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Mascom talks digital inclusion

Keikantse Lesemela

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Mascom CEO, Jose Caucerio

Launching its new application, My Play, last week, Mascom Chief Executive, Jose Couceiro said they have a robust network roll out plan to work towards digital inclusion and empower Batswana through ICT.

Committing to this undertaking, Mascom promises a third generation network coverage in all villages with a population size of 5000 people across the country by the end of 2018.
Currently there are over 25 villages with 3G network coverage.“It is our target that by the end of 2019, we would have extended 3G coverage to all our sites, countryside, irrespective of the population size of the village or settlement,” said Couceiro.

This year Mascom launched a contact centre with an aim to redefine business processes outsourcing as a concept. Couceiro said as Botswana mobile market evolves, they have observed that mobile subscriber growth alone is no longer a major driver for revenue growth but rather the potential for the market is in digital inclusion through access to mobile and fixed broadband.

“We commit to continue leading in the area on innovation to ensure that Botswana is part of the global village and that we too can experience fast moving technology, the world of 5G, smart cities, artificial intelligence and the internet of things,” said Couceiro.

In 2016 Mascom partnered with Botswana Fibre Network (BOFINET) and government to provide connectivity to all government schools in Botswana and to date 496 public schools are connected with internet.

In an effort to encourage local content and improve access to the internet, three years ago, Mascom launched Tsena Botswana Online, which is used to aggregate and create local content. Tsena is accessible for free and at no data costs to all Mascom subscribers. The new My Play application offers extensive catalogue of movies, TV Shows, Documentaries, Music Videos and over 700 movie titles and over 2000 series.

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Market Street day supports local products

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Minister of Investment, Trade and Industry, Bogolo Kenewendo has encouraged citizens to promote and support local products thus contributing to employment creation and economic development.

Speaking during the ministry’s Market Street day on Saturday, the trade minister said the ministry came up with the initiative to expose local products to the national market. “The plan is to keep growing so that we get Batswana products in the shops and get Batswana to know the products in the shops,” said Kenewendo. Market street day was initiated last year as a platform to add on to the continuing efforts to grow local businesses. This year, retail sector, including Shoprite, Choppies and Ackerman’s from South Africa participated in the exhibition.

Kenewendo pointed out that supporting local products helps reduce export of jobs. “Most of Batswana will say they don’t want to buy locally produced goods because they are of low quality, we need to buy from them so that they grow. When we buy products from other countries we are exporting jobs, why should we export jobs?” she asked rhetorically. Economic diversification drive should not be a Government initiative alone, only but all citizens should contribute, she concluded.

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Botswana behind in ease of doing business

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Botswana has been challenged to improve easy of doing business for the country to remain competitive amongst its peers.

The Director of Investor Facilitation and Relations at Special Economic Zones Authority’s (SEZA), Neo Mahube recently told delegates at the two- day investment symposium dubbed Doing Business in Botswana, Transitioning Botswana that the country needs to be globally competitive.“The world is growing better than we are, there is something that we are not doing right, despite our political stability and sound economic policies,” said Mahube.

Currently, Botswana lags behind Mauritius, Zambia, Kenya, South Africa on the ease of doing business, according to the latest World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business report. Mahube said bottlenecks that investors and local startups face to register a business should be resolved.

“We need to transform the way we are doing business, if we are to bring businesses to Botswana,” said Mahube, adding that the country needs to be as efficient as possible to start a business, apart from improving credit efficiency.

She however applauded government for legislation amendment initiatives that have already been put in place ahead of the transformation journey. Mahube said through transforming the ease of doing business the country has potential to create employment.

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