An economist and Specially Elected Member of Parliament, Bogolo Kenewendo, says Botswana should embrace the fourth industrial revolution which simply is the cyber physical systems. Kenewendo was speaking as a panelist during at the FNBB Budget review, an event which is held annually a day after the presentation of the national budget. She said the revolution needs to be embraced because the Global Connectivity Index (GCI) ranking is based on innovation/investment against the GDP and adopters are reaping the most financial benefits from ICT spending. Botswana ICT use is relatively low, but while Kenewendo said at individual level people are ready for the revolution, it appears at a broader level it is still a challenge as evidenced by low connectivity. “It has been found that an increase of 1 point in a nation's GCI score correlates with a 2.3% increase in productivity, a 2.1% improvement in the Global Competiveness Index and a 2.2% increase in the Global Innovation Index,” she said.
Botswana is said to be ranked 108 in the GCI whereas Ghana and South Africa are ranked 47 and 31 respectively as of last year rankings. Though it is feared that the adaptation of the ICT might take away jobs previously done by human beings, Kenewendo said this will only serve to enhance systems; with the old and tested systems forced to reinvent to survive. For Botswana to catch up with the revolution, Kenewendo said there must be a timely implementation of what she referred to as timely reforms and responsive policy making. In addition, she said there should be easing of trade across borders including of movement of persons and have a national Internet of Things (IOT) strategic road map and budget put in place. Delivering the budget speech on Monday, Finance Minister Kenneth Matambo, said in order to deliver on the priority of developing diversified sources of growth, an efficient ICT infrastructure is needed as a pre-requisite for research and business mainstreaming within and outside Botswana.
In addition to the fibre backbone network that has been installed around the country in a bid to enhance the national broadband connectivity, Matambo said the Ministry of Transport and Communications will also subsidise telecommunications operators to connect primary schools with broadband internet at rural and underserviced areas. When reacting to the same budget, FNBB economist Moatlhodi Sebabole said the country’s main weakness lies in dependency on minerals, diamonds in particular. He said figures on the Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) are not inspiring as countries such as DRC which have hostile political environment said to be performing well in this area ahead of Botswana. Sebabole said the country needs to get out of the comfort zone and come up with regulations that would make sectors such as manufacturing flourish.