MASERU – The Minister of Communications, Science and Technology, Chief Thesele Maseribane says to fast track universal connectivity, governments need to digitalize their business processes and make organizational transformations.
Speaking during the Ministerial Roundtable during the ITU Telecom World 2018 forum in Durban on Tuesday, Chief Maseribane said when services are digitally transformed, there will be economic growth and citizens shall have easier means of accessing information and interacting with governments.
He said digital government services are convenient and efficient as the needs of the citizens can be easily met. He noted that digital transformation is also important for businesses and acknowledged that the business sector however has to take their cue from the government.
According to Chief Maseribane, a number of considerations need to be made before embarking on this journey as for starters, governments need to digitalize methods, processes and tools that they use to engage their citizens as well as their own decision making.
“Once government has digitalized its services, it can now move on to building systems that increase convenience for citizens and bring uniformity across all its digital offerings. This could be achieved by introducing and adopting single sign-ons across all government digital channels and platforms,” he argued.
He indicated that Broadband must be viewed both as a strategic national asset and increasingly as a civic right saying this policy intervention will go a long way in bridging the eminent digital divide.
Chief Maseribane also noted that for universal smart connectivity, sacrifices need to be made and governments need to engage heavily in making key policy interventions on budget allocations and introduce initiatives such as the Universal Service Fund (USF). Equally important he said, is for legal frameworks to be put in place to level the playing field in the promotion of digitalisation.
Talking more on the USF, he said it could be used to fund national scale projects whilst also promoting digital literacy in schools. The fund, according to Chief Maseribane can also be used for Universal Service Obligation (USO) for telecommunication licenses where the ideal situation would be that service providers will have an obligation to equitable accessibility of telecommunication services.
He noted that it is also the responsibility of countries to develop concrete and robust innovation strategies and capabilities in order to navigate a fast changing technology environment as well as contribute to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG)’s and in particular the ninth goal which puts emphasis on building a resilient infrastructure and promotion of inclusive and sustainable industrialisation whilst also fostering innovation.
Chief Maseribane said that innovative digital ecosystems must be open to all stakeholders from public administration, private industry academia, for the ongoing adoption of new or frontier technologies and the development of new business models within different industry sectors.
He mentioned that to address the infrastructure challenge in Lesotho, the Government of Lesotho has embarked on the e-Government initiative with the aim of rolling out infrastructure in the underserved areas adding that the main aim of the initiative is to provide proper infrastructure which will enhance usage of e-services.
“The aim is to roll out fibre throughout the country, construct their three data centres, construct service centres at the under-served areas as well as establishment of internet parks. The initiative will greatly improve service delivery as all Government services will be accessed online, thus reducing costs for the citizens,” he stressed.
However, he noted that there are challenges associated with smarter digital government making mention of privacy and cyber security issues where he took note that all that glitters is not necessarily gold as digitalisation without proper legislation can compromise one’s privacy.
It is at this occasion that the Minister also alluded that Lesotho is the first country in Africa to launch a fully commercial, standards-based 5G service.
The minister’s delegation comprises of the Principal Secretary ‘Mabotle Damane, the Director General ICT Lira Moeti, the Chief Economist Matseliso Phafoli, among others.