The Signing of Exchange of Notes between the Government of Japan and the Government of the Republic of Botswana for Economic and Social Development Programme

On April 20, the signing of exchange of notes between the Government of Japan and the Government of the Republic of Botswana took place in Gaborone, for Economic and Social Development Programme, a grant aid amounting to 150 million yen (approx. 17million Pula ) for distribution of set top boxes (STBs; i.e. receivers) to be aligned with deployment of digital terrestrial television (DTV) and analogue switch off in Botswana.
Grant Agreement was signed by Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Japan to Botswana, H.E. Mr. TAKEDA Kozo and Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Hon. Dr. Thapelo Matsheka.
In February 2013, Botswana announced the adoption of the Japanese standard for its DTV and first broadcasted by Botswana Television (BTV). It is notable that Botswana is the first country on the African continent that adopted the Japanese standard for its DTV. Since then, the Botswana Government has been making efforts to shift from analogue broadcasting to DTV and Japan has been assisting Botswana’s digital TV transition. After analogue switch-off, there will be vacancy of frequency band so that people will be able to use hi-speed internet using mobile phone in the future.
In 2015, with support from several Japanese companies, DTV was broadcasted in the whole country. The Botswana Government has also been working on utilization of data broadcasting, which is a service associated with DTV. Through data broadcasting services, people can watch real-time traffic news, weather forecast, information on searches for gone cattle and most importantly, obtain government issued information such as public safety, natural hazards and healthcare advice while watching TV. Another remarkable feature of the Japanese standard DTV is the emergency warning broadcasting system (EWBS) function. With EWBS, an emergency alert sound and announcement automatically come out of STB from its built-in speaker even when a TV itself is switched off. To watch DTV, people need a STB, a small box-shaped receiver to be directly hooked to each TV.
While the Botswana Government moves on with analogue switch-off, there is a concern that vulnerable people may not be able to purchase STBs due to economic reasons. As a result, it will be difficult for them to access aforementioned information through data broadcasting services that closely affects their daily lives.
Through this grant aid, Japan cooperates with Department of Broadcasting Services, Ministry for Presidential Affairs Governance and Public Administration, to distribute STBs to the households who are truly in need of assistance, to ensure their access to the information through DTV that would complement their well-being.
People should be aware that there are two types of STBs: one that is equipped with receiving data broadcasting function and the other without. In order to enjoy and benefit from data broadcasting services, people should get the former type, which is the type this grant aid will provide.
It is expected that this cooperation will contribute to mitigate information disparity caused by income inequality, and hence lead to improvement of quality of life as well as reduction of disaster damages in Botswana.