ICT to form basis for resource mobilisation-Minister

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The new Minister of Finance and Economic Development has made his intentions clear in as far as Information Communication Technology (ICT) in the country. Speaking during a recent budget speech presentation to parliament Dr. Thapelo Matsheka said among other sectors, ITC is key. This development saw the ICT sector receiving an impressive tranche of funds from the government as compared to the previous years.

“As a demonstration of Government’s commitment to infrastructural development, and as promised in the ruling party’s manifesto, over half of the Development Budget for 2020/2021 is proposed for the following economic sectors: Water allocated P1.372 billion; Transport allocated P1.3 billion; Agriculture allocated P862 million; ICT allocated P823 million; Land Servicing allocated P541.5 million; and Energy allocated P521 million.”

The minister said ICT among others will play an important role in resource mobilisation without elaborating how. “My Ministry will revisit the process of delivering public infrastructure through the Public Private Partnership (PPP) model. Two specific interventions in this regard during the Financial Year 2020/2021 will be; the promulgation of the PPP procurement law, which is at an advanced stage, and the development of a strategy for financing mega projects such as roads, rail and ICT, which will form the basis for mobilising resources from development partners, including the private sector, to accelerate the pace of infrastructure development.”

He explained that Government has engaged the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) to develop the National E-Commerce Strategy, which will be in place by June 2020. “The overall objective of the Strategy is to promote the diffusion and use of e-commerce throughout Botswana’s commercial and public spheres.” The Strategy according to the minister,  will enhance efficiency and further serve as a framework and guiding tool in facilitating e-commerce across all sectors of the 

Matsheka pointed out that for agriculture to leapfrog from its current moribund state, a dose of technology was needed to jog it. “Agriculture is one of the sectors identified for economic transformation due to its potential for growth, trade, and job creation. However, for the sector to play this role, there is need to seriously address the challenges besetting the sector, such as poor infrastructure, low productivity, low technology uptake, droughts, to mention but a few.”

The country has seen a number of reforms which were completed during the 2019/20 Financial Year and technology was one of them. According to the speech, “This includes the Online Business Registration System (OBRS), which was launched in June 2019, with the key objective being to achieve faster, cheaper and more accurate business registration. As part of this reform, the Companies and Intellectual Property Authority (CIPA) has integrated with the Department of National and Civil Registration and efforts are ongoing to finalise the integration with the Botswana Unified Revenue Service (BURS), as well as the PPADB systems. The integration process is expected to be completed by the end of March 2020. Furthermore, the e-VISA portal will be developed during the 2020/2021 Financial Year to enable online application and issuance of VISA. All these measures, are to facilitate movement of persons and aide investment into this country, thereby promoting the creation of jobs for Batswana.”

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