This week’s ICT Pitso could not have come at a more appropriate time. Not only is the country under pressure to join the information highway but crimes associated with this new technology wave are reaching new and dangerous levels. We cannot afford to be caught wanting. The competitiveness of the economy relies on how connected companies are; how connected consumers are and how Government – a major dispenser of goods and services – succeeds in setting up the necessary infrastructure. Technology by its nature brings about convenience; it cuts distance and reduces time in rendering or acquiring a service. At every new design, speed and convenience, it appears, it’s enhanced. Take cell phones for example. When they were first introduced they created convenience of communicating anytime and from any place in as far as a signal was available. Then there was a new creation – smart phones came with internet and now from anywhere one can transact any business if it is available online. New offerings are coming so fast that some are unable to cope. Yet all these are for convenience, cutting the high costs of the past and ensuring fast and easy delivery of service. However, as business shifts from the traditional manual mode to online a country like Botswana should be conscious not to leave sections of society behind. Government should be aware that though the number of cellphones in use is almost equal to the country’s total population, only a small portion of subscribers use internet service in the phones. For this reason, Government’s promotion of e-govt or e-business should not leave the majority of the population out who still prefer the traditional method of communication. Government communications particularly on critical sectors of health, power and water should remain as widely distributed as possible. The majority of our people are yet to register and open a Facebook account and hence they should be considered. Communication minister Tshenolo Mabeo’s call for digital education comes in handy in this regard. As the economy transits digital public education should be driven aggressively. The sooner this is achieved the better for the economy. The other serious concern is the high cost of internet connectivity. More effort needs to be placed at setting up infrastructure that will ensure easy access and cost effective use of the internet. Public mall owners should take it upon themselves to avail more WIFI hotspots as added benefit for their customers. There is no denying that with this service, businesses are most likely to draw more customers who enjoy the added convenience.
The call for a Cybercrime strategy should be taken seriously as a priority for this economy. Consumers require some form of protection. Otherwise the hackers are having a field day – naïve and vulnerable users are giving them blank cheques. A strategy to fight this scourge is needed because what otherwise should be classified information that protects the nation is as good as public. Government should as a result move with speed to create a working Cybercrime law for this country.