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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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GATA LE RONA Comes To Completion

6th September 2021
BPOPF

The Botswana Public Officers Fund (BPOPF) is now mandated by law to have pension fund administration and investment management conducted by independent licensed entities.

This means that these functions must be fully outsourced. This became necessary due to the enacting by Parliament of the Retirement Funds Act in 2014 (RFA Act) and the promulgation of subsidiary legislation governing the RFA Act by the Non-Bank Financial Institutions Regulatory Authority (NBIFIRA).

Therefore, the outsourcing project name coded Gata Le Rona journey comes to completion as the BPOPF hands over fund administration outsourcing services to NMG Administrators Botswana. NMG Administrators Botswana will be collecting contributions on behalf of the BPOPF, maintain all Member records, payment of claims, permit any excess cash to the BPOPF for investment and manage pensioner payroll. The BPOPF remains committed to building brighter futures together.

Following a significant 19-month long transition journey, the Botswana Public Officers Pension Fund (BPOPF), officially handed over fund administration services to NMG Administrators Botswana, as the outsourcing project comes to fruition. The project, which began in October 2019, commenced following amendments to the Retirement Funds Act (Section 15 (i).

Effective 2 June 2021, NMG Administrators Botswana will collect contributions on behalf of the BPOPF, maintain all Member records, payment of claims, permit any excess cash to the BPOPF for investment and manage pensioner payroll.

Noted CEO of the BPOPF, Mr. Moemedi Malindah, “This is a large-scale project and one we are proud to say was managed with the utmost diligence, with our Members at heart in all that we did and indeed continue to do. The BPOPF continues to engage all key stakeholders to ensure this transition is a smooth one.

Members can be rest assured that their pensions and benefits are not affected as NMG Administrators Botswana takes over the day-to-day fund administration tasks. This is a bright new chapter and we are more than ready and confident in the future.”

NMG Administrators Botswana is a joint venture between Lecha Administration (a company owned 100% by the BPOPF) and NMG South Africa. Lecha Administration owns 51% shares and NMG South Africa owns 49% shares in NMG Administrators Botswana.

“Re a leboga, Batswana, for your patience and support; especially our valued Members. We remain committed to investing in your golden years and building a brighter future together,” concluded Malindah.

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BSB Expands towards financial inclusion

6th September 2021

“As part of the bank’s quest to fulfil its financial inclusion mandate, Botswana Savings Bank (BSB) has focused more on expanding its footprint across the country to take its services to the communities it serves during the 2020 fiscal period” said Nixon Marumoloa, the Bank’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO).

According to the CEO, BSB’s focus in 2020 was expansion, visibility, continued mobilization and delivery of its inclusive finance agenda to provide simple, appropriate and accessible financial solutions to the under-served in a sustainable manner.

“In order to achieve our goal, the bank had to make compromises on some of our short-term goals in order to fulfil long term solutions to our customers. In advancing the bank’s financial inclusion agenda, we are proud to announce that BSB launched four (4) Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) in Gaborone, Mogoditshane, Old Naledi and Bokaa. This is in partial fulfillment of our strategy and commitment to our communities to ensure that our products and services are accessible to all. It gives us pride to be the sole service provider in these areas where financial services were previously non- existent,” Marumoloa said.

Botswana Savings Bank is currently approaching the final year of its strategic period of 2016-2021.  Marumoloa said BSB is now more determined to ensure that the Bank totally transforms to provide life events, cradle to grave products through digitised service channels for all income groups in Botswana and beyond.

Improved products will be launched into the market during 2021, moving on to 2022. The highlight product for the new financial year, according to the CEO is the Pensioners Loan facility.

“This product will ensure that the marginalised senior citizens continue to have financial freedom and access to financial services during their years of retirement,” he noted.

Further, the BSB CEO added that it is in the final year of the strategic period that the digitisation and integration programme will be executed and partially completed, with some elements overlapping into the following financial year. He said Point of Sales Machines will be deployed across the bank’s network to enable the phasing out of passbooks which will be replaced with Visa enabled BSB Debit Cards.

“As other banks close branches, we will open new branches and service points across the country to ensure we live up to our mandate of financial inclusion,” he stated.

The History of BSB stretches back more than 20 years. The bank has since experienced transformational growth, moving from a traditional bank to a 21st century financial institution with independent branches in Gaborone, Francistown, Serowe, Mahalapye and Hukuntsi.

The BSB Chairman Mr Kealeboga Molelowatladi added that BSB continues to increase its physical proximity to its customers as part of its financial inclusion mandate which has been embedded into the bank’s corporate strategy.

“Ultimately, our goal is to increase our footprint and brand visibility as we provide affordable savings solutions across the country,” he expanded.  Moreover, Mr Molelowatladi highlighted that The Bank is determined to ensure that it delivers on it’s five-year strategic plan by end of 2021.  He noted that the bank has embarked on various long-term projects that are currently work in progress.

These projects are part of the bank’s growth strategy with a focus to increase our footprint in Botswana.

Mr Molelowatladi stated that, this includes the opening of new branches across the country to ensure that BSB’s services are accessible to all Batswana.

However, he revealed that a major drawback in implementing the bank’s strategy was lack of integration of systems. As a solution however, he affirmed that the Bank is working on implementing new systems to improve the bank’s efficiency and effectiveness.

“We are looking forward to the phasing out of the traditional passbooks as we introduce digital channels and automate our processes for customer convenience. We remain confident that despite the rapid changes in our economic environment, our strategic priorities will enable us to drive sustainable growth for our business,’ he said.

During the same period, he also revealed that the bank identified a superior banking system that will be implemented and rolled out by 2021. He said, this banking system shall be the backbone in the bank’s digital transformation.  In his views, it is through this system that the bank will optimize its internal processes to provide a sound value proposition to Batswana and improve profitability of the bank by reducing the cost to income ratio.

The Bank continues to be profitable, with the year ended 31 March 2021 returning a modest profit after tax of P5.2 million due to pressure on both revenue and rising costs. Although the result could be easily read as a regression on the results of the year before, a simple reduction of the government grant received in the previous year paints a picture of a bank that is set to realize an improvement in its operating margins when measured by a significant growth in advances. The bank’s balance sheet continues to grow year on year.

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, hinderances have become quite the norm but the Bank has managed to persevere and remain true to its strategic objectives. This reflects the undeniable resilience and the progressive leadership that is at the helm of the Bank. The expansion plans that are underway are a harbinger of the growth and success that BSB is on the verge of achieving.

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Botswana Post introduces the -VIRTUAL POST BOX (VPB)

6th September 2021

As part of its promise to making service delivery convenient for its customers, BotswanaPost introduces its newest offering geared at enhancing the traditional post box as we know it.

This is also in line with our concerted efforts of making a significant impact in the digitization of doing business in Botswana as envisioned by our shareholder, the government of Botswana. In fulfilling our mandate to provide universal postal access to all, Virtual Post Box is a merging of our core mandate – provision of postal services in an efficient and cost effective manner.

The Virtual Post Box affords customers to register their mobile phone numbers to be used as their designated Post Box number to receive mail and related services from BotswanaPost. The customer’s mobile number will be linked to a post office of their choice for mail delivery. Furthermore, the customer also has a choice to opt for home/office delivery.

This is a departure from the commonly known traditional postal box characterized by the uniquely addressable, lockable box located on the premises of a Post Office station. Post Office boxes are rented by individuals or by businesses on an annual basis and the cost of rent vary depending on the type of box (Private, Individual etc.)

This offering is of value especially to Small, medium and Micro Enterprises (SMMEs) as it provides them with the capacity to operate as one stop shops. The Virtual Post Box places clients at the forefront of technology, resulting in reliability of unmatched customer service.

The unique development of the Virtual Post Box fits into our strategy of bringing services to our customers with ease.  The service comes in at a time when the world is still dealing with the COVID – 19 pandemic and ensuring we operate within the prescribed protocol. This has necessitated transformation into the digital space.”  Chief Commercial Officer – Clifford Lekoko

“The virtual Post Box is in line with our Mission of “Providing affordable convenience through high quality profitable postal and diversified products and services” where we leverage on technology as a major business sustainability anchor in the face of diminishing traditional postal business. This will facilitate and enable E-Commerce for the diverse market we serve as it gives the customer power in terms of cost and tracking of one’s mail.”- General Manager Courier & Mail Business – Tumelo Mereyotlhe.

What’s key to note about this new service ;

  • Gives customers a smart and convenient way to manage their postal mail remotely
  • Its more affordable compared to the normal postal box
  • Saves customers time to visit the postal branch due to mail incoming notifications
  • Gives Customers an opportunity to re – direct mail to their current location
  • Mail is securely monitored via tracking system and safely stored in the post office for collection
  • Offers privacy of mail as the owner will be allowed to collect unless he or she has directed someone to collect on their behalf
  • The online portal gives a history of all customer mail acting as a mail management system making it possible to monitor the customers mail volumes
  • Anyone above the age of 18 can open a virtual post box
  • Annual Fee; BWP 200.00 Mass Market & BWP 2000.00 Business
  • Penalty Fee – BWP 5.00 per day for 30 Days (Cumulative) only
  • Storage Fee – BWP 5 .00 per day for 30 Days (Cumulative) only
  • Re – direction Fee – BWP 30 .00
  • Home / Office delivery – Per EMS tariff

For details customers can reach us on our customer line at +267 39 11 743, WhatsApp #    77537517 or send an email to enquiries@botswanapost.co.bw   to find out more about Botswana Post’s virtual post box.

End//

Media enquiries to be routed to

Communications Unit

Mobile: 71498632

Corporatecomms@botswanapost.co.bw

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