New collaboration for e-national strategy

New collaboration for e-national strategy

MASERU – THE International Telecommunication Union (ITU) will work with Econet Telecom Lesotho, Vodacom and others in the private sector to deliver the e-national strategy.
Communications Minister Thesele ’Maseribane told a press conference on Tuesday that they agreed to collaborate with the ITU so as to achieve the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, especially article 17 that focuses on communications.

’Maseribane said Lesotho’s Vision 2020 was discussed at length, with participants agreeing that ICT can play a big role in employment creation, especially for innovative youths.
He said the National University of Lesotho (NUL) has informed stakeholders that it has 400 projects on board and that is ‘‘a challenge to us as the government and that is where ITU partnership comes in’’.

Stakeholders also identified the legal framework as a major challenge, he said.
They addressed, ‘‘cyber law, data protection and all the related laws because we have e-commerce, e-governance and we will be engaging in e-learning’’.
Stakeholders also noted that e-learning was almost non-existent at primary school level.
‘‘It is at this area that we would like to focus more on (e-learning) so as to increase our ICT knowledge and our education level countrywide,’’ ’Maseribane said.
He said ‘‘most of the time, children get to learn about usage of computers at secondary and we are going to address that”.
“We requested the private sector to help us,’’ he said.

The government will be launching an e-service, although connectivity in areas that lack electricity remains a major challenge.
‘‘E-services will be partnered with the postal services, where there is energy already, to give a very good e-service to our people,’’ he said.
‘‘The unity will be very beneficial looking at our financial muscle challenge. We are still trying to improve our economy and we are aware of other projects such as Smart-Africa that we can tap ourselves into,’’ he added.

The Secretary General of ITU, Houlin Zhao, had interactions with different cabinet members, including Prime Minister Thomas Thabane, where issues of the economy were discussed.
These included the role of technology, infrastructure development and private sector participation in assisting the country towards attaining the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals Article 17.

Speaking at the same press conference, Zhao said he was encouraged by discussions he held with the ministers, adding that he looked forward to cooperation as the country seeks to increase access to e-services, e-agriculture, e-health and e-education. He also said Prime Minister Thabane pledged to use ICT to change Lesotho.

‘‘ICT is very important to upgrade Lesotho’s social economic development as it helps people to be recognised and it is a very powerful tool to help us achieve each and every SDGs,’’ said Zhao.
He said he was pleased by Lesotho’s achievement, especially after the public announcement of 5G services in August, while in Geneva they have never had that yet.
‘‘That is quite good,’’ he added.

Zhao said ‘‘the quality of communication is not bad as far as I can see.’’
However, he was perplexed visiting Lesobeng Secondary School and finding out that ‘‘none of the students have ever had a chance to have access to ipad or computers.’’
He stated that a special agency of ITU had launched a project called ‘Child Online Protection’ in 2007 which became popular worldwide. This has resulted in some children as young as three years old starting to use computers in some parts of the world.

Yet in Lesotho, children at primary level are still clueless about the usage of computers. Speaking with private sector representatives, Zhao said he was captivated by the development of local applications and contents to support people’s connectivity to the world via mobile internet. He said he was fascinated by the NUL because ‘‘it has a very strong ICT capacities and very strong teaching capacities”. “I also noted that it has a lot of support to the country from many areas,’’ he said.

‘‘I am very pleased that one of Lesotho’s universities will join ITU family and of course to show our limited support, I also bring 300 computers to support the education system,’’ Zhao said.
‘‘With dynamic cooperation from all stakeholders, we do have a reason to believe that in future, Lesotho will fly higher and I will do my best to try and promote it as well,’’ he said.
ITU is an international union created on June 17, 1965. To date it has 190 member states, more than 800 leadership members and they also have around 150 academies.

’Mapule Motsopa

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