week held a one day media crash course that touched on ICT market in Botswana its related challenges and how they delays growth.
The Managing Director of RPC Data Komal Rao said Botswana ICT industry is grappling with a quite number of challenges emphasizing that local ICT service providers are still fragmented.
He noted the reason why the local ICT companies cannot be competitive is that only competing foreign ICT companies have the capacity to lend all lucrative ICT tenders from the government.
“Botswana ICT is depending a lot on government to procure ICT but there has been a serious stagnation by government to buy ICT.Foreign ICT providers still outshines the local ICT service providers to win ICT tenders and they don’t in return contribute to local ICT workers, “he said.
Furthermore, RPC Data MD have attributed Botswana’s poor global competitiveness on due to improper implementation of mega ICT projects, citing the defunct multi-million eGov project.
Komal regrets that the eGov project has been anticipated to be piloted long years ago but to no success buttressing that the system could give Botswana competitive edge on global rankings.
The parliamentary wing committee, Public Accounts Committee (PAC) back in 2018 in shocking a revelation was informed that the dysfunctional eGov system gobbled government P 1 billion.
Disclosure was made by former Permanent Secretary in Ministry of Transport, Kabelo Ebineng.
Komal also insisted that although government is the primary consumer of ICT, he observed that the local private sector is not enough to support local ICT industry compared to other regions.
This, he said it is due to the fact that Botswana has only 25 companies listed in Botswana Stock Exchange (BSE),hence leaving the market for small ICT service providing companies is limited.
Another Director at RPC DATA Nitin Sanghi said for Botswana to fully realise the dream reality of a knowledge based economy should leapfrog in advancing ICT infrastructure and spending.
He fears that the ICT professionals have been untapped as government is hiring a low number of the graduates calling on the private sector ICT providers to absorb university ICT graduates.