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Profile of Excellence

BOCRA-Chairperson---THEBE

CEE BULLETIN In Conversation with Ms THEBE on

BOTSWANA’s JOURNEY TOWARDS DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION

At the Botswana Communications and Regulatory Authority (BOCRA), Tsaone Ruth Thebe’s 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 Botswana’s 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 country’s 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.

Thebe’s 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 Botswana’s 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 government’s 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 BOCRA’s 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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Corporate

BOCRA Hosts Virtual Workshop on Waste from Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE)

3rd June 2021

On 26 – 29 May 2021, BOCRA, in collaboration with the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and United Nations University, hosted a virtual workshop on Waste from Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE).

Bringing together Statistics Botswana, Botswana Unified Revenue Service (BURS) and the Department of Waste Management and Pollution Control, the objective of the workshop was to equip Botswana with tools to record incoming electrical and electronic goods to better estimate the quantities of electronic waste that will be produced when these products reach their end-of-life cycle and become e-waste. Botswana, currently, does not have a legislation to address to the issue of e-waste.

Further notes

E-waste is a health and environmental hazard as products containing toxic additives or hazardous substances are mostly dumped or incinerated rather than being collected for treatment and re-use of recoverable substances. This is especially so among most of the developing countries.

E-waste includes discarded household or business items that have electrical and electronic circuitry components with a power or battery supply such as mobile phones, computers, printers, televisions irons, refrigerators, kettles etc.

The Global E-Waste Monitor 2020 report estimates that 53.6 million metric (Mt) tonnes was generated in 2019, making e-waste the fastest growing domestic waste stream. The report also indicates that only 17.4 percent of the 2019 e-waste was collected and recycled.

The ITU estimates that e-waste quantities have been rising rapidly in the past 5 years due to several factor such as rapid growth of the digital society, higher consumer demand for digital devices, short life cycles and few options for repair.

According to the ITU, e-waste is a challenge and an opportunity. The ITU calls on member states to develop legislations and strong partnerships with industry and businesses to protect human health and the environment from the consequences of inadequate handling of our discarded devices.

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Corporate

Modipane brickmaker gets boost from PPC Botswana

20th May 2021
modipane

Modipane based brickmaking company Katlego Bricks received a brand new stock brick machine and mentorship from leading cement producer PPC Botswana this past Wednesday.

“Community development is important because it provides the foundation a society builds off of to improve the lives of its citizens. It creates strong, diverse communities that can attract and keep talent, start and grow businesses, and overcome issues that arise. Katlego Bricks has been a loyal PPC Cement consumer in the Mmodipane area.

What is more impressive is that this brick yard is led and managed by a lady who understands the craft of brick making so much,” said PPC Botswana Head of Business Unit Tuelo Bolthole.

The arrival of the new brick-making machine is expected to increase productivity at the Modipane based Katlego Bricks which has been using 25 cement bags in a day and will be expected to use at least 40 bags in a day due to the new machine.

During the brick-making machine handover, Katlego Bricks and Modipane residents were also equipped with highly advanced brickmaking skills by PPC Botswana experts. Through this highly advanced mentorship, the trainees are also expected to start producing high-quality and competitive bricks.

“We have brought highly skilled experts that will be drilling you with the latest skills of molding bricks, these are experts that have worked on some of the best projects in Botswana. Remember PPC Botswana cement has also been used to build some of the iconic structures we have in Botswana such as the iTowers, Dikgatlhong dam, and the Obed Itani Chilume Stadium in Francistown. I am giving these examples to show that PPC Botswana does quality work and after this workshop, all the brickmakers involved will be producing high-quality work too,” Botlhole said.

Katlego bricks founder Patricia Katlego Mokgwa was in a jovial mood after receiving the brickmaking machine. She believes that the mentorship and machine will improve the business operations and will improve productivity in her business.

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Corporate

BOCRA donates COVID19 essentials to Primary schools in Kweneng District

26th April 2021

Botswana Communications Regulatory Authority (BOCRA) through its Corporate Social Investment initiative has donated over Five Thousand Eight Hundred (5800) washable, reversible 3-ply face masks and related COVID-19 essentials to Motswakhumo Junior Secondary School in Lentsweletau, Kopong Junior Secondary School and Letsholo Primary schools in Kopong, in the Kweneng district. The respective schools received two (2) face masks for each pupil, teacher and the rest of the staff; 25 litres of sanitiser and dispensers, all at an estimated cost of One Hundred and Eighty Nine Thousand Pula (P189,000).

Ms Tsaone Ruth Thebe, BOCRA Board Chairperson, officiated at each of the handover sessions held at the respective schools. Representing the Mmopane/Lentsweletau Constituency Office was Mr Masego Thantshane, Administration officer. Mr Puso Gaotlhobogwe, District Commissioner (Molaodi) also graced the three occasions.

BOCRA recognises its role as a corporate citizen and believes that the COVID19 pandemic calls for responsive and relevant inputs to the immediate needs of the community.

In receiving the PPEs, school authorities expressed gratitude to BOCRA, noting the dire need for PPEs in their schools. They all echoed that the gesture would go a long way in filing the gaps.

-ENDS  –

For more information, please contact:

Mr Aaron Nyelesi

Director, Broadcasting and Corporate Communications

nyelesi@bocra.org.bw

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