Botswana prepares for World Telecommunications Day commemorations

By John Churu, Gaborone, Botswana

Plans are already at an advanced stage for this year commemoration of the 2015 World Telecommunication and Information Society (WTIS) day. This year the celebrations will be commemorated in Ghanzi on May 16.  This year marks the 150th anniversary of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and Botswana is a signatory to ITU.

The local coordinator of WTIS day, Michael Kajane, told the media that this year's theme would look at innovations “to improve the lives of every Motswana. He said the theme also strived to improve the economy of the country.”

According to Kajane, the purpose of the World Telecommunication and Information Society Day (WTISD) is to help raise awareness of the possibilities that the use of the Internet and other information and communication technologies could bring to societies and economies, as well as bridge the digital divide.

The commemorations are always carried out in places outside the capital Gaborone. The choice of this year’s venue Ghanzi has been inspired by the fact that this is one of the top beef producers’ places in the country and beef is the third forex earner for the country. Other places which have so far commemorated WTIS day are Kaudwane in 2009, Francistown in 2010, Manxhodai in Nata in 2011, Mabule in 2012, in 2013 in Shorobe and Selibe Phikwe was the 2014 WTIS day venue.

The event cordinator noted that Ghanzi was chosen as a place to commemorate this day as it is a beef town; and beef being the third largest economy boost in the country after diamonds and tourism, Kajane said ICT could bring in development to farmers in the area in order to improve their farming techniques using technology.

He added that ICT could open opportunities for farming in Ghanzi as the day brings in improved ICTs. World Telecommunication Day has been celebrated annually on 17 May since 1969, marking the founding of ITU and the signing of the first International Telegraph Convention in 1865. It was instituted by the Plenipotentiary Conference in Malaga-Torremolinos in 1973.

In November 2005, the World Summit on the Information Society called upon the UN General Assembly to declare 17 May as World Information Society Day to focus on the importance of ICT and the wide range of issues related to the Information Society raised by WSIS. The General Assembly adopted a resolution (A/RES/60/252) in March 2006 stipulating that World Information Society Day shall be celebrated every year on 17 May.

In November 2006, the ITU Plenipotentiary Conference in Antalya, Turkey, decided to celebrate both events on 17 May as World Telecommunication and Information Society Day. The updated Resolution 68 invites Member States and Sector Members to celebrate the day annually by organizing appropriate national programmes with a view to: stimulating reflection and exchanges of ideas on the theme adopted by the Council; debating the various aspects of the theme with all partners in society; formulating a report reflecting national discussions on the issues underlying the theme, to be fed back to ITU and the rest of its membership.

According to Kajane, this event could be of benefit to the area as it needs exposure to the rest of the world. “Ghanzi is an untapped market which needs to be capitalized on. It will be for the government and stakeholders alike in the area to utilize what will be left of WTIS day to develop the technical standards that ensure networks and technologies seamlessly interconnect, and strive to improve access to ICTs to underserved communities.


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