P35 million spent on the project
360 young entrepreneurs trained since 2010
Network coverage in Botswana reaching over 95% of the population
I note with pleasure that since 2009 when Mascom Wireless entered into a Private Public Partnership (PPP) with the then Ministry of Communications Science and Technology, to roll out communication services to 41 rural communities, under the Rural Telecommunications Development Programme, which resulted with a Kitsong Centre component, has made considerable strides. As a result, we are here today to witness yet another historical moment which will see eleven (11) entrepreneurs being awarded Kitsong Centres to operate, and together with others they will also receive certificates which are worth their efforts. The certificates follow an intensive training to improve on participants’ ICT & Entrepreneurship skills, and indeed, this is a commendable development.
Upon realising the need and potentially, the life changing effects of this project, Mascom continued with this initiative autonomously and has so far deployed more Kitsong centres. I am delighted to announce that today Mascom will in addition, hand over 11 Kitsong Centres to young entrepreneurs, thus making a total of 110 operational Kitsong Centres, in 110 Villages across Botswana.
It is worth noting that, from 2010 to date, a total of 360 young entrepreneurs have been trained by Mascom on the running of Kitsong Centres. Throughout these years, this undertaking has impacted positively on the lives of the beneficiaries as well as that of the communities that they served. It is evident that; ICT has always been at the core of Mascom’s Corporate Social Responsibility portfolio, also taking into consideration their widest network coverage in Botswana reaching over 95% of the population.
Among other investments, it has come to my knowledge that since 2009 over 35 Million Pula has been invested in this project. It is through programs such as this, which bring to life, the realization that Mascom is committed to giving back to Batswana.
You will agree with me that this is a noble initiative, with great potential to bridge the rural/urban digital divide, and ultimately transform the economy of this country. Please allow me ladies and gentleman to applaud Mascom for realizing the potential and impact this project has, in transforming the lives of the youth around Botswana, especially in the rural areas.
It is worth noting that Kitsong Centres are handed over to the youth to operate them as their own businesses. Therefore I wish to encourage young people who will be awarded Kitsong centres today, to take this opportunity as a stepping stone to improving their lives, building their communities and growing these businesses to be multimillion Pula ventures. As business owners, they should learn from the concept that, in business you start small and grow big. They should collaborate as entrepreneurs to share experiences, challenges as well as developing solutions to their problems, to avoid dependent on Mascom but show commitment and rise to the occasion.
Let me remind these recipients that with a Kitsong Centre in your village, one has access to the same ICT facilities that a young person in the big cities has, therefore it means you too have a conducive platform to play a critical role in this competitive world, for the benefit of growing the economy of your country.
You will agree with me that, it is common knowledge that the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) sector mainly exists to create an enabling environment for service continuum in other sectors of the economy, facilitating other sectors to thrive, and for that reason, the ICT sector creates employment and contributes to our country’s GDP.
I congratulate Mascom Wireless for the massive work that they have been doing since 2009. The strategic steps of training the youth and also the rolling out of Kitsong Centres as part of their Corporate Social Responsibility came at a time of utmost need, complementing the country’s economic diversification program, youth empowerment program and job creation program. I implore on other Captains of the Industry to embark on such initiatives meant to transform the lives of Batswana.
*Address by the Minister of Transport and Communications Kitso Mokaila, during the 2018 Mascom Kitsong Centres Awards on 25th MAY 2018