Digitalisation is not on track in Botswana


Some months ago, the Botswana Gazette ran a feature called ‘Of Goats and Satellites’ where the contrasting development of our nation was laid bare. At the UNGA 78 this week our leader explained to the Assembly that Botswana appreciates the importance of the digital age in the future development of this country and, as leader, he was satisfied with the progress that had been made. With the deepest of respect there is no basis for being satisfied with progress.
eGov development
The United Nations – the august body being addressed, publishes an index called EGOVKB that scores and ranks each country’s eGov development. For Botswana it’s eGov ranking fell from 2004 when it was ranked 91st to 118th in 2022 and although there was improvement, other countries were improving faster so our ranking in the world actually fell. The other vital index is the e – Participation Index ranked Botswana at 168th – and one of the worst performing countries in the world. All this is all the more disturbing given that Botswana has one of the highest per capita GDPs in Africa. The appalling status of national digitalization should alarm every decision maker in Government. Botswana is not simply underperforming, but it is losing the race. The future of Botswana lays not with its goats or it’s cattle, but it’s ability to truly modernize and become proactive not reactive to the challenges of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Failing this, Batswana are dead men walking.
Must do actions
The Reset Agenda must include a vastly better resources and oversight for digitalization to improve Botswana’s ranking in the UN e-Participation Index and enhance digital participation, the government and relevant stakeholders should focus on the following five must-do actions:
1. Digital Infrastructure Development:
Invest in robust digital infrastructure and reliable internet connectivity across urban and rural areas. Enhancing access to high-speed internet will enable citizens to participate more effectively in online platforms and access government services.
2. Promote Digital Literacy and Awareness:
Implement comprehensive digital literacy programs to educate citizens about the benefits of e-participation and how to engage with online platforms. These programs should target various demographics, including youth, elderly, and marginalized communities, to bridge the digital divide.
3. Accessible Government Websites and Platforms:
Ensure that government websites and e-participation platforms are user-friendly, accessible, and available in multiple languages. Information should be organized logically, and citizen engagement portals should be intuitive, encouraging participation and feedback.
4. Enhance Civic Engagement and Participation:
Actively engage citizens in decision-making processes through online consultations, surveys, and feedback mechanisms. Encourage public participation by seeking opinions on policy matters, local issues, and development projects. Feedback received should be acknowledged and acted upon, promoting trust and engagement.
5. Transparency and Open Data:
Embrace transparency by making government data and information accessible and open to the public. Publish data in standard formats that allow for easy analysis and interpretation. Open data initiatives can stimulate civic innovation and encourage citizens to engage with and utilize government information.
In case there was any doubt over the economic viability of digitalisation, the Gazette is pleased to brief readers and decision makers.
1. Economic Impact:
According to a study by Accenture, for every $1 invested in digital technologies, the potential economic impact ranges from $3 to $5 over a five-year period. This impact is felt through increased revenues, cost savings, and new market opportunities.
2. Job Creation:
Research by the International Data Corporation (IDC) suggests that for every tech job created, three additional jobs are generated in the local economy. These jobs often span various sectors, including healthcare, manufacturing, and retail.
3. GDP Growth:
A report by Deloitte estimates that a 10 percent increase in broadband penetration can lead to an approximate 1.3 percent increase in GDP growth for high-income countries and a 1.2 percent increase for low and middle-income countries.
4. Productivity Gains:
McKinsey & Company research indicates that digital technologies can potentially add $1.36 trillion to the global economy annually through productivity gains.
5. Innovation Impact:
A World Economic Forum report suggests that digital technologies can unlock up to $100 trillion in value for businesses and society over the next decade, primarily through fostering innovation.
6. Social Impact:
A study by Cisco estimates that the Internet of Things (IoT) alone has the potential to generate $19 trillion of economic value globally over the next decade, creating societal benefits through improved healthcare, education, and sustainability.
7. Global Competitiveness:
The World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report highlights that countries investing in digital infrastructure and digital skills tend to have higher levels of competitiveness and innovation capacity.
These quantified impacts demonstrate that investments in digitization can lead to a significant multiplier effect, translating into economic growth, job creation, innovation, and enhanced global competitiveness. However, it’s important to note that the precise multiplier can vary based on specific circumstances and regional characteristics. Policymakers and stakeholders should carefully analyse and tailor investments to maximize the potential benefits in their particular contexts. By implementing these actions, Botswana can bolster its e-participation efforts, engage its citizenry, and significantly improve its ranking in the UN e-Participation Index. These steps are essential for a digitally inclusive society, promoting transparency, accountability, and active citizen engagement in the decision-making process. It is also strongly recommended that those MDAs responsible for digitalisation firmly lock into those internationally recognised indicators, ensure that progress is effectively monitored and support decision makers with accurate performance information. That way inaccurate statements to the international community and also our citizens can be avoided and concerted action taken. The EGDI is shown in the diagram and also a link to the UN Indices referred to in this item is given.