Botswana rolls out free WI-FI to the public

Mpho Tebele

Gaborone – Following the successful launch of commercial WI-FI in various villages in the country, Botswana on September 2, 2015 rolled out other free of charge Wi-Fi hotspots to members of the public in areas such as hospitals and bus ranks.

The initiative is part of the Government’s commitment to develop a National Information and Communications Technology (ICT) to make ICT the pillar of the National Vision 2016 and make Botswana a well-educated and informed nation.

The aim of the project is also to build and manage a public Wi-Fi infrastructure that would create a platform for service providers to provide connectivity within a large spectrum of locations without exuberant overlays.

Speaking at the launch at Gaborone bus rank, Minister of Transport and Communications, Tshenolo Mabeo called on members of the public to embrace ICT explaining that it improves information sharing and positioned Botswana as a globally competitive nation.

The minister paid tribute to the parastatal Botswana Fibre Network (BOFINet) for establishing the hot spots in the country.

He said government saw it fit to take cheap internet connectivity to the public and called on BOFINet to expand the infrastructure to other places in the country.

The minister noted that members of the public stand to benefit from the new public Wi-Fi hotspots tagged ‘Botswana Hotspots’.

The hotspots have been established at strategic locations in Gaborone including government enclave, Princess Marina Hospital, the bus rank, airport and shopping malls.

The project commenced in April and covers the capital Gaborone, Francistown, and other major settlements such as Mahalapye, Palapye, Maun and Kasane.

Mabeo said the project would be rolled out to other major towns and villages for the next three years.

“Botswana is making strides in mainstreaming access and use of the Internet in the country. The public hotspots are a game changer in the ICT industry because they ushered the country into reliable broadband network,” said Mabeo.

He said the country had been struggling before with Internet speed and he assured members of the public that with the hotspots, they would be able to download 300 megabites (MB) per second and six thebe per MB.

Wi-Fi hotspots were switched on at places with high density in Gaborone and Mabeo said they would bring business opportunities for the techno savvy youth to tap into the ICT industry and fight unemployment.

Speaking at the same launch, BOFINet Board Chairperson, Ratsela Mooketsi revealed that their intention is to cover most of the country in the next three years to facilitate every member of the public to have Internet access wherever they were as this would make their lives easier.

“Botswana Hotspots is expected to stimulate Internet usage and expanding broadband network in the country. This initiative also provides a platform for innovation at low prices for consumers,” he said.

BOFINet’s mandate is to provide and operate a world class telecommunications backbone network infrastructure which will drive connectivity and economic growth.

It also services retail organizations in the telecommunications industry such as licensed public telecommunications operators, licensed value added network service providers and international communication operators.

October 2015
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