- OP to connect WiFi in 500 villages
- SmartBots seen as one of Masisi’s campaign tools
The Office of the President (OP) has been allocated more than P147 million for implementation of the SmartBots project under which more than 500 villages across Botswana will have internet connectivity, The Botswana Gazette has established.
The project which aims believed to aimed at becoming one of President Mokgweetsi Masisi’s trump cards ahead of the 2024 general elections. Whilst the project will be implemented in phases, President Masisi is said to have emphasised the need and urgency for it ahead of the next national elections in 2024.
This publication has been given to understand that SmartBots is one of the most highly funded projects under the Ministry for Presidential Affairs Governance and Public Administration in the 2022/2023 financial year.
Minister Kabo Morwaeng told Parliament last week that P147 021 446 was needed for SmartBots. “The fact that the project is being done and coordinated straight from the Presidency and not at the Ministry of Transport and Communications shows its importance to the President himself,” said an OP source.
“It is being run by the OP and BoFinet. Masisi has even assigned his minister, Kabo Morwaeng, to lead the implementation of the tender.”
The Botswana Gazette understands that the tendering process for the SmartBots project is already underway. The first phase of the project will see Internet connectivity in 61 villages which have minimal access to no back-haul infrastructure and electricity to high-speed broadband.
According to the standards of the projects, villages with a population of less than 5,000 inhabitants shall be connected through the user-activated soft fork (UASF) by providing a subsidy to mobile operators while villages with a population of 5,000 or more inhabitants will be upgraded to 4G and above through Botswana Communications Regulatory Authority (BOCRA) regulatory interventions.
Late last year Vice President Slumber Tsogwane explained that the “connect-all facilities” approach will be phased and eventually cover 504 villages. He noted that the village connectivity programme was part of the public transformation to a knowledge-based economy that aims to ensure that Batswana have digital access to services online at designated connection locations.