BIH partners Microsoft for Botswana TV white spaces project

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Botswana Innovation Hub (BIH) has announced a collaboration with Microsoft 4Afrika and other partners to launch a telemedicine service over a TV white spaces network.

Project Kgolagano aims to provide hospitals and clinics with internet connectivity, facilitating a remote diagnosis network and supporting local healthcare service delivery.

Microsoft’s 4Afrika initiative has launched similar TV white spaces pilots in the likes of Kenya, South Africa, Namibia, Tanzania and Ghana, with the Botswana project also assisted by the Botswana-UPenn Partnership (BUP), Global Broadband Solutions, Vista Life Sciences, BoFiNet, Adaptrum and USAID-NetHope.

TV white spaces technology enables the delivery of broadband using dynamic spectrum access. Unused spectrum on the frequency range – commonly used to deliver television channels – is utilised and known as TV white space (TVWS).

“There is currently a lack of specialised care in remote hospitals and clinics in Botswana,” said Dr Geoffrey Seleka, director of the BIH Marketing, ICT and Registration.

“Through Project Kgolagano, we will be using TVWS technology to provide access to specialised telemedicine applications, where hospitals can send high-resolution patient photographs back to Gaborone and Philadelphia for a more accurate diagnosis and care.”

Project Kgolagano, which means ‘to be connected or networked’, will focus on providing access to specialised maternal medicine, which will improve the livelihoods of women located in small towns and rural areas. Telemedicine experts and doctors providing medical expertise for referred patients are being provided by BUP.

The project will be unveiled on Thursday, March 12, at Tsopeng clinic in Lobatse, and will initially run in three locations – Lobatse, Francistown and Maun. Additional hospitals will be added in the coming months.

“Microsoft is honoured to be working with the Government of Botswana to enable access to specialised maternal medicine in underserved communities by leveraging TV white spaces technology, telemedicine applications, smart devices, and cloud-based services,” said Paul Garnett, director of Microsoft’s Technology Policy Group.

“TV white spaces is a cutting edge technology that has the potential to enable network operators to provide cheaper broadband internet connectivity to billions of people around the world. The technology is ideal as it can significantly improve the economics of deploying wireless broadband in underserved communities and can operate off-grid by leveraging solar power.”

Disrupt Africa reported last month BIH is in the process of implementing an Innovation Fund to provide seed funding to startups in the country, and has raised BWP12 million (US$1.25 million) so far.

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