BOCRA Hosts Benchmarking Delegation from South Sudan

NEWS RELEASE

BOCRA Hosts Benchmarking Delegation from South Sudan

BOCRA is hosting a delegation from South Sudan on a benchmarking visit from 3-7 December 2019. The purpose of the visit is to learn from Botswana’s experience, challenges and successes with establishing a Universal Access and Service Fund (UASF). South Sudan is in the process of establishing its own Universal Service Fund. Welcoming the South Sudan delegation, Mr Martin Mokgware, BOCRA Chief Executive noted that it was a great honour and privilege for Botswana that its UASF continues to be found to be worthy. He said that the Fund was ready and willing to share its experience and also learn from fellow UASF in Africa and across the world. Mr Mokgware pointed out that in Botswana the Universal Access and Service Fund (UASF) was created as a special purpose vehicle to address gaps within the communication market. The UASF’s mandate is to ensure that all Batswana in the underserved and unserved areas have access to basic yet essential services within the regulated sectors of
telecommunications, postal, broadcasting and internet. The UASF has earned international recognition at the Commonwealth Telecommunication Organization (CTO) for the best initiative of Schools  Connectivity which covers 68 primary schools in Ghanzi district, Kgalagadi district and some parts of Mabutsane district. Each primary school in the identified districts was given 50 learner tablets, a multipurpose printer with fax and a scanner, 5MBps internet connectivity and related peripherals. IT officers were hired, on a fixed term of 3 years, so that they can impart IT skills to teachers and students as well as manage the ICT equipment. In addition, all Junior secondary schools in the areas were given laptops to augment what the government had already provided. Nine Community Junior Secondary schools benefitted from the exercise.

BOCRA pointed out that the UASF is guided by a Strategic Plan, with the current plan running from 2019 to 2024 and that the Fund derives its revenue from levies collected from communications sector licensees as well as surplus income from BOCRA’s operational budget. The Fund is run by a Board of Trustees, with BOCRA serving as the UASF Secretariat. The Board of Trustees is appointed by the Minister responsible for communications, on recommendation from the BOCRA Board, and members are selected to represent different segments of the “Communications’’ market.

During their stay in Botswana, the delegation met with Botswana Fibre Networks (BoFiNet) to appreciate the significant role played by the backbone infrastructure provider. The delegation also met with the department of Telecommunications and Postal Services who took them through the initial milestones towards reaching out to the underserved and unserved communities of Botswana before existence of the UASF. Further to that the delegates visited Betesankwe Primary School, one of the beneficiaries of UASF project on School Connectivity and Computerisation. They had also requested to see a model of a Community Access Centre, locally known as a Kitsong centre, and had an opportunity to visit one in Sese village. At the end of their visit, the team will tour BOCRA’s monitoring centre in Phakalane where they will appreciate the systems in place for Quality of Service monitoring, among others.

The UASF model adopted by Botswana has been hailed as one of the most efficient models particularly for emerging economies of Africa. In November 2019 BOCRA hosted their counterparts Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority (MACRA) on a similar exercise and has in the recent past also hosted several other bodies in region.

For more information, please contact:

Mr Aaron Nyelesi
Director, Corporate Communications and Consumer Affairs
nyelesi@bocra.org.bw

Tuesday, December 3, 2019