Crisis averted for government ICT

GOVERNMENT

|
Image: By BiztechAfrica
Crisis averted for government ICT

By John Churu, Gaborone, Botswana

There is incessant media speculation that the Government offices in Botswana have been thrown a lifeline by allowing local IT companies to continue rendering services for government until a solution is found to the current logistical impasse.

 “For now government has been saved from a computer paralysis that would have seen the entire National IT Infrastructure network hit by a computer virus due to the limited capacity of government IT personnel,” said one media source of the current government IT scenario.

Media reports say a court order by Justice Monametsi Gaongalelwe on February 29, gave the local IT companies the go-ahead to continue performing the service for government until a tender award, which usually takes two years to process, is completed.

Government wanted to discontinue engaging private companies from February 29, 2012, in outsourcing for hardware maintenance and software support services for PC, server and peripheral systems at government services and departments, but private companies - some of whom have been providing the services to government for 20 years - have warned government risks triggering disaster of cosmic proportions by leaving the work in the hands of its inexperienced personnel.

The business is worth USD8.6 million a year to the five IT companies engaged by government. The IT companies are also said to employ over 500 Batswana IT professionals and ancillary staff.

According to courts documents which are privy to the media, the IT companies handle 24,000 service calls annually, or 50-250 calls a day for service. They also handle a high number of computer virus calls, a situation which has been a feature of the life of the contract, as the anti-virus measures in place do not adequately address the problem.

The contracts are for the entire government information technology structure extending from ministry level all the way to structures such as Botswana Unified Revenue Service (BURS), immigration (including border posts), education (including government schools) and all police stations.

 It is believed that five IT companies some of which have been performing micro maintenance support services for government departments for 20 years now successfully argued in court that government does not have the resources to undertake this task.

The IT companies cite a previous catastrophic episode in which the national infrastructure was severely affected by a flare up in virus activity resulting in great disruption to the government’s capacity to deliver on its mandate.

However, the Minister of Transport and Communications Nonofo Molefhi told the media that government has the capacity to perform the service presently outsourced to private companies. He revealed that government has some 800 qualified IT staff who are capable of delivering and announced that they are appealing Judge Gaongalelwe’s decision.

The situation would have seen government computers and their network going for months without adequate maintenance, while still waiting for tender award, the IT companies said in their court papers.

According to information reaching Biztechafrica, “on February 10, the companies appealed to the minister to intervene, after being told by the director of Department of Information and Technology (DITS) that government was determined to use its own human resource. Government had written to all the IT companies - MODI Investments, Office Technique and IT Integrates, IBS, PC Net - informing them that their contracts would cease on February 29, 2012.”

The tender invitation was only published on the eve of the urgent lawsuit by three of the affected IT companies though DITS was expected to have had the tender awarded by March 2012. In fact opinion in the IT industry is that the advert was placed in such a hurry just to save face ahead of the hearing of the urgent court application by IT companies. The current contracts have been running since April 2010.

However, commentators where quick to post their reactions to the story beginning with those that feel the government is blocking the entry of fresh graduates by redeploying these companies year after year. Below are a few comments on the matter:

“46 years into independence and still struggling with localisation? There are a lot of skilled and trained locals roaming the streets. Employ them!”

“60 millions of pula (about USD8.6million) that's too much just for formatting the machine and update virus with trial version” was the thinking of one commentator.

“Those Companies do overrate themselves... I think de government has better technicians than them, the fact that they're underpaying tells u that they can't retain skilled manpower,” said another.  

And lastly a concerned student says: “This (sic) companies are blocking a way for government to employ fresh graduate and continue certifying and training its employees. There lot of IT graduates out there…”



Share the News

Get Daily Newsletter

comments powered by Disqus

MORE GOVERNMENT NEWS

NIMC postpones mandatory use of NIN

The National Identity Management Commission (NIMC), has postponed the date for the commencement of the mandatory use of the National Identification Number (NIN), from September 1, this year to January 9, next year. Read More

Tigo Cash first in line to accept e-Goverment payments through Irembo

Tigo Rwanda has announced its partnership with Rwanda Online Platform Ltd (ROPL) for e-Government service payments via the Irembo,gov.rw e-government portal. Read More

SIM deactivation: NCC to sanction telcos over non-compliance

The Nigeria Communications Commission (NCC), says it will impose sanctions on Nigeria carriers over partial and non-compliance with its directive to deactivate all SIMs that do not conform to laid down procedures. Read More

Expert wants MDAs to embrace e-revenue collection

An electronic payment expert,  Deremi Atanda, has urged Federal Government ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) to embrace the use of technology, especially the electronic or e-payment platform to collect revenue. Read More

SADC lends weight to STI

The Southern African Development Community (SADC) has put its weight behind the regional initiatives to boost Science, Technology and Innovation (STI).  Read More

NCA to auction Infrastructure License

Ghana’s National Communication Authority will soon be auctioning its Infrastructure License to the public. Read More

Telcos get 7-day SIM ultimatum

The Nigerian Communications Commission has handed down a seven-day ultimatum to network providers to deactivate all pre-registered SIM cards or face sanctions. Read More

Prof Danbatta named NCC chief

President Muhammadu Buhari has appointed Prof Umar Garba Danbatta as the new Executive Vice Chairman/Chief Executive Officer of the NCC. Read More

CEO of BOCRA to open SAPOA AGM

Thari Pheko, The Botswana Communications and Regulatory Authority (BOCRA) Chief Executive Officer will be the guest of honour at the 14th southern Africa Postal Operators Association annual general meeting. Read More

Prof Quaynor calls for greater partnerships within Ghana’s ICT sector

The Board Chairman of Ghana’s National Information Technology Agency (NITA) Professor Nii Narku Quaynor, has called for a much greater collaboration and partnership within the country’s Information and Communication Technology sector. Read More

PRESS OFFICES

Sage ERP AfricaSAP AfricaSage Pastel AccountingTrust PayVMWareSamsung ElectronicsMitsumi DistributionPhoenix DistributionMTN BusinessSchneider ElectricMultichoiceMicrosoft 4Afrika

FEATURED STORY

Young innovators shine during pitch sessionsYoung innovators shine during pitch sessions

Botswana saw an array of upcoming tech wizards selling their ideas during the Vendors’ Day pitch sessions this week.

IN DEPTH

High tech homes: Just press playHigh tech homes: Just press play

High tech, digital homes where everything is automated and connected aren’t the stuff of science fiction any longer, says BNC Technology.