Mascom wireless on Thursday handed over Kitsong centres to 10 young entrepreneurs to make a total 81 Kitsong centres in 81 villages across the country.
The Mascom Kitsong centres started as a partnership between Mascom and the government through an initiative known as Nteletsa Two Rural Development Project in 2009 when coverage was extended to 41 villages and Kitsong centres set up in those in villages.
The mobile network operator would add 30 more upon realizing the need and the effects of the project.
Speaking during the handover of the centres, Minister of Transport and Communications, Tshenolo Mabeo said since its inception, ICT has been at the centre of Mascom’s Corporate Social Responsibility portfolio with the main objective of the initiative being to transform the local economy and bridge the rural urban digital divide.
It is said that since the beginning of the project, Mascom has invested over P20 million in the Kitsong centres which Mabeo said clearly defines the company’s contribution towards the country’s vision 2016 and beyond.
The minister said the fact that the centres are handed over to young entrepreneurs makes the project interesting as they could use it to improve their lives and build their own multimillion Pula ventures.
Furthermore Mabeo recognised the support Mascom has been affording the government with the many donations of ICT equipment that have been donate to primary schools and Kgotla’s in rural communities.
He challenged other companies to partner with Mascom and channel some of their investments towards Kitsong centres as the partnerships are vital in fostering an enabling environment for the communities to realise the socio economic benefits of the ICT infrastructure and services.
The Mascom Kitsong centres comprises package comprises of a branded porta cabin equipped with computers, printers, copiers and data cards.
Mascom Chief Information Officer, Lilly Sullivan said once established, they continue to provide operational support through skills development, introduction of new services and maintenance of the provided infrastructure.
As part of the support, Sullivan said they have prioritized digital literacy for the Kitsong centre operators as they see this as a vital skill for the communities to ensure digital inclusion and contribution to the economy.
Sullivan said despite their efforts as Mascom to connect and provide ICT literacy to villages around Botswana, the Kitsong centre program is faced with challenges, mainly break-ins and theft of the ICT equipment in the centres.