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BTC strategic focus to 2020 espouses technology

The strategic intent pursued by Botswana Telecommunications is to create shareholder value and gain competitive advantage through the delivery of innovative solutions, increasing mobile and broadband market share, and to fix the basics in order to deliver a superior customer experience.

BTC has identified five broad thematic areas central to execute this intent. These key result areas are innovation, customer experience, efficiency, growth and a high-performance culture. BTC growth will be driven by an improved mobile and broadband customer experience, new products, and new market growth both locally and regionally. Innovation is anticipated to develop new products and lines of business that gives the company a competitive advantage, while at the same time BTC seeks to transform itself into a high performing company that is characterised by superior leadership ability and talented people who are results oriented.

The group’s three-year strategic focus to 2020 remains one of growth and transformation, themed around technology, commercial and culture. As for the technological transformation, BTC is transforming and modernising its network at the same time improving the quality of user experience. The company says it continuously invest in its networks in order to give its customers the widest coverage, fastest speeds and the best network quality, while making its services more affordable. Investing in the latest generation network technology allows the company to lower operating costs while improving their capacity to handle increased traffic volumes.

Further, BTC indicated that its approach to the market is segment based, as it wants to engage with customers and gather essential insights to improve its value proposition and provide a seamless customer experience. BTC has developed an integrated commercial strategy with the intent of growing revenue and gaining its market share and it seeks to transform into a high performing company that is characterised by superior leadership ability as well as results oriented people with the requisite skills.

According to BTC Annual report 2019 released this week, the company has identified strategic programmes to anchor the three transformation pillars. Converged billing being the first strategic programme has seen phase 1 of the platform being implemented in March 2018. Mobile prepaid, mobile post-paid and fixed prepaid platforms were migrated. Migration of fixed post-paid customers was implemented in June 2019.

As part of the BTC digitisation program, Data Centre and IT infrastructure Consolidation project was commercially launched in March 2019, and there has since been an increase in uptake of customers hosted in the Data Centre. Investment in the Mobile Broadband network is achieving the desired results of improved quality of customer experience, and BTC has rolled out 281 sites to date. The deployment of MBB has resulted in BTC 4G being the best in the country, both in terms of coverage footprint and download speed.

This has led to an upsurge in mobile data usage and an increase in 4G subscriptions. The quality of voice service on the mobile network has also improved and exceeded set targets with reductions in network congestion rates and drop call rates. In the Fixed Broadband space, BTC says it has deployed and commissioned a total of 81 Fibre to the Cabinet FTTC nodes in Gaborone, Francistown, Kasane and Maun, and has extended Fibre to the Home FTTH in Phakalane Golf Estate and Gaborone North, providing fibre-based connectivity to hundreds of households.

The FTTx service was launched in major centres and customers are now able to experience high-speed internet connectivity. The company further indicated that it upgraded its VSAT system to a state-of-the-art platform which is capable of delivering high speed and affordable internet connectivity up to 50Mbps. As a result, of improved service quality, BTC noted that it has seen an increase in customer retention. VSAT service, the group claims, has seen increased uptake particularly from farming communities, as well as tourism and hospitality facilities countrywide.

The roll-out of the 4G sites, according to the report, enabled BTC to introduce new mobile data products targeted to different segments of the market. ‘’we launched new propositions such as Live Social bundles, revamped turn up bundles and video bundles. For post-paid we were able to offer customers Pro connect bundles which offers them a range of bundles, voice and an option of 4G high-end device’’ reads the report

Moreover, BTC has launched its money financial service called SMEGA. ‘’this allows customers to deposit or withdraw money, pay bills, buy electricity and airtime from their wallet. The service has a bank to wallet feature and a new innovation called Motshelo group as well as bulk payments. We have also introduced mobile app that gives customer’s convenience to access our services through their phones and online application for services’’.  Efforts to improve customer experience for the company are beginning to bear fruit, a s following an introduction of a day service, customer satisfaction index improved from 66% to 68%. The service is aimed at improving customer service turnaround times.

 BTC continued to enhance the ability of the transmission network to support the radio access network by connecting more base radio stations with fibre and high-speed IP microwave transmission, thus improving the quality of service and extending access. This is according to the company’s Annual Report 2019 released this week.

 The continual enhancement of the telecommunications environment is a basis for competitiveness in the sector and is an important element of improving customer experience and ensuring customer satisfaction. As a customer-centric and proactive mobile network operator, BTC says it has implemented an integrated Fault Management and Performance Management Solution as a strategic initiative of the integrated network management platform. This was done to improve the quality of and ensure overall visibility of the network performance. Continual monitoring of these has helped in guiding the installation of additional capacity to where it is most needed, thereby resolving capacity constraints.

BTC network coverage continues to be the widest in the country and covers over 96% of the population. BTC has significantly increased its LTE coverage footprint, covering urban and semi urban locations and village across the country, with over 365 sites commissioned as at end of the year under review. Additional sites will be deployed during the 2019/2020 financial year to address coverage gaps and for densification in the two cities, Gaborone and Francistown. BTC has also improved its fixed broadband services with fibre to the ‘’X’’ deployed in urban areas. The company stressed that it commissioned its VSAT service that uses a High Throughput Satellite delivery high speed broadband connectivity across the country.

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Plight of GBV amid Covid-19

26th November 2020
16-days-of-activism

The United Nation’s UNiTE campaign has marked the beginning of 16 days of activism against Gender-based Violence which will end in December 10 2020, under the global theme, “Orange the world: Fund, Respond, Prevent, Collect!”

The UN Secretary-General’s UNiTE by 2030 to End Violence against Women campaign (UNiTE campaign), managed by UN Women — is a multi-year effort aimed at preventing and eliminating violence against women and girls around the world.

The UN Women’s generation equality campaign emphasises the call for global action to bridge funding gaps, ensure essential services for survivors of violence during the COVID-19 crisis, focus on prevention, and collection of data that can improve life-saving services for women and girls.

Furthermore, the UN Secretary General’s report maintains that this year is like no other. Even before Covid-19 hit, violence against women and girls had reached pandemic proportions.

Globally, according to United Nations, 243 million women and girls were abused by an intimate partner in the past year.

Meanwhile, less than 40 percent of women who experience violence report it or seek help.

Evidently they suggest that as countries implemented lockdown measures to stop the spread of the coronavirus, violence against women, especially domestic violence, intensified- in some countries, calls to helplines have increased five-fold.

“In others, formal reports of domestic violence have decreased as survivors find it harder to seek help and access support through the regular channels. School closures and economic strains left women and girls poorer, out of school and out of jobs, and more vulnerable to exploitation, abused, forced marriage, and harassment,” said the UN.

According to the UN, in April 2020 as the pandemic spread across the world, the UN Secretary-General called for “peace at home”, and 146 member states responded with their strong statement of commitment.

“In recent months 135 countries have strengthened actions and resources to address violence against women as part of the response to Covid-19. Yet, much more is needed,” said the report.

Moreover, they submit that as today, although the voices of activists and survivors have reached a crescendo that cannot be silenced or ignored, ending violence against women will require more investment, leadership and action.

“It cannot be sidelined; it must be part of every country’s national response, especially during the unfolding COVID-19 crisis,” contended the UN report.

For the 16 Days of Activism, UN Women handed over the mic to survivors, activists and UN partners on the ground, to tell the story of what happened after COVID-19 hit.

According to Dubravka Šimonovic, special rapporteur on violence against women, there is urgent need to end pandemic of femicide and violence against women.

Ahead of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, she emphasizes that as the world grapples with the devastating impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and its negative impact on women, a pandemic of femicide and gender-based violence against women is taking the lives of women and girls everywhere.

Therefore, she is calling on all States and relevant stakeholders worldwide to take urgent steps to prevent the pandemic of femicide or gender related killings of women, and gender-based violence against women, through the establishment of national multidisciplinary prevention bodies or femicide watches/observatories on violence against women.

These bodies should be mandated to 1) collect comparable and disaggregated data on femicide or gender-related killings of women; 2) conduct an analysis of femicide cases to determine shortcomings, and recommend measures for the prevention of such cases, and 3) ensure that femicide victims are not forgotten by holding days of remembrance.

“Data this mandate has collected since 2015 through my Femicide Watch initiative corroborates the data available from the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, and indicates that among the victims of all intentional killings involving intimate partners, more than 80% of victims are women.  Many of these femicides are preventable. Since 2015, a growing number of States have either established femicide watches or observatories, and in an increasing number of countries, it is the independent human rights institutions, civil society organizations, women’s groups and/or academic institutions that have established femicide watches or observatories,” she argued.

GBV in Botswana

UNFDP (United Nations Population Fund) Botswana cites that, locally over 67 percent of women have experienced abuse, which is over double the global average.

“Gender-based violence undermines the health, dignity, security and autonomy of its victims, yet it remains shrouded in a culture of silence and normalization. Victims of violence, the majority of which are women and girls, can suffer sexual and reproductive health consequences, including forced and unwanted pregnancies, sexually transmitted infections including HIV, and even death,” indicated UNFDP

In his 2020 State of the Nation Address (SONA) he delivered on Monday 9th November at the Gaborone International Convention Centre (GICC), President Mokgweetsi Masisi said government is concerned about the snowballing of GBV incidences, saying, they have prioritized drafting of a Sexual Offenders Bill to be tabled during the sitting of the 12th Parliament.

“The Bill will establish a Sex Offenders’ Registry to record and publicise names and particulars of all persons convicted of sexual offences. To date twelve districts have set up the District Gender Committees in Chobe, Kweneng, Kgatleng, Kgalagadi, Maun, Serowe, Selibe-Phikwe, North East, Bobirwa Sub District, Mabutsane Sub District, Goodhope Sub District as well as Mahalapye Sub District. These committees will promote gender equality and women’s empowerment, and also address gender based violence,” Masisi said.

The President highlighted that the Botswana Police Service, which has been dealing a lot with GBV cases has taken swift action and introduced a Toll-Free number for reports on gender based violence. He further indicated that the Police will establish a Gender and Child Protection Unit

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Transgender persons in Botswana live a miserable life

23rd November 2020
Transgender persons

An international report complied in South Africa dubbed ‘Legal Gender Recognition in Botswana’ says that the transgender and gender non-conforming people in Botswana live a miserable life. The community experiences higher levels of discrimination, violence and ill health.

In this report, it has been indicated that this is because their gender identity, which does not conform to narrowly define societal norms, renders them more vulnerable. Gender identity is a social determinant of health, which means that it is a factor that influences people’s health via their social context, their communities and their experiences of social exclusion. The Ministry of Health and Wellness has recognized this, and transgender people are considered a vulnerable population under the Botswana Second National Strategic Framework for HIV and AIDS 2010-2017.

In a recent study that shed light on the lived experiences of transgender and gender non-conforming people in Botswana, transgender persons often experience discrimination because of their gender identity and expression. The study was conducted by the University of Cape Town, LEGABIBO, BONELA, as well as Rainbow Identity Association and approved by the Health Ministry as well as the University of Botswana.

Of the 77 transgender and gender non-conforming people who participated in the study, less than half were employed. Two thirds, which is approximately 67% said that they did not have sufficient funds to cover their everyday needs. Two in five had hidden health concerns from their healthcare provider because they were afraid to disclose their gender identity.

More than half said that because of their gender identity, they had been treated disrespectfully at a healthcare facility (55%), almost half (46%) said they had been insulted at a healthcare facility, and one quarter (25%) had been denied healthcare because of their gender identity.

At the same time, the ‘Are we doing right’ study suggests that transgender and non-conforming people might be at higher risks of experiencing violence and mental ill-health, compared to the general population. More than half had experienced verbal embarrassment because of their gender identity, 48% had experienced physical violence and more than one third (38%) had experienced sexual violence.

The study showed that mental health concerns were high among transgender and gender non-conforming people in Botswana. Half of the transgender and gender non-conforming study participants (53%) showed signs of depression. Between one in four and one in six showed signs of moderate or severe anxiety (22% among transgender women, 24% among transgender men and 17% among gender non-conforming people).

Further, the study revealed that many had attempted suicide: one in three transgender women (32%), more than one in three transgender men (35%) and three in five gender non-conforming people (61%).

International research, as well as research from Botswana, suggests that not being able to change one’s gender marker has a negative impact on access to healthcare and mental health and wellbeing. The study further showed that one in four transgender people in Botswana (25%) had been denied access to healthcare. This is, at least in part, linked to not being able to change one’s gender marker in the identity documents, and thus not having an identity document that matches one’s gender identity and gender expression.

In its Assessment of Legal and Regulatory Framework for HIV, AIDS and Tuberculosis, the Health Ministry noted that “transgender persons in Botswana are unable to access identity documents that reflect their gender identity, which is a barrier to health services, including in the context of HIV. In one documented case, a transwoman’s identity card did not reflect her gender identity- her identity card photo indicated she was ‘male’. When she presented her identity card at a health facility, a health worker called the police who took her into custody.”

The necessity of a correct national identity document goes beyond healthcare. The High Court of Botswana explains that “the national identity document plays a pivotal role in every Motswana’s daily life, as it links him or her with any service they require from various institutions. Most activities in the country require every Motswana to produce their identity document, for identification purposes of receiving services.”

According to the Legal Gender Recognition in Botswana report, this effectively means that transgender, whose gender identity and expression is likely to be different from the sex assigned to them at birth and from what is recorded on their identity document, cannot access services without risk of denial or discrimination, or accusations of fraud.

In this context, gays and lesbians advocacy group LEGABIBO has called on government through the Department of Civil and National Registration to urgently implement the High Court rulings on gender marker changes. As stated by the High Court in the ND vs Attorney General of Botswana judgement, identity cards (Omang) play an important role in the life of every Motswana. Refusal and or delay to issue a Motswana with an Omang is denying them to live a complete and full-filing life with dignity and violates their privacy and freedom of expression.

The judgement clarified that persons can change their gender marker as per the National Registrations Act, so changing the gender marker is legally possible. There is no need for a court order. It further said the person’s gender is self-identified, there is no need to consult medical doctors.

LEGABIBO also called on government to develop regulations that specify administrative procedure to change one’s gender marker, and observing self-determination process. Further, the group looks out for government to ensure members of the transgender community are engaged in the development of regulations.

“We call on this Department of Civil and National Registration to ensure that the gender marker change under the National Registration Act is aligned to the Births and Deaths Registry Act to avoid court order.

Meanwhile, a gay man in Lobatse, Moabi Mokenke was recently viciously killed after being sexually violated in the streets of Peleng, shockingly by his neighbourhood folks. The youthful lad, likely to be 29-years old, met his fate on his way home, from the wearisome Di a Bowa taverns situated in the much populated township of Peleng Central.

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Khato Civils fights back, dares detractors

23rd November 2020
Khato-civil

CEO of Khato Civils Mongezi Mnyani has come out of the silence and is going all way guns blazing against the company’s adversaries who he said are hell-bent on tarnishing his company’s image and “hard-earned good name”

Speaking to WeekendPost from South Africa, Mnyani said it is now time for him to speak out or act against his detractors. Khato Civils has done several projects across Africa. Khato Civils, a construction company and its affiliate engineering company, South Zambezi have executed a number of world class projects in South Africa, Malawi and now recently here in Botswana.

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