It is with great pleasure that I stand before you today to witness the launch of 5G technology by Mascom Wireless Botswana. I believe this is a new era for the telecommunications industry and Botswana as a country since this launch by Mascom is the first 5G launch in Botswana.
My Ministry wishes to applaud Mascom on this launch. We further recognise Mascom’s trail of immense contribution to the Government’s digitization strategy and a call of “Leaving No One Behind”
My Ministry recognizes the importance of 5G technology in the digitalization agenda of an economy like ours. There are more than five accelerators for digital investments necessary to catalyse digital economy or digitalization if you wish. These are 5G, Artificial Intelligence, Cloud Computing, Big Data and Internet of Things. It is grateful MASCOM is taking a lead in this regard.
We are today, housed in this first of its kind- a state of the art Innovation Centre by Mascom, designed in accordance with the latest technology and I am informed boasts a high-quality Data Centre.
Bagaetsho as the Government of Botswana we have committed ourselves to delivering quality services to all our citizens, in this respect my Ministry came up with the 1996 Telecommunications Policy. This policy proclaims that access to basic telecommunications services is a citizen right and must be made available to all users in Botswana, regardless of geographical location and at an affordable price.
The National Transformation Strategy provides a framework for fully coordinated, articulated, and aligned sectoral and enterprise strategies in the public and private sectors, at national and local levels. The achievement of this Vision is anchored on multi-stakeholder partnerships that mobilize and share knowledge, expertise, technology, and financial resources. I think we can all agree that today’s launch is a huge step in us achieving our vision.
In our efforts to review progress of the National Transformation agenda following the devastating health and economic effects of the Coronavirus Pandemic, His Excellency, President Dr. Mokgweetsi E.K Masisi launched the reset agenda and priorities. The resetting of priorities is aimed at breaking barriers, removing hurdles, and building momentum towards Botswana’s goal of becoming a high-income country. A key priority for the Government of Botswana is Digitalization, which has the immense potential to unlock and enable high productivity among people. The global village runs on the wheels of digitization which is quintessential to the delivery of services to the people. I am pleased to note that through initiatives such as the Mascom Kitsong Centres, Mascom has played a key role in terms of bridging the digital divide by enabling access to digital services in rural areas and today Mascom has deployed 110 kitsong centres offering ICT services across the country. And most importantly these are run by young Batswana entrepreneurs with Mascom’s support.
Digital transformation is broadening and mixing business boundaries in all sectors, which will increase both diversity and uncertainty. With 5G’s network design concepts and integrative capabilities, it’s possible to combat these uncertainties. The opportunities and impact that 5G technology will have on our lives are immeasurable and will contribute significantly towards our digital transformation.
A key area for the Government of Botswana is health. Mobile health applies mobile Internet technology to provide E2E healthcare, including disease prevention, counselling, treatment, and rehabilitation. Advanced wireless communications and information processing technology can streamline medical diagnosis and better allocate and share medical resources and data. As we move towards enablement of e-Health in Botswana the health sector has significant 5G use cases and opportunities, many medical IT groups deal with surgical equipment that needs to be both connected and air-gapped from their networks for security reasons. Mobile health workers need access in the field during incidents, and critical patient diagnostic data needs to be transmitted between ambulances and emergency rooms. 5G is a great tool for these areas where latency, security and high bandwidth are all critical.
Ladies and gentlemen, 5G technology will not only transform connectivity in Botswana but will enable our cities to be smarter. The opportunities that it will present to the Agricultural, healthcare, Insurance, manufacturing and SMME’s will enable them to be more efficient and agile to address specific needs of Batswana. A fundamental benefit of 5G is the speed at which data is transferred throughout the network, allowing an enormous broadening in the use of internet linked devices. By allowing new and existing technologies such as the Internet Of Things (IoT), big data, autonomous vehicles, smart cities and augmented & virtual reality to reach new levels of potential, 5G, has the ability to significantly boost the Botswana economy, directly increasing revenue for businesses. Director of ceremonies let me conclude by congratulating the Mascom team for once again living up to their promise of being the leading digital service provider of choice to all users. May this journey of transformation be a fruitful one and empower our communities beyond measure.
HON. THULAGANO SEGOKGO
MINISTER OF TRANSPORT AND COMMUNICATIONS, MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT FOR TLOKWENG CONSTITUENCY DURING THE MASCOM 5G LAUNCH