World Bank Group to present Digital Dividends

By John Churu, Gaborone, Botswana

The World Bank Group and Botswana Innovation Hub will on Tuesday 16 February host the World Development Report 2016: Digital Dividends. These presentations will be hosted from 10.30 - 12 noon in Gaborone.

World Development Report 2016: Digital Dividends (WDR 2016) is a World Bank annual flagship report. Although the topic of the Report is technology, it is looked upon through the lens of development economics.

According to a communiqué from the organisers, “the Report documents many compelling examples where the internet, mobile phones and other digital technologies have delivered digital dividends by boosting growth, expanding opportunities and improving services. But it also finds that the broader benefits have fallen short and have gone disproportionately to the wealthy, skilled and powerful — those best equipped to take advantage of the digital revolution.”

The official launch of WDR 2016 in Botswana is part of a series of regional and country-level dissemination activities following the global launch in Washington DC on January 14, 2016. A presentation by the World Bank team that authored WDR 2016 will provide an overview of the Report’s main findings and discuss how countries can gain greater economic and social benefits from digital technologies and access to the internet.

 The opening remarks at the presentations will come from Elene Imndaze, World Bank Country Manager and Alan Boshwaen, CEO, BIH. While Presentation of the World Development Report 2016 will be provided by Tim Kelly and Indhira Santos who are both World Bank report authors with other panelists who include Coach Kereteletswe who is the current  eGovernment Controller, Alan Boshwaen, CEO, BIH Tharo Pheti, Chief Executive, BOCRA.  

Meanwhile, Kenneth Matambo the Minister of Finance and Development Planning recently told a budget speech audience that Botswana Telecommunications Corporation Limited (BTCL) performed well, recording a net profit of P146.8 million in 2015, compared to P140 000 in 2014. The lower profit in 2014 for BTCL was attributed to the impairment charged for the significant drop in the value of the company, as a result of the transfer of some of its assets to BOFINET.

An Initial Public Offer (IPO) was launched in December 2015, which provided an opportunity for Batswana to own shares in BTCL. So far, the response from Batswana has been overwhelming. Eventually, the BTCL shares will be listed in the Botswana Stock Exchange to allow for their trading.

Another ICT oriented authority, the Botswana Communications Regulatory Authority also recorded a net profit of P31.7 million in 2015, a decline from P48.1 million in 2014, mainly due to a fall in operating revenues owing to tariff reductions for essential services and a rise in operating expenses due to acquisition and replacement of network equipment as well as digital migration.

The Government through Botswana Institute for Technology Research and Innovation has set-up a world class Centre for Material Sciences that will assist in the development of new materials in the water purification sector and air filtration, amongst others. 

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