Arivia.kom subsidiary Ariel Technologies Botswana has completed the third phase of the Botswana Ministry of Agriculture network infrastructure rollout project.

This R4 million project consisted of the supply of network cabling at 10 of the 30 sites in eastern and northern Botswana, including several servers and network printers; campus and departmental fibre connectivity; Windows XP Professional installation on 267 desktops, along with Office 2003, Internet Explorer and 650VA UPSs; and network printers. Some remote sites are connected via a 64k upgradeable link and other remote sites connect to these distribution sites with a minimum 64k link.

Prior to the Ariel Technologies Botswana rollout, the Ministry of Agriculture used a combination of telephones, post and travel to communicate with outstations or exchange data.

In March 2003 the Botswana Ministry of Agriculture and Ariel Technologies Botswana signed off the first part of the Phase 2 Western Project valued at R5,9 million. It included the provision, design, supply, and implementation of infrastructure to 250 users in Gaborone and remote sites in the southern and western parts of Botswana. This was completed by mid-January 2003, six weeks ahead of schedule and within the estimated cost. The infrastructure capability included cabling and networking services, remote services, e-mail facilities and the configuration of hardware and software.

The second project phase (Phase 2 Northern Part 1) valued at R4,6 million, began in May 2004 and rolled infrastructure out to three main sites in northern Botswana, starting in the central district at Serowe and Francistown and reaching as far as Maun on the borders of the Okavango Delta 1 200km from Gaborone.

The third project phase (Phase 2 Northern Part 2) valued at R4 million was awarded to Ariel Technologies at the end of January 2005 and covered ten sites situated in the central and northern parts of Botswana. This phase of the project was signed off in July 2005.

The remoteness of sites as well the limited timescales allowed for this phase proved a challenge to the implementation crews, but Steve Oliver, Ariel Technologies Botswana CEO, says the company met all stated objectives and this was achieved by 100% commitment to the project by both parties. Due to revised budgets during this period by the Botswana government a number of sites could not be included in this phase and, in line with the tender policy, will have to be re-tendered in the future.

Maintenance for this project will be provided by three third party maintenance companies, which are contracted to government to provide these services across the country. The Botswana government has also entered into an enterprise software agreement with Microsoft for the provision of Office 2003 applications, Windows licences and Exchange licences.

Ndi Towo, head of arivia.kom's Africa Division, says: "The strengthening and repositioning of the Botswana office is an important step in terms of our commitment to Botswana and the continent."