Regulatory framework not business friendly– BOCCIM

The Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Communications, Works, Transport and Technology last week concluded the public hearings on Information and Telecommunication Technologies (ICTs) and revealed that the Botswana Confederation of Commerce Industry and Manpower (BOCCIM) has complained that the licensing and regulatory framework is not friendly to doing business.
When briefing the media, the Chairman of the committee, Odirile Motlhale said BOCCIM indicated that dialogue is usually held with the private sector at the time of envisaged new regulation and licensing but when implementation takes place, that engagement stops and tends to impede doing business. “You find that at the conceptual stage there is engagement, but now when you come to the final details they are not involved, which obviously leaves a gap,” he said.
Motlhale said BOCCIM recommended that the private sector be involved at the time of implementation of licensing frameworks. They said these frameworks should be jointly reviewed with the private sector to take into account the situation on the ground as business is dynamic.
Regarding young empowerment, he said; “BOCCIM has come up with a position paper on youth empowerment. Specifically for ICT, the envisaged implementation of e-government presents a huge opportunity to address youth empowerment and youth unemployment. This is only possible if recommendations made by the sector to the CEE (Citizen Economic Empowerment) policy and submitted through the sub-HLCC (High Level Consultative Committee) are implemented. For example; making it a requirement that every national and international company engaged in the implementation of e-government solutions has a percentage of youth and citizen companies as part of the implementation team.”
Motlhale said after conducting research, BOCCIM made recommendations on the implementation of the Maitlamo Policy to address issues of youth unemployment. He said they said the ICT sector is ready to drive ICT and have it contribute to the country’s Gross Domestic Product. “ICT solutions are available locally and through global partnerships. The sector awaits to partner with government to implement the Maitlamo Policy and e-government as these will impact on key aspects of the economy,” BOCCIM reportedly said.
The Committee said progress made in the implementation of Maitlamo Policy is characterised by challenges amongst them, prohibitive pricing for ICTs as reported by the business community and consumers, limited research capacity, limited world class facilities and programmes in most government offices to achieve the vision of making Botswana an ICT hub, and that ICT is not being institutionalised to harness foreign direct investment in Botswana.
On the issue of internet pricing, Motlhale’s team said BOCCIM’s findings show that the ICT sector appreciates the role government has played in ensuring a reduction of wholesale internet costs to the end user through Botswana Fibre Networks. They said the sector however, holds the view that retail prices should be left to demand and supply to regulate. The sector has therefore, pushed for publication of prices offered by respective internet providers for consumers to choose a provider based on price.