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.
The new sustainability initiatives aim to contribute towards greater best practice efforts and supporting the local community
Introduction of the New Executive Chef who aligns to the sustainable food and dining experience
Gaborone, Botswana – March 29th, 2022 – Hilton Garden Inn Gaborone has officially launched its new and innovative sustainability initiatives as part of Travel with Purpose, Hilton’s Environment, Social and Governance strategy meant to redefine and advance sustainable travel globally.
The initiatives extend into the dining and culinary experience, with new Executive Chef, Shaneil Dinna, championing a new approach to food at the hotel. Hilton Garden Inn Gaborone has made deliberate efforts to incorporate local “touches” thus presenting local signature dishes on the new menu.
Beyond the new sustainable culinary approach, Hilton Garden Inn Gaborone will be implementing other initiatives such as:
Meet with Purpose – Meeting Impact Calculator – Hilton is launching Meeting Impact Calculators which uses data gathered from our Light Stay platforms in partnership with South Pole, one of the leading developers of emissions reduction projects worldwide. This is in effort to track and measure our carbon footprint, with the end goal of reducing emissions. The report produced from the calculator details the predicted carbon, energy, water, and waste generated by meetings and events.
Hilton Africa Big 5 – Through our drive to prioritise sustainable travel and tourism in Africa, Hilton has launched a campaign to focus on five key areas, namely: Wildlife Protection, Local Sourcing, Youth Opportunity, Water Stewardship and Anti-Human Trafficking. This is in line with the buy local #PushaBW campaign, which also prioritises local sourcing and youth empowerment. This initiative will be highlighted at the upcoming #PushaBW Brunch in May.
Ms. Thabani Ndlovu, General Manager at the hotel, said, “At Hilton Garden Inn Gaborone, we pride ourselves in being an establishment that exemplifies sustainable tourism, development, and leadership. The hotel is moving towards aligning itself with the Botswana national eco-tourism strategy.
We are purpose-driven and constantly strive to represent the brand’s commitment to building a sustainable environment, all the while contributing towards protecting the planet for generations to come. We have also welcomed a new team member, Executive Chef Shaneil Dinna, whose menu incorporates traditional and home-grown ingredients. He will no doubt also contribute towards recognising and preserving cultural heritage.”
Chef Shaneil brings more than 18 years of experience in an array of contrasting and complex environments within the hotelier industry. His previous roles include working at The David Livingstone Safari Lodge and Spa (in Zambia) and The Hyatt Regency in Johannesburg. Shaneil’s focus will include working to define the menu for more local food appreciation, as well as incorporating more local brands and produce into his kitchen.
With the world becoming even more aware and concerned with the impact travelling has on the environment, the hospitality industry is working towards creating a lasting positive impact on the planet. The continuation of environmental sustainability is essential for businesses such as hotels to grow and evolve – an outlook synonymous with the Hilton Garden Inn Gaborone brand.
Whether its wishes or reality that the COVID – 19 pandemic is reaching its sell – by date, one thing that we can’t deny is that it has brought in lot of changes both good and bad, likewise it has given us a different perspectives on a lot of things, and one such is the importance of a truck driver.
Looking back at those initial days when corona virus was first declared a pandemic in March 2020, not many of us knew what that meant but we were all in the lookout that Covid – 19 does not enter the countries we lived in. Governments warned and closed borders to avoid the transmission of the disease from one country to another, and only truck drivers as conveyers of essential goods and a few others were allowed to cross borders.
Truck drivers more especially as their job was to move essential goods across borders The food, the medicines, the oxygen and every single important item that was essential to keep life going, that had to be imported was brought in by a truck driver.
However, stigma developed against truck drivers as they would cross into countries that were regarded as epicentres. People assumed that the truck driver were more likely to be positive of Covid – 19. One truck driver stated how they were not even allowed enter supermarkets to buy food as communities had already diagnosed them as carriers of the corona virus.
Not only have they survived a stigma from communities in every country they entered, a lot of changes especially at border gates affected them more. Borders experienced long queues as a result of the COVID – 19 protocols that were introduced such as screening of drivers, recording personal details for contact tracing, regular testing of truck drivers as well as long waiting times for PCR test results.
There was a point during the pandemic when PCR tests had different validity periods, in South Africa, the PCR test had a validity of 30 days, in Namibia, seven days, and in Botswana only 72 hours. This had a real effect on the ground for truck drivers who were not able to do multiple entries into countries with one test, or who were unable to turn their truck around fast enough to still have the same test valid when exiting a certain jurisdiction. Furthermore, Truck drivers were faced with other challenges such as increased risks of contracting Corona virus, loss of jobs and some died from Covid19.
It was against this background that Trans Kalahari Corridor Secretariat (TKCS) together with the Walvis Bay Corridor Group (WBCG) came up with the initiative to thank truck drivers along the Trans Kalahari Corridor and on the Namibian Corridors. The Thank A Trucker campaign was sponsored by National Road Safety Council.
This campaign with which the two Corridors Management Institution showed appreciation to truck drivers by giving them a bag of usable goodies including food has grown in status since its launch in Katima Mulilo in July last year. To date the campaign has given out over 900 hampers to truck drivers in Namibia and South Africa (on the Trans Kalahari Corridor) the next campaign will be held in Botswana from the 8th to the 12th March. Windhoek is expected to host the last of the campaign in April this year.
Apart from the Thank A Trucker Campaign, The Trans Kalahari Corridor Secretariat had to put in a lot of work to ease the work of truck drivers thus facilitating trade between TKC member states. Lobbying with different member states to harmonise the Covid – 19 protocols and ease related restrictions.
This work has bared fruit as we continue to see countries relaxing some protocols with Botswana recently allowing travellers who are fully vaccinated to enter the country without a PCR test result. This will greatly contribute to agility and seamless movement of trade especially that Botswana is a transit country.
One of the projects that TKCS is a part of and was born to reduce covid19 impact on trade facilitation is the establishment and implementation of Corridor Trip Monitoring System (CTMS) in the Trans Kalahari Borders. The CTMS seeks to facilitate the continuation of cross-border trade in goods and services during the ongoing crisis occasioned by the coronavirus.
The system will further facilitate and ensure that cross-border transport and transit is performed by healthy drivers who can be constantly monitored and tracked to reduce the spread of Covid-19. CTMS will also seek to reduce extended travel and transit times during the pandemic.
The Trans Kalahari Corridor Secretariat is a tripartite trans boundary corridor management institution based in Windhoek. It was established with a political and economic vision to pursue or contribute towards deeper regional integration programmes of SADC, SACU and AUDA -NEPAD
Cell city in partnership with Orange Botswana and Tecno this week conducted the draw of their Win a Toyota Hilux 4×4 double cab competition in which Tebogo Mooka was announced as the ultimate winner.
The competition ran from the 1st of October 2021 and ended on 31st January 2022 across Cell City and Orange Botswana stores country wide.
When giving the competition background, Bokani Kgwarae who is the Sales Manager at Cell City Botswana said customers where to purchase Tecno Spark 8 for P1995.00 or the Tecno T101 which was valued at P175.00 so that they could stand a chance to win the Toyota Hilux 4×4 Double Cab.
“They needed to complete the competition entry form and attach the invoice and place them into the competition form,” she said.
Kgwarae further revealed that they collected all the competition boxes across the country both from Orange stores and Cell City stores and later conducted the draw for the three finalists in the presence of Auditors from Mazars Botswana.
“Our finalists were drawn from the pool of all competition boxes from Cell City and Orange stores,” she noted.
Meanwhile, Mooka who hails from Moshupa was the biggest winner of the competition as she walked away with a brand new Toyota Hilux 4×4 double cab. The second prize went to Letlhogonolo Onneng from Bobonong who had purchased a small tecno phone at the value of P175 securing a P 30 000 cash prize; with Keikwatlhaye Kelopi from Lecheng Village getting third prize pocketing P20 000.
Furthermore the store in partnership with Mascom conducted another draw also this week (Friday) in which they gave one lucky customer a new Toyota Land Cruiser 4.5 V8 Double Cab Promotion.
To qualify, customers were to purchase from Samsung stores, Mascom or Cell City shops and stand a chance to win a Toyota Land Cruiser 4.8 V8 Double Cab.
They needed to complete a form and attach it with the invoice for them stand a chance to become the lucky three finalists.
The winner of the new Toyota land cruiser 4.5 v8 Double Cab was Desire Mhlabi who purchased three Samsung phones; while the second prize winner was Marang Tlhokwa who secured P30,000; with Kaboyaone pocketing P20 000 for third place.