Information, Communications and Technology (ICT) sector has been hailed as an important instrument in enhancing human resources and creating industries of the future.
This was said by Botswana Telecommunications Corporation BTC Managing Director Anthony Masunga at the just ended Commonwealth Human Resources and Information, Communications and Technology ICT Conference in Gaborone. Held under the theme ‘the changing shape of the workforce’, the conference brought together human resource and ICT experts of the Commonwealth to deliberate and share insights on how technology can be used to enhance human resource by exploring opportunities in technological advancements as they create industries of the next generation.
When speaking at the Conference, Masunga indicated that the meeting comes at the most opportune time, saying the closer they look at digital advancements the more they get to realize that beneath the veneer of the binary code are the advancements of humanity. ‘’Let’s us capitalize on this gathering to ensure that we explore and harness the power of technology for the advancements and management of our Human Resources. As we advance in the digital era, let’s remember that we serve humanity’’ he said.
True to the theme ‘’the changing shape of the workforce’’, Botswana has identified her people as her greatest asset, Masunga further indicated. The National Human Resource Development Strategy Office, through the establishment of Human Resource Development Council HRDC, Masunga stressed has a bold and ambitious agenda to enable people to harness ICT and become globally competitive assets.
‘’the search for a knowledge-based economy is embedded and intertwined with betterment for an efficient and effective human resource; extending possibilities for the advancement of our cause as a people. Partnerships too can be forced that will help come up with solutions that work and influence a positive paradigm shift in the workforce’’.
Masunga called for experts to harness ICT saying they should reinforce their efforts and help change the entire mind-set of the 21st century employee, adding that HR scholars and experts have found new dimensions and paradigms to define their craft and empower the workforce. ‘’ICT has changed everything. It has reduced time and space and enhanced convenience on all aspects of life and industries.
We must harness digital leadership to improve the workforce and their lives. We must remember that at the very core of the complex innovative solutions that we build, there is humanity. Let’s explore and find ways of ensuring that ICT enhances HR and unlocks opportunities for modern challenges in the work place. The ever-changing workforce as this year themes attests needs our collective expertise and knowledge for forge a new era of solutions’’.
For his part, Head of Botswana Communications Regulatory Authority BOCRA Martin Mokgware said, Botswana as a country has a vision to leverage on ICT as enablers of the rest of the economy. ‘’We dream of a fully digitalised economy where ICT will mitigate the vast distances across our Kalahari Desert and Okavango Delta to enable people to benefit from the global market. However, we are conscious that for the dream to come true our people ought to possess the necessary ICT literacy, skills and knowledge. This is for the reason that we welcome every opportunity that can help us towards realizing our vision’’
When addressing the media last year, Botswana Innovation Hub Director of Marketing and Partnerships Tshepo Tsheko underlined that Botswana has the potential to increase global competitiveness of local industries. According to him, Botswana has missed out on opportunities to promote local industries to the international markets due to lack of innovation and failure to adapt to the digital revolution.
He challenged the beef and mining industry to leverage technologies to enhance traceability of products from the first until the last stage for them to be globally competitive. ‘’Botswana has failed to use ICT skills of graduates in the industry, and failed to capacitate them on the job, thus lowering the confidence of the international market on locally developed ICT products and services. Foreign investors willing to set up businesses in Botswana often question the availability of experienced technical personnel in the ICT industry.’’
In an effort to provide a platform for global ICT talents to compete and communicate, promote high-quality ICT talent development and drive the growth of a robust and sustainable ICT talent ecosystem, mobile phones company Huawei launched ICT Competition Southern Africa 2019-2020 in Botswana with five universities including University of Botswana, Botho University, Botswana Accountancy College, Botswana International University of Science and Technology as well as Botswana Open University.
The Huawei Competition will be carried out through four stages: the preliminary, national, regional and global final from November to May this year. Up to now, more than 800 students have signed up for this competition in the country. Botswana in the first stage of Huawei ICT Competition has produced fine social influence. The ICT Competition is crucial for developing ICT professionals, promoting ICT technologies, strengthening cooperation between the Huawei ICT Academy and Universities, and stimulating economic development relying on industry.
Former Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) Member of Parliament for Gaborone North, Haskins Nkaigwa has confirmed his departure from opposition fold to re-join the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP).
Nkaigwa said opposition is extremely divided and the leadership not in talking terms. “They are planning evil against each other. Nothing much will be achieved,” Nkaigwa told WeekendPost.
“I believe my time in the opposition has come to an end. It’s time to be of value to rebuilding our nation and economy of the country. Remember the BDP is where I started my political journey. It is home,” he said.
“Despite all challenges currently facing the world, President Masisi will be far with his promises to Batswana. A leader always have the interest of the people at heart despite how some decisions may look to be unpopular with the people.
“I have faith and full confidence in President Dr Masisi leadership. We shall overcome as party and nation the current challenges bedevilling nations. BDP will emerge stronger. President Masisi will always have my backing.”
Nkaigwa served as opposition legislator between 2014-2019 representing Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) under UDC banner. He joined BMD in 2011 at the height public servant strike whilst Gaborone City Deputy Mayor. He eventually rose to become the mayor same year, after BDP lost majority in the GCC.
Nkaigwa had been a member of Botswana National Front (BNF), having joined from Alliance for Progressives (AP) in 2019.
Botswana has received assistance worth over P100 million from Japanese government since 2019, making the latter of the largest donors to Botswana in recent years.
The assistance include relatively large-scale grant aid programmes such as the COVID-19 programme (to provide medical equipment; P34 million), the digital terrestrial television programme (to distribute receivers to the underprivileged, P17 million), the agriculture promotion programme (to provide agricultural machinery and equipment, P53million).
“As 2020 was a particularly difficult year, where COVID-19 hit Botswana’s economy and society hard, Japan felt the need to assist Botswana as our friend,” said Japan’s new Ambassador to Botswana, Hoshiyama Takashi.
“It is for this reason that grants of over P100 million were awarded to Botswana for the above mentioned projects.”
Japan is now the world’s fourth highest ranking donor country in terms of Official Development Assistance (ODA).
From 1991 to 2000, Japan continued as the top donor country in the world and contributed to Asia’s miracle economic development.
From 1993 onwards, the TICAD process commenced through Japan’s initiative as stated earlier. Japan’s main contribution has been in the form of Yen Loans, which are at a concessional rate, to suit large scale infrastructure construction.
“In Botswana, only a few projects have been implemented using the Yen Loan such as the Morupule “A” Power Station Rehabilitation and Pollution Abatement in 1986, the Railway Rolling Stock Increase Project in 1987, the Trans-Kalahari Road Construction Project in 1991, the North-South Carrier Water Project in 1995 and the Kazungula Bridge Construction Project in 2012,” said Ambassador Hoshiyama.
“In terms of grant aid and technical assistance, Japan has various aid schemes including development survey and master planning, expert dispatch to recipient countries, expert training in Japan, scholarships, small scale grass-roots program, culture-related assistance, aid through international organizations and so on.”
In 1993, Japan launched Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD) to promote Africa’s development, peace and security, through the strengthening of relations in multilateral cooperation and partnership.
TICAD discuss development issues across Africa and, at the same time, present “aid menus” to African countries provided by Japan and the main aid-related international organizations, United Nations (UN), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the World Bank.
“As TICAD provides vision and guidance, it is up to each African country to take ownership and to implement her own development following TICAD polices and make use of the programmes shown in the aid menus,” Ambassordor Hoshiyama noted.
“This would include using ODA loans for quality infrastructure, suited to the country’s own nation-building needs. It is my fervent hope that Botswana will take full advantage of the TICAD process.”
Since then, seven conferences where held, the latest, TICAD 7 being in 2019 at Yokohama. TICAD 7’s agenda on African development focused on three pillars, among them the first pillar being “Accelerating economic transformation and improving business environment through innovation and private sector engagement”.
“Yes, private investment is very important, while public investment through ODA (Official Development Assistance) still plays an indispensable role in development,” the Japanese Ambassador said.
“For further economic development in Africa, Japan recognizes that strengthening regional connectivity and integration through investment in quality infrastructure is key.”
Japan has emphasized the following; effective implementation of economic corridors such as the East Africa Northern Corridor, Nacala Corridor and West Africa Growth Ring; Quality infrastructure investment in line with the G20 Principles for Quality Infrastructure Investment should be promoted by co-financing or cooperation through the African Development Bank (AfDB) and Japan.
Japan also emphasized the establishment of mechanisms to encourage private investment and to improve the business environment.
According to the statistics issued by Japan’s Finance Ministry, Japan invested approximately 10 billion US dollars in Africa after TICAD 7 (2019) to year end 2020, but Japanese investment through third countries are not included in this figure.
“With the other points factored in, the figure isn’t established yet,” Ambassador Hoshiyama said.
The next conference, TICAD 8 will be held in Tunisia in 2022. This will be the second TICAD summit to be held on the African continent after TICAD 6 which was held in Nairobi, Kenya, in 2016.
According to Ambassador Hoshiyama, in preparation for TICAD 8, the TICAD ministerial meeting will be held in Tokyo this year. The agenda to be discussed during TICAD 8 has not yet been fully deliberated on amongst TICAD Co-organizers (Japan, UN, UNDP, the World Bank and AU).
“Though not officially concluded, given the world situation caused by COVID-19, I believe that TICAD 8 will highlight health and medical issues including the promotion of a Universal Health Coverage (UHC),” said Hoshiyama.
“As the African economy has seriously taken a knock by COVID-19, economic issues, including debt, could be an item for serious discussion.”
The promotion of business is expected to be one of the most important topics. Japan and its partners, together with the business sector, will work closely to help revitalize private investment in Africa.
“All in all, the follow-up of the various programs that were committed by the Co-Organizers during the Yokohama Plan of Actions 2019 will also be reviewed as an important item of the agenda,” Ambassador Hoshiyama said.
“I believe that this TICAD follow-up mechanism has secured transparency and accountability as well as effective implementation of agreed actions by all parties. The guiding principle of TICAD is African ownership and international partnership.”
Directorate on Intelligence Services (DIS) Director General, Brigadier Peter Magosi is said to be hell-bent and pushing President Mokgweetsi Masisi to reshuffle his cabinet as a matter of urgency since a number of his ministers are conflicted.
The request by Magosi comes at a time when time is ticking on his contract which is awaiting renewal from Masisi.
This publication learns that Magosi is unshaken by the development and continues to wield power despite uncertainty hovering around his contractual renewal.