BOCRA accelerates connectivity through the Universal Services Access Fund (USAF)

BOCRA Board Chairperson Tsaone Ruth Thebe said the Schools Connectivity projects in the Ghanzi, Kgalagadi and Mabutsane areas continue to provide access to ICT services.

BOCRA accelerates connectivity through the Universal Services Access Fund (USAF)

Thebe revealed that the Universal Access Service Fund (UASF) facilitated the rollout of commercial radio broadcasting signal coverage by funding the installation of an FM transmitter at Sojwe village.

Further to that, Thebe stated that the new transmitter extends commercial radio broadcasting signal to greenfield listenership of the people of Sojwe and the nearby villages of Lephepe, Boatlaname, Shadishadi, Leologane, Kokonje and Otse.

“In line with the infrastructure sharing policy, commercial radio broadcasters shared the facility to broadcast to their respective target markets, reaching a total population of 8,443 and improving overall population coverage of commercial radio broadcasting from 77 percent to 77.8 percent,” explained the Chairperson.

The Fund played a major role in forging strategic partnerships to assist in the rollout of communications services to remote areas as well as in research and information exchange. To this end, Thebe stated that the Fund is in consultation with the leadership of the North West and Southern District Councils, seeking collaboration to extend the Schools Computerisation and Internet Connectivity initiative to these regions.

Refresher training was also provided to upskill the 68 Information Technology (IT) Officers employed under the Schools Connectivity projects in the Ghanzi, Kgalagadi and Mabutsane areas.

“The projects continue to provide access to ICT services as envisaged, although there were some challenges such as equipment malfunctions and Internet outages occasioned by unstable power supply at some schools. These challenges continue to receive attention from the relevant authorities,” she noted.

During the reporting period, Thebe revealed that the UASF carried out assessments of the existing public WiFi hotspots looking into Internet service availability, advertising/marketing of the hotspots, points of sale for WiFi vouchers, and public awareness of the WiFi hotspots. The exercise, in her view was meant to evaluate the performance of the service and to establish the contribution of the WiFi hospots to ICT uptake and usage.

However, she complained that low utilisation of the WiFi hotspots continues to be of major concern to the Fund.

Further, public movement restrictions following the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic also contributed to low usage recorded towards the end of the reporting period. To address this matter, Thebe said the Board has called for initiatives to improve marketing of the WiFi hotspots and increase the public and consumer education on the availability of WiFi hotspots and benefits of using this facility.

“On a positive note, the Trans- Kalahari Highway (TKH) network upgrade project had reached 78 percent completion by end of the financial year. The project aims to improve communications services along this major direct trade route from Mozambique via South Africa, through Botswana, and terminating at Namibia’s port of Walvis Bay,” she said.