By John Churu, Gaborone, Botswana
Website and telecommunication services at most government institutions here have been described by one visitor to Botswana as terrible. However, during a parliament session, the Minister of Transport and Communications, Tshenolo Mabeo, has heaped the blame squarely on power failure, vandalism and theft of copper and fibre cables as the main contributors to disruptions in ICT service dissemination.
The Minister told a parliament sitting that power supply issues caused most of the outages of telecommunications networks and services. He was responding to a question from the floor, on why buildings and offices in the government enclave were always affected by network failures.
“When there is a power failure in a certain area it negatively affects the telecommunications networks, leading to disruption of several services,” Mabeo added.
Mabeo said services were sometimes hampered by “accidental destruction of cables by civil works contractors as well as occasionally, systems failing due to various faults in the telecommunication network, which included system failures at the Government Data Centre.”
He said the Ministry had embarked on a rigorous process of enhancing the system failover systems to minimise such failures, adding that if funds permitted the projects would be implemented in the next financial year.
Mabeo hinted that in order to solve power failures, operators had installed standby power supplies such as solar panels and generators and other alternative sources of power.
In order to address disruptions due to optical fibre networks cuts, which deploy services to the public, Government through Botswana Fibre Network Pty (Ltd) was building network resilience in different strategic alternative routes.
Meanwhile, Botswana has continued to register good progress in terms of access to ICT services tenth in Africa and usage of such services where it is ranked first in Africa. However, Botswana’s still needs to improve her ranking in terms of ICT Skills sub index where the country’s global ranking remained fixed at 5.86 and 116 respectively between 2012 and 2013.
Botswana ranks fifth in Africa in terms of a recent global ICT Development Index (IDI) compiled by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU). According to the ITU’s annual global Measuring the Information Society Report released at the end of November, Botswana’s composite IDI index score has improved from 3.94 recorded in 2012 to 4.01 recorded 2013.
The score places Botswana above the average score of 3.84 for developing countries but below the global IDI average of 4.77. The four other African countries above Botswana are Mauritius followed by Seychelles, South Africa and Cape Verde.
The IDI Index measures the level of ICT development among all the 193 Member states of the ITU. The index evaluates ICT developments, tracks the cost and affordability of ICT services, ranks countries based on three parameters of Access, Usage and ICT Skills.