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Profile of Excellence

CEE BULLETIN In Conversation with Ms THEBE on

BOTSWANAs JOURNEY TOWARDS DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION

At the Botswana Communications and Regulatory Authority (BOCRA), Tsaone Ruth Thebes chairmanship is not by mistake; She is an accomplished Administrator and Manager, with extensive experience in directing the human resources, finance, administration as well as policies in the public sector for over 30 years.

It is under her leadership as Permanent Secretary – Ministry of Lands & Housing, that Government introduced the Land Administration Procedures, Capacity and Systems (LAPCAS) Programme encompassing land administration processes, computerisation of land records, land registration and capacity building; She also served as the Permanent Secretary of the then Ministry of Transport & Communications, whose mandate included eGov and supervision of BOCRA, which she now leads as Board Chairperson

She successfully managed large organizations with employees of between 5 000 to 20,000 people. She also managed development and recurrent budgets in excess of P2 billion. At present, Thebe is but a captain of Botswanas digital transformation strategy at BOCRA. As the Board Chair, her mandate is, among others, to: promote and ensure enhanced performance in the communications sector, the very sector central to the countrys digital transformation.

Further to that, she is mandated to ensure that BOCRA imposes a universal access and service levy on identified operators for purpose of funding universal access to communications as well as promote and ensure universal access in respect to provision of communications services and effective regulation of the regulated sectors.

It is no small task. In this era of the Fourth industrial Revolution (4IR), where the world is racing towards digital transformation, only a strong and visionary leader could be mandated with such a task. Thebe is one of the first women in Botswana to be entrusted with such a mammoth task. It can only prove her as a leader extraordinaire.

She leads a Board that is mandated to, among others; promote and ensure enhanced performance in the communications sector; impose a universal access and service levy on identified operators for purpose of funding universal access to communications; promote and ensure universal access in respect to provision of communications services; and effective regulation of regulated sectors.

Most importantly, BOCRA regulates the entire communications industry, a multi-billion Pula industry which envelopes three giant mobile phone companies; Further, BOCRA regulates private radio stations. The Authority also regulates several. Internet Service Providers (ISPs) in Botswana. Thebe joined the BOCRA board in March 2020, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Thebes arrival at BOCRA is rather complemented by her vast experience in governance, administration, management, strategic leadership and most importantly project development and implementation. Having been part of a team that enabled the births of Botswanas LAPCAS and e-Government projects, her appointment could not have been more relevant.

I knew that with my experience I would help enhance access to communication in Botswana, which is key in governments digitization plans, she opines. It was more so because her appointment came at a time when COVID-19 had just struck. Botswana at that time experienced its first lockdown. The economy was at a standstill, compelling almost all sectors to innovate and run businesses through digital means. Although COVID-19 disrupted BOCRAs planned projects, Thebe and her team were not discouraged, for they knew, the time to innovate had come.

With the entire communications industry under her stewardship, Thebe and her team, influenced for data and broadband prices to be reduced to enhance affordability. The mobile phone companies obliged, which led to ease of access to information in Botswana, especially during COVID-19 where social distance physical interactions impossible. Mobile phone penetration and data usage soared as a result.

BOCRA PROJECTS IMPLEMENTED DESPITE COVID-19

Thebe says the Universal Access Service Fund (UASF) is a funding instrument designed to achieve universal access through monies collected from identified communications service providers. She adds that the Fund periodically develops strategic plans which guide the development and implementation of specific projects to assist in achieving ubiquitous services.

Although it is overseen and managed by BOCRA, it is an independent Fund, governed through the Board of Trustees. The UASF seeks to ensure that all Batswana have access to a set of basic yet essential communications services at affordable prices.

While guarding against market distortions, the Fund focuses its assistance on areas which are beyond the reach of communications services, enabling underserved and unserved communities to connect with other populations and take advantage of the opportunities and benefits that come with access to broadband Internet and other ICT services, explains Thebe.

To fulfil this mandate, the UASF periodically develops strategic plans that outline priority programmes or projects that would require financial assistance. This is done in consultation with industry stakeholders. Three key areas previously are schools connectivity, expansion of Voice Coverage and Expansion of Voice Coverage for Private Broadcasters.

Through the UASF Fund, one of the projects which BOCRA implemented was connectivity in 68 schools in the Kgalagadi, Mabutsane and Gantsi area. Currently, BOCRA is busy connecting schools in the Kweneng area. We expect 119 schools to be connected. Our aim is to ensure that in areas which are beyond the reach of communications services, we bring connectivity, she notes, adding that connectivity is also extended in some instances to commercial areas like farms.

BOCRA through the fund, according to Thebe, also subsidises private radio stations to ensure connectivity in areas where to the radio stations, there is no commercial value. What we want to do, which also in line with the United Nations (UN) requirements, is to ensure that in all parts of Botswana, there is a certain minimum requirement of communication. asserts Thebe.

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Sister In Law Empowers Women through Law

4th August 2023

This past weekend, Botswana‘s ambassador of Sister in law movement hosted 120 attendants for the I am Lady Justice Workshop. The workshop is said to empower women through legal education.

The topics that were discussed during the workshop included; Marriage, divorce, child maintenance, wills, employment law, cyber law and financial literacy.

Sister in law is a movement from South Africa that was founded in 2018 by attorney Tebello Motshwane.

Giving a background of how the movement started in Botswana, Tebele said she was inspired by her shared vision with the founder of sister in law to empower women through legal education.

“I came to learn about sister in law through social media. I flew down to Johannesburg to attend the first sister in law workshop in March 2019, met with Tebello, the founder and gelled. The rest is history. I am now the Botswana ambassador of sister in law” Tebele said.

ABOUT SISTER IN LAW

When giving her remarks, founder of the sister in law Tebello Motshwane revealed that her mother’s divorce inspired her to start the movement.

“Sister in law started as a Blog and was inspired by my own mother who went through a divorce so I became very interested in studying the law because my grandfather always advised me to study law so I can understand why certain things happened when going through a divorce.”

She said after studying law she started the platform as a way to ensure that other women will never find themselves in the position that her mother was left in –divorced with two minor kids in Johannesburg not knowing where to start.

“Some of the information is crucial so you would wonder why women are being disempowered because they cannot afford a legal consultation. So I decided to make this information available online so women can be empowered.”

Motshwane further alluded that the project is a personal passion that she took on to herself to say that the next women who could not afford an attorney would at least have a direction a guide to start.

“Women are already there browsing through make-up, jokes, tick tock so you may as well be empowered as well, so that’s how sister in law came about.”

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Wine enthusiasts gear up for an unforgettable adventure at the First Wine Show

26th May 2023

First National Bank Botswana (FNBB) is pleased to announce that the highly anticipated First Wine Show is back, and wine enthusiasts are in for a memorable experience this weekend from Friday 26th May 2023 to Saturday 27th May 2023 at Molapo Piazza. The annual event brings together wine enthusiasts to indulge in a world of flavours and connect with fellow connoisseurs and experts in a great ambiance. “We are excited to host and interact with wine lovers this weekend and promote the lifestyle brand that FNBB is. This event gives us an opportunity to mingle with our stakeholders in a relaxed atmosphere of great wine coupled with the best culinary experience,” said FNBB Director of Retail, Ms Monkgogi Mogorosi. She also mentioned that the event promises to be a remarkable fusion of refined tastes, cultural appreciation, and captivating interactions and provide attendees with a great experience, highlighting that the Bank has partnered with Tamasa Trading to make this possible. The two-day event will start with an exclusive invite only engagement for Premier and Private clients which affords the Bank an opportunity to unpack its value proposition while promoting networking amongst attendees. This will be followed by the Saturday engagement open to wine lovers by purchasing tickets for only P 250. There will be 100 different types of wines available from 13 privately owned wineries ensuring the quality and exclusivity of the wines. Patrons will be spoilt for choice with multiple internationally awarded wines and South African award-winning wines available for tasting. All the wines available for tasting will also be for sale at the event at special prices. The wine show is expected to attract a large crowd as it is one of the most sought out lifestyle events in the calendar.

Patrons can purchase tickets at the below selected outlets: • Riverwalk – Webtickets Kiosk • Online- www.webtickets.co.bw • Maru-a-Pula School- Maitisong • Spar Stores – Kgale, Broadhurst, Molepolole, Mochudi, Airport Junction, Village, Maun Delta, Nswazi, Nzano, Serowe, RailPark, Kanye, Acacia, Kgabo, • Mahalapye, Palapye Junction, Boiteko, Orapa, Kasane, Lobatse, Tsolamosese, Gantsi, The Fields, Marang, Letlhakane and Mafenyatlala. • Choppies Stores – Westgate Mall Gaborone, Selebi Phikwe Mall, Tsabong, Jwaneng, Tati Town Francistown, Metsimotlhabe, Zeerust Road Lobatse.

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Orange Botswana Continues to Invest in the Youth Through Digital Schools Programme, Celebrating Thankane as 52nd School Engaged

3rd October 2022

In continued efforts to empower young students across Botswana through the Digital Schools Programme, Orange Botswana through the Orange Foundation don handed over digital equipment worth P53, 731.50 to Thankane Primary School, located in Jwaneng.

We are excited to be in Jwaneng and to see yet another milestone for impact being delivered. This relationship began with a view towards working together inclusively and sustainably – give children greater access to quality education. This is, after all, a key goal within our Vision 2036 and even of the UN Sustainable Development Goals. It is also core to our values and beliefs system at Orange Botswana. Our Digital Schools initiative is a true testament to the Orange Botswana Foundations unwavering commitment, loyalty, and support towards the youth of Botswana, said Benson Lenong from Orange Botswana.

Donated equipment includes but is not limited to:

  • 50 tablets loaded with local syllabus content
  • 50 headsets
  • 1 Video projector
  • 1 Raspberry servers
  • 1 JBL Speaker
  • 1 Laptop
  • 1 Case (to contain the package)

The Orange Botswana Foundation, in partnership with the Government of the Republic Botswana, embarked on a quest to empower and educate the youth of the country through giving them better access to technology through Governments Education & Training Sector Strategic Plan (ETSSP). Orange Botswana signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Ministry of Basic Education and Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development in 2017, to kickstart a pilot of the Digital Schools Programme in 2018. The programme has seen 16,225 students benefiting from deployed schools, with 102 teachers trained in using digital kits as a mode of teaching. Thankane Primary is the 52nd school being engaged as part of the nationwide initiative.

The Orange Digital Schools Project is all about utilisation and integration of ICTs in learning, while at the same time addressing issues of digital inclusion and digital literacy. The Programme aims to bridge the digital gap by leveraging technology to improve access to education in primary schools such as Thankane.

Thankane Primary School was established in 1989 with 324 learners enrolled from Jwaneng and surrounding communities. The school continues to perform well in the Primary School Leaving Examinations (PSLE), and consistently works to ensure children learn vital life lessons both inside and outside the classroom. As one of the highest-ranked academic schools in the South region, Thankane Primary boasts excellent academics, leadership, sports, and culture.

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