Botswana Police Services (BPS) has engaged leading global information and communications technology (ICT) solutions provider, Huawei for the Safer City Project, which it is envisaged will help it achieve its mandate of ensuring the city, and eventually the country at large, is a safer place to reside or do business in.

The BPS has in the recent past weeks undertaken drug busts and sweeps around the city, in a drug purge that is expected to bring down crime statistics in the city which has in recent years been experiencing violent crime and high crimes statistics. Drugs are seen as the underlying factor to rising crime statistics. The Safer City Project was first alluded to by President Khama in his 2016 State of the Nation address saying the programme would police the city by means of closed circuit television.

Earlier this week on Tuesday, BPS revealed more information on the project, saying international standards surveillance network will be installed around the capital city. This will include high definition cameras, traffic signals placed along busy roads, and at busy intersections of the highway,  intelligence lenses around strategic corporate enclaves of high economic value as well sophisticated software packages  and monitoring computers with secured database and other world-class security surveillance gadgets used globally around international premier cities.

The Commissioner of Police Mr Keabetswe Makgophe and the Managing Director of Huawei Botswana Mr Ren Fujun this past Tuesday at the Police Head Quarters commissioned the project by signing a two year contract which will ensure the effective implementation and delivery of the expected safe city.

Gaborone has been of recent hit by a series of armed robberies and organized crimes and the safer city project is expected to address amongst others issues of that sort. Speaking after the contract signing ceremony Commissioner Makgope said the project was necessary for the police’s delivery of effective policing to Batswana through the use of advanced and world-class means like surveillance cameras.

The police boss added that through the project Batswana will realize crime free streets and improved security in general. Commissioner Makgope noted that as Botswana develops and advances economically and becomes part of the global world it also becomes vulnerable to high profile criminals and organized criminal undertakings therefore the Police as the custodians of every day security and safety must also up their standards of policing in order to keep the city safer.

Botswana Government took a deliberate decision to turn Gaborone into world-class premier city of investment and international trade and package it as a Diamond City following the relocation of De Beers Global sight holders centre to the Botswana. Makgophe also revealed that the safer city project will after implementation in Gaborone later proceed to Francistown in the 2018/19 financial year. Both Gaborone and Francistown, being the country’s premier cities house two special economic zones being the diamond &investment enclave around the Sir Seretse Khama Airport area and also the Northern Transport & Logistic hub respectively.

“These are multi Million pula projects and they intended to keep Gaborone and Francistown cities much safer and secure by virtue of being the major centres of development and economic drivers for the country,” said Makgope. “We intend to roll out the project to other parts of the country in future if it proves to be sustainable and effective as well as if funds permit,” he added. The managing Director of Huawei Botswana, Mr Ren Fujun underscored that his company was more than delighted to be part of a national project that intends to keep Botswana safer and contribute to economic growth by ensuring security of investment & trade undertakings.

He said Huawei Botswana would deliver a world-class network, “We will honour the agreement and make sure the project is completed on time,” he said. International Police Science Association (IPSA) and the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP) announced in their World Internal Security and Police Index (WISPI) that Botswana Police is Africa’s best and the world‘s  47th. The index ranked the Rwandan police as Africa’s second best (with global position of 50th) followed by Algeria (58th), Senegal (68th) and Tunisia (72nd) in that order. Completing the top 10 for Africa were, Egypt, Burkina Faso, Ghana, South Africa and Mali respectively.

Meanwhile, BPS still has problems of their own, which include lack of resources, low remuneration for police officers as well as poor conditions of services such as accommodation and unequipped workplaces. Botswana is also in the process of setting up a legislative frame work on cyber crime and internet related crimes as the world moves fast to a digitized global space.